Overtraining, Overload Syndrome, and Hyperkinetic Condition
Lets start off by recognizing that the term overtraining is overused by personal trainers and fitness consultants. This has led to recreational athletes and clients decreasing workloads well below optimal levels in fear of being too aggressive with their training. With that in mind, it is still possible to push yourself too hard for too long and actually see a decrease in performance. The key is to find a balance, and understand the signs and symptoms of true overtraining syndrome.
What to look for:
General fatigue –Proper exercise should leave you energized and in a great mood for a good period of time after your workout. If you have trouble getting motivated during your workouts and continue to feel tired or groggy throughout the day, this may be a symptom of overtraining.
Increased Resting Heart Rate – Find out what your resting heart rate is and track it. A normal resting heart rate is around 80 bpm, and a healthy runner may have a HR closer to 50 bpm. Find out what is normal for you by taking your heart rate for a full minute on your radial pulse before getting out of bed in the morning (put two fingers on the underside of your wrist). Document and track your normal morning heart rate then note any increase of 5 or more beats above normal. Remember it is natural for your HR to increase dramatically during exercise, but it should resume to a normal range within no more than 60 minutes after exercise. An increased resting HR may be a sign of overtraining.
Trouble sleeping – Another big difference between someone who is engaged in an intense training program and one who is suffering from overtraining is often the quality of sleep. A tough day of training should deplete your energy to a reasonable level and actually help you fall asleep quicker and feel more refreshed upon waking. An over-trained individual may have trouble falling asleep and feel restless at night.
Decreased performance –Your training should provide positive results in strength and endurance. Progression in physical fitness is based on the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) which basically describes the way in which you overload your body with a physical stress, the body is weakened for a period of time, and then the body heals and adapts making it stronger. If you aren’t making progress or you’re stuck in the weakened phase, you may be overtraining. The body needs adequate rest and nutrition in order to “super-compensate” for the stresses that are placed on it during each training session. Not getting enough sleep, a significant calorie deficit, or not taking rest days may all contribute to overtraining.
Increase in sickness or injuries – Lastly, overtraining may cause a decrease in immunity. While regular exercise is known to boost immunity and well-being, overtraining may do just the opposite. Nagging injuries to the tendons and ligaments in the lower legs, knees, and hips may also become stressed from overuse.
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, consider taking 3 days of complete rest and evaluating your training, sleep, and nutrition. Remember that more isn’t always better!