Whether you’re a relative exercise newbie who’s just discovered their motivation for fitness, or a seasoned pro who’s been training for years, there is always potential for overtraining. The following signs should serve as warning flags that all is not well with your current fitness efforts.
Your resting heart rate is lower or higher than the average for your age
When a person over trains, their heart reacts as a result of the imposing metabolic demands placed upon it. To keep a tab on your heart rate, simply hook yourself up to the gym’s equipment (which usually has metal-strip monitors on machines such as the treadmills, cross trainers and bikes). If you find that your resting heart rate is not as it should be, then it’s time to talk to a doctor. Here’s an overview of the average male resting heart rates for age ranges and fitness level.
Male resting heart rates
Female resting heart rates
Source: Top End Sports
You can also take your heart rate manually. To do this place your first two fingers on the side of your neck, below your jaw, or on your wrist, until you find a pulse. Then count the number of pulses you feel in one minute.
Feeling thirsty all of the time?
If you simply can’t sate your appetite for liquids then your body may be telling you that it’s entered a catabolic state – where the body begins to use its own muscle as a source of protein, a symptom of which is dehydration. You can solve this by rest, plenty of water and a reduction in your gym routine.
Exhaustion and illness
Exercise should provide you with energy and a feeling of rejuvenation – not exhaustion and a situation where you get sick far more easily. If you’re experiencing the latter then your body is telling you that it needs rest, or more rest, than it’s currently receiving.
Sore muscles for days upon days on end
Muscles should feel sore after working out – it’s a sign that the muscle fibres are breaking down, from which they can then re-build themselves to be stronger. However muscle soreness should only last for one to two days. Should you be feeling the burn after this time period then it’s clear that your muscles aren’t healing as they should be, which will then affect your exercise efforts and potential results.
You feel slow, sluggish and drained all day
Overtraining directly impacts the sympathetic nervous system, particularly for those in peak physical fitness. The lowered testosterone and increased levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that emerge from this system can cause you to feel drained and, in the worst of instances, as though you’re falling ill.
Exercise can reap some incredible rewards – and whilst we’re continually bombarded with the benefits of exercise, there’s often not so much attention placed upon the opposite end of the scale. Be body smart when it comes to overtraining, and always bear the above pointers in mind, especially if you’ve just embarked on a new fitness regime, or have stepped your efforts up recently.