While you should be exercising most days in some form, it is important to be aware that you can over train. Too much exercise can be very harmful to your health, especially if you group very intense workouts closely together.
Over time, overtraining can lower your fitness level, hinder your performance, as well as cause injuries, and potentially cause damage to your immune system. That’s why it’s so important for us to be aware of the signs of overtraining, but also what we can do about them. Let’s take a closer look.
Exercise is fantastic for your immune system, but if you aren’t feeling great after exercise, you are very likely doing too much for your body to cope. It’s important that we exert ourselves in the right way. But when we do too much, we will start to feel run down, potentially get sick more often, and could be prone to infections and mild illnesses.
To make sure you are not feeling run down after every workout, the first thing you need to do is listen to your body. If you are unwell the next day after a particularly grueling workout, and you were planning to do another one, it is so important to have a rest day. Rest is very important because it allows you to recover in the best way for your body. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all component, but the pillars of adequate recovery are nutrition and rest.
Working out should make you hungry, but if you work out too much, you may be too exhausted to eat. You could also experience hormonal imbalances, especially when it comes to your hunger hormone ghrelin. Too much exercise will decrease your appetite and can result in drastic weight loss.
The easy solution to this is to focus on the right levels of nutrition for your needs. Some people think that losing weight is the best thing when it comes to exercise, but the fact is if you engage in really intense exercise, and you want to build muscle and strength, it is important to have a calorie deficit, but not too much of a calorie deficit.
There are many calculators online that can help with this, but you also have to recognize how good your nutrition really is to help you recover. Having the right amount of protein is important for muscle growth, but you should also think about the foods that will help you recover better.
There’s a lot more focus on natural herbs and supplements to help you recover, such as ashwagandha and lion’s mane mushrooms. You can see the benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms here and how they can impact your immune system and allow you to recover, but you also have to recognize that if you want to be stronger you have to give your body the nutrition it needs.
Soreness, Pain, and Strain
If you are undergoing high-intensity interval training, and you are not recovering adequately, you could experience what is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). If you exercise intensely, you’re putting a lot of strain on your body. You are over-stressing your body, which will cause inflammation in the short term, and while some inflammation is good because this will help your body to develop resilience, if you’re doing too much to hinder your recovery you will struggle in the long term.
This is why recovery is focused on reducing soreness, but also understand that you can reduce this effectively, for example, by using contrast showers to flush out the lactic acid, using supplements like magnesium malate to reduce the pain, but also warming your body effectively. Please note that this is different from warming up, however, both are crucial.
If you do not warm up your body effectively, you are not giving your muscles the pliability to endure a hard workout, which is why you will feel sorer. Proper stretching will make a big difference to reducing soreness, and you should never skip your warm-ups. But also, warming your body contributes to vasodilation, which can help the oxygen transport around the body better, meaning that you will get a better workout, but you are also a sending the appropriate signals around the body.
You might see some people putting garbage bags over their bodies to get a sweat on, and you may notice that if you do this, you are going to relax your muscles more, but it’s important to not overdo this. Heating your body for too long can be very dangerous.
A Decline in Performance
If you exercise too much, you will either plateau or decrease your performance. If you find yourself decreasing in your performance, it’s important to add more rest days. Exercise is not just about strength at that moment, but it’s about endurance, and a lot of this is to do with your nervous system recovering.
You have to remember that for your muscles to recover, you have to give at least 48 hours for muscle protein synthesis to finish its job, but if you find yourself feeling more tired, and the workouts are becoming more challenging, you can benefit from an extra rest day. But you should also check to see if your nervous system has recovered.
One of the ways to do this is to check your carbon dioxide levels, which normally cannot be done unless you visit a hospital but there is a simple test you can do to address your recovery:
- Take three deep breaths in and out.
- On the fifth breath, blow out through your mouth slowly.
- The longer it takes, the more you are recovered.
It’s best to do this as soon as you wake up in the morning. But a good rule of thumb is anywhere between 40 and 60 seconds as a sign of good recovery.
Lack of Motivation
There are many reasons that we don’t recover from workouts, and if we are feeling like there is no motivation to do it, this is not just due to physical exhaustion; we have to remember that stress plays its part in our abilities to recover. If you are experiencing a lot in your life, and then you try to hit the gym five times a week, you can’t be surprised if you hit a plateau.
There is nothing wrong with taking an extended break. In fact, many people can take seven days to recover. Recovering is subjective so it is different for every person. But if you are experiencing a lot of stress in your life, this could cause you to under eat, not sleep properly, and not focus your energies in the right ways.
Sometimes, we can make changes to a workout and this will help us feel reinvigorated. Remember, exercising is not just about hitting the gym and squatting a certain amount, but it can be about playing sports, hanging out with the kids, walking, and so forth. If you are experiencing stress in your life, but you still feel you need to get up and run around, do not do it in the confines of the gym. Instead, think about things that are fun and don’t feel like exercise. You may be very surprised that when you come back to doing exercise after a while, that you have not just broken through your plateau, but you have added to it!
It is so important to make a full recovery after every workout because this means you will be building on your strength every single time. If you do not recover, it’s the equivalent of digging a hole for yourself and not being able to get out. It could make you weaker over time.
Have a look at some of these signs and see if they are familiar. Remember, recovery is not just about the physical, but it’s about the nervous system as well.