Popular opinion would have us believe that we should all go hard or go home, all the time, no excuses. But science is discovering that you can work too hard, and thatconstantly tearing down your body, without the rest and lifestyle that will support your efforts, can actually do more harm than good.
If you’re proud to count yourself as a part of that extremely dedicated sec of our society who eat, sleep, and breath fitness, you may want to read on to make sure you’re not overtraining, and unwittingly negating all your hard work.
You may be thinking, “Overtraining? Not possible. More is better...right?” Wrong. If you’re working out beyond your body’s ability to rest and heal itself, you are susceptible to the problems that come as a result of overtraining. These troubles can take the form of:
- Extreme muscle soreness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dreading your workout
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, take a look at the following areas of your life, and decide whether or not you are taking good enough care to maintain a healthy balance.
Sleep: Rest is absolutely imperative to your healing and recovery process. You can tear yourself down over and over at the gym, but if you don’t take the time to rest and recuperate your losses, you’ll have a hard time seeing any gains.
Diet: It’s often said that abs are made in the kitchen. Well, they can be broken in the kitchen too. A poor diet, or one that is too calorie restricted, can deplete your body of vital nutrients, sap your energy, and make it impossible to sustain a high level of athleticism. Are you eating enough? Is it the right kind of food?
Stress: It’s a killer. And it’s a major cause of decreased motivation and fatigue. Take stock of your day and what’s really important. Can you manage your time differently to ease some of the pressure? Are there any high-stress forces you can control, or that could be eliminated from your life? Our entire system can go on strike when enough stress is introduced, and you’re not going to make any great strides in physical fitness if your body has downgraded its status to survival mode.
Diagnosing overtraining is really about looking at the entire person. And there is no clear cut one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “How much is too much?” The answer depends on you, and what your normal looks and feels like. If you think you may be overtraining, take some time off. Rest for a week, and then re engage. Listen to your body. It will reward you with health and vigor.