Overtraining the body without taking time to rest can have a physical and mental impact on athletes and exercisers, leading to a condition known as overtraining syndrome. Excessive training can result in long-term decreases in athletic performance, which can take weeks or months to recover from.
Overtraining's psychological effects can also result in unfavorable mood changes. Some research has linked overtraining syndrome to increased anxiety and depression symptoms. Learn how to recognize the signs of overtraining and what you can do to cut back to avoid injury or burnout.
Overtraining Syndrome: Definition and Signs
Overtraining syndrome occurs when you exercise too much or too hard without giving your body enough time to rest. It's common among elite athletes who push themselves beyond their bodies ability to recover, especially when preparing for a competition or sporting event.
There are several signs to look for that may indicate you are overtraining. The following are some of the most common symptoms of overtraining syndrome:
- Appetite suppression or weight loss
- Feelings of depression, anxiety, moodiness, or irritability
- Injuries or headaches
- Heart rhythm or heart rate irregularity
- Sense of being washed out, tired, or drained
- Reduced competitiveness
- Reduced immunity
- Mild muscle or joint pain
- Reduced intensity, or performance during training
- Concentration issues
Tips to Prevent Overtraining
Because everyone responds differently to different training routines, predicting whether you're at risk for overtraining can be difficult. However, it is critical for anyone to vary their training throughout the year and schedule adequate rest time. It is advised that you objectively measure your training routine and make adjustments along the way to avoid injury.
While there are numerous methods for objectively detecting overtraining, psychological signs and symptoms associated with changes in your mental state are frequently an indicator. If you believe you are training too hard, try the following strategies to avoid overtraining syndrome.
1. Monitor your mood.
After a few days of intense overtraining, decreased positive feelings for sports and increased negative feelings such as depression, anger, fatigue, and irritability are common. When you notice these feelings, take some time to rest or reduce the intensity.
2. Keep a training log.
A training log that includes a note about how you feel each day can assist you in noticing downward trends and diminished enthusiasm. It's critical to pay attention to your body's signals and rest when you're feeling especially tired.
3. Check your heart rate.
Another option is to monitor your heart rate over time. Make a note of your heart rate at rest and at various exercise intensities while training. If your heart rate rises at rest or at a given intensity, you may be suffering from overtraining syndrome, especially if any of the symptoms listed above appear.
4. Do a heart rate test.
The orthostatic heart rate test can also be used to assess your recovery. Rest for 10 minutes, then record your heart rate for a minute, stand up, and record your beats per minute at different intervals (15 seconds, 90 seconds, and 120 seconds).
Athletes who are well-rested will have a consistent heart rate between measurements, whereas athletes on the verge of overtraining will have a significant increase (10 beats per minute or more) at the 120-second measurement.
Now that you understand the signs and symptoms of overtraining syndrome, the first step toward returning to your regular training regimen is rest, hydration, and proper nutrition. Returning to peak performance may take some time, so try to be patient with yourself during the recovery process. Consult your doctor if your symptoms persist or if you are having difficulty striking a healthy balance between training and rest.
Always remember to listen to your body when participating in any physical activity. Recognize when you are working too hard and allow yourself to rest. Working one-on-one with a sports medicine doctor, physical therapist, or personal trainer after you've recovered can help you reach your fitness goals.