Overtraining Syndrome – Why Less Is More
Overtraining is a simple concept: it occurs when you train too much, to the point at which your efforts not only fail to produce positive results but are actually counterproductive.
This can be caused by training the same body parts too frequently so that the body does not have time to recover before the next workout; workouts that are consistently harder than the body is able to recover from fully; or impairment of the body’s normal recovery ability due to nutritional deficiencies, illness, or stress.
Most common causes of overtraining (how overtraining occurs): (a) inadequate recovery between training sessions, (b) too much high intensity training, typically for too long, (c) high volumes of endurance training, (d) no vacations, breaks, or off-seasons, (e) inadequate nutrition, typically in the form of caloric and carbohydrate/fat restriction, (f) insufficient sleep, (g) high amounts of stress and anxiety.
Chronically exceeding the body’s ability to recover by overreaching causes the body to stop progressing and actually lose some of the gains that were made in strength and muscle mass.
Doing too much volume in the gym can make you weaker, compromise your immune system, and make you more injury prone because muscles, ligaments, and tendons can become strained, sprained, or even torn when overloaded in a fatigued state.
Training with too much volume suppresses levels of the anabolic (muscle-building) hormones testosterone and growth hormone in your body and increases levels of the hormone cortisol, which in high amounts causes muscle wasting.
The early signs of overtraining from too much weight include increased resting hearth rate, difficulty in sleeping, increased sweating, and altered emotions. The early signs of overtraining from lifting too much volume or too often include decreased resting heart rate, digestions problems, fatigue, loss of motivation, energy, drive, and enthusiasm to train, inability to relax and lower blood pressure.
It should be noted that not all of these symptoms will be present, and that the presence of some of these symptoms does not automatically mean an individual is overtrained. The ultimate determination of overtraining is whether performance is impaired or plateaued. So primary indicator is a loss of performance capacity.
If overtraining from resistance exercise has occurred, several simple steps can be taken, including:
- Stop exercising
- Reduce the number of sets and reps, length of time, or intensity of training
- Introduce recovery days and weeks
- Relieve tension and stress
- Identify nutritional deficiencies in your diet
- Listen to your body