What is Overtraining?
By Pierre Chartier, Professor, Fitness and Health Promotion and Recreation and Leisure Services
Excessive training refers to training in which volume, intensity, or both are increased too quickly, without proper progression. Such conditioning can lead to chronic states of fatigue associated with muscle glycogen depletion.
Overtraining occurs when the stresses of excessive training can exceed the body’s ability to recover and adapt, which results in more catabolism (breakdown) than anabolism (buildup) of muscle. Overtraining is characterized by a sudden decline in performance that cannot be remedied by a few days of rest and dietary manipulation.
The importance of adequate recovery between workouts cannot be emphasized enough in preventing the overtraining syndrome.
Overtraining symptoms may include
- elevated resting heart rates and blood pressure
- decreased appetite and loss of weight
- decreased performance
- increased muscle tenderness
- increased head colds and allergic reactions
- occasional nausea; and sleep disturbances.
When an individual is in an overtrained state, it can lead to less resistance to infections as demonstrated in the following illustration:
To prevent overtraining, remember the following fit tips:
- Progress slowly and start with training intensities/resistance that are suitable for your age and fitness level.
- Remember that your personal stress level is a combination of all of your lifestyle stresses. When dealing with more psychosocial stress in your life, lessen your exercise stress.
- When training intensely, remember to increase your carbohydrate intake to replenish your energy levels (glycogen).
- Use the principle of “periodization” when training, which briefly states that hard workouts should be interspersed with lighter workouts over your weekly, monthly, and quarterly training plan.
- Get at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Stay focused on your body’s response to your workouts. Multi-tasking may help you in some time efficiency situations, but it doesn’t work in the gym:
Pierre Chartier is a professor in both the Fitness and Health Promotion and Recreation and Leisure Services programs. He has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and an international presenter on Group Fitness leadership.