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The Fitness Zone

Signs of overtraining
November 10, 2014 | by

SA Director and Fitness Coach, Annette Chatterton explains what signs to look out for it you’re concerned you or a client may be overtraining.

Training is a “stress” applied to the body, and adaptation to these stresses improve our fitness. There are many physiological and psychological adaptations.

But what if the stress is so great that the body fails to adapt? Or what if the stress is compounded with other stresses and adaptation fails? Or if the stress is constantly at too high a level for that person’s physiology?

If stress is not managed properly it may blunt the adaptation and thus decrease athletic performance, health and even happiness.

Distress signals fall into three categories. These are all signs of overtraining. Early warning signs may go unnoticed at first, but if they are not recognised they may lead to chronic illness, injury or de-motivation.

1) Physiological signs

Dizziness, headaches, skin disorders, pounding heart, increased resting heart rate (6bpm higher), breathlessness, stomach aches, gastric upsets, fatigue, insomnia, hunger but loss of appetite.

2) Emotional signs

Anxiety, depression, being temperamental or moody, panic, lack of interest, boredom, loss of self esteem, and “snappiness”.

3) Behavioural signs

Disturbed sleeping patterns, feeling overtired, frequently distracted, forgetfulness, lack of attention, or lack of attention to detail, abnormal eating habits, loss of appetite, withdrawal from and disinterested in training and competing, but feeling like you “have to” train.

Recognising the warning signs is the first step. Then taking time to rest and recover is important. Also seek support and counselling to address the training volume and/or intensity. An honest discussion with your Coach is important. Perhaps try stress reducing techniques, like meditation and yoga, as well as relaxing walks or recreation.

In the long term it is important to address the training plan in conjunction with the added stresses in your life.


Annette is the Founding Director of the Australian Institute of Fitness SA/NT. She has been an active Coach and Fitness Presenter for over 30 years. Her interests lie in aqua, personal training, triathlons snow skiing, and sports coaching.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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