Recovery is so important to progressing within any training programme. I have spoken to many people over the years who seem to think that resting will stop any body changes – whether that be body fat reduction or increasing muscle size, that they have been working so hard to achieve. They then will go 5 to 10 days without resting and even then will only rest if it is forced upon them. These people will then wonder why they are feeling low on energy and it is literally a struggle to get up in the morning. Instead of this leading to positive changes in their appearance and mental wellbeing it is in fact detrimental and these individuals are actually over training.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF OVER TRAINING?
– Daily fatigue = The day after a heavy workout may result in delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) and is completely normal. DOMS usually gives an acute pain response in the muscles that have been worked the previous training session. However, if you are waking up each day feeling like death warmed up (physically and mentally) then you are probably doing too much. Exercise is supposed to release feelings of happiness and content and if you are dreading getting up out of bed each day because your body is constantly sore and tired then you are not allowing sufficient recovery. This daily fatigue leads to increased irritability, depression and sometimes even mental breakdown. If you are feeling like you are training all the time but getting no where fast except more tired and under the weather then you are probably exercising too much and now allowing enough good quality recovery.
– Muscle/Joint Soreness = As I have already said; DOMS is a natural response post exercise that should go away in a day or two. However, pain in joints when exercising could be down to poor form during weight lifting or repeating a movement too often (such as running) and can be linked to overuse or over training. With regards to endurance training, if you are always stiff no matter how much you stretch, if you grimace at every step you take and you would rather take the lift than go through the pain of walking up the stairs then it may be that you’ve run too far or too hard for too long. The danger here is that your daily endorphin high has over-ridden your natural pain receptors and you are pushing your body beyond what it is capable of. Over training is as much mental as it is physical and you should listen more to what your body is telling you.
– Regular Illness = Several factors can negatively affect your immune system. Dietary changes (especially an increase in sugar intake), a lack of Vitamin D and sunlight, poor sleeping habits and mental stress are all usual factors for stressing your immune system. However, if all of these are taken care of and you are still getting a nagging cough here or nasal congestion more often than not then your immune system may be suffering from the added stress of you over training. If you have recently increased your weekly exercise output, keep track of those early morning sore throats and runny noses. Any small increases in illnesses may indicate a poor immune system brought on by over training which means you are not allowing your body to recover enough between sessions.
– Gains In Body Fat % = Sometimes doing more doesn’t always lead to getting better results, especially if you are trying to reduce body fat. If you have been training like an Olympian but actually seen your body shape and definition getting worse, then it is due to over training. This is all to do with a hormonal response in the body caused by working out too much which can actually lead to muscle wasting and fat deposition. Basically you are working out too much and predominantly burning glucose and precious muscle tissue for fuel. This affects the testosterone:cortisol ratio and you end up holding onto body fat for energy. You want a positive ratio of testosterone to cortisol to build lean muscle and burn more fat. However training too much and/or sleeping to little will release too much cortisol and cause an increase in insulin resistance and fat storage, especially around the midsection on males and thighs and bums on females. Incorporating sufficient rest days into your weekly training programme and you will see better results. Sometimes less really is more!
SO WHAT SHOULD I DO TO ENSURE THAT I DON’T OVER TRAIN?
This is all about allowing more time for the body to recover and can be done in several easy ways. Taking a break from your training and allowing time for recovery is obviously the easiest way to reverse the effects of over training. Similarly reducing the volume and/or intensity of the training sessions that you are undertaking can allow more time for your body to recover between training sessions. Going to bed earlier and increasing the actual time that you sleep is paramount to recovering well, try to get AT LEAST 7 hours sleep each night!
Deep tissue massage or sports massage by a trained professional is a great way to reduce muscle soreness, tightness and pain. My clients are probably bored at how much I go on about stretching but it is so important no matter how active you are. Stretching morning, noon and night will stop your body becoming stiff, tight and has even been proven to increase the strength of your muscles.
I always say that diet and exercise go hand in hand and this is still the case for making sure your muscles get enough fuel to cope with your training volume, the stresses of everyday life and appropriate recovery. Make sure that you are consuming enough good quality calories from whole foods to deal with your calorific output (exercise and everyday movement). Eating LOTS of fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds will feed your body with a vast amount of high quality calories that are nutrient rich and packed with essential vitamins and minerals for recovery. To find out about getting the right nutritional plan to coincide with your training programme please get in contact with me today!