When we want something really bad, we’ll do whatever it takes to get it. This includes training. But like the saying goes, too much of a good thing eventually turns into a bad thing.
In this article we’re going to be talking about how to identify symptoms of overtraining and what you can do to avoid it.
I was recently talking with a friend of mine. He’s a Muay Thai fighter and has been training for some time now (roughly five years).
Having trained Muay Thai myself (in Thailand), I know what it takes to be a good fighter and the work that you need to put in. Fighters in Thailand average over 200 fights throughout their career. I was curious so I asked him how many fights he’s had. He tells me that he had about 10 scheduled, but only ended up participating in one. What was up?
Apparently he kept getting sick right before each fight…from OVERTRAINING. One time he ended up with ammonia, another time he was diagnosed with ‘excessive exhaustion’ (that’s what the doctor said) and over the past couple of years he’s been hit with countless other over-exertion type injuries. He ignored all the signs and symptoms of overtraining because he was afraid of not training hard enough.
We train to get better prepared for an event. We push ourselves to reach goals and milestones. We give it all we have to succeed. And we often think: Is it enough?
Rarely do we think: Is it too much?
I have experienced the same situations where I wanted something so bad that I’d do (almost) anything to get it. I would train so hard that instead of taking a step forward I’d end up taking two steps back. But I learned from my mistakes. It comes with time and most often trial-and-error but you learn how to avoid things that can cause over-training. And more importantly you learn when enough is enough.
So what are some symptoms of overtraining? How do we avoid overtraining and if it happens how do we recover from it?
Symptoms of overtraining include any of the following:
- Low-grade discomfort at the site of injury
- Discomfort in activities of daily living (i.e. descending stairs)
- Stiffness at the site of injury
- Progression in intensity of pain with continued exercise
Here are some of the things that have worked for me in terms of avoiding overtraining.
Whenever you feel extremely sore from a workout, it’s probably because you over did it. Whenever you feel so exhausted after a workout that you can’t sleep from how tired you are (weird feeling), you’ve probably gone too far. Here are some tips to avoid these pitfalls:
GET REST. Make sure you get 24 to 48 hours of rest between working out the same muscle group. Your muscles need time to recover after a workout and lack of rest can cause overuse injuries. Recovery is important and is often overlooked. You always need to balance stress (on muscles) with rest.
Drink lots of WATER. Sometimes we work so hard that we tend to forget to hydrate before, during and after a workout. We need to replenish our system to accommodate from the water loss after a sweat-drenching workout. Being in a dehydrated state can be dangerous so be sure to drink plenty of water.
Take the necessary supplements (if need be). If you have a hard time recovering from a workout, take the appropriate post-workout supplements. There will soon be a more in-depth article regarding the use of supplements.
If you do happen to push yourself PAST the limit, I can offer you only one piece of advice: STOP. REST. RECOVER.
These are the most common symptoms of overtraining and some ways of avoiding it. Sometimes taking a week off can help your body in more ways than you think. Most times when I begin to feel my body starting to get beat up to the point where it affects my workouts, I always take a week off (completely off). Each and every time I come back, I feel stronger and I’m full of energy. Give it a try and I’m sure you will feel the same way.
As for my friend, I don’t think he’ll ever learn. He’s sick again.