The Fitness Zone
This article was originally written by Annette Chatterton in 2014 and has been adapted in 2020 by the AIF Communications Team.
What is ‘overtraining?”
Overtraining implies that, with an enhanced training stimulus (excessively near or at maximal), the body and mind are unable to meet demands.
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?
Inadequate management of these stresses will often lead to an unpleasant phenomenon known as ‘burn out’; a state of physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.
Sometimes your client (or you) may have no idea that they are overtraining or even experiencing a state of ‘burn-out’, so it is crucial to look for the warning signs.
Distress signals fall into three categories; all of which are 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 the 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 enough time to properly rest and recover before getting back into training is crucial.
In the long term, it is important to address the training plan in conjunction with the added stresses in your life and implement practices to help you best deal with these additional out of gym stresses you may be facing.
When creating a new workout schedule, swap one or two of your weekly weights sessions out for something less intense, like yoga or a long walk and ensure you are getting enough sleep, water and healthy food in each day.
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