It’s great to be ambitious. It’s awesome that you’re a go-getter. Those lofty stretch goals? Excellent pursuits. But when your drive goes into overdrive, it can sometimes become counterproductive. That’s when it’s time to reassess.
If you don’t take a break, you’ll over train your body.
Simply put, overtraining is an imbalance between work and recovery: You are continually pushing your body beyond its capacity and are not giving it time to recover before you nail it with the next workout. Here are five of the red flags your body waves when it needs a break.
Overtraining Sign #1: Never-Ending Soreness
It’s one thing to have delayed-onset muscle soreness from a hard workout or long run. But if that soreness does not abate within a few days—or you feel chronically exhausted and beat up—you’re overdoing it.
Overtraining Sign #2: Sleeplessness
Overtraining often leads to insomnia, which can be debilitating for athletes in particular. Sleep is when you produce the hormones that facilitate muscle building and recovery. Inability to sleep or poor sleep quality means your body produces fewer recovery hormones and instead produces stress hormones like cortisol.
Overtraining Sign #3: Personality Changes
Overtraining is not just physical. There is a dramatic mental and emotional component as well. People can feel grumpy, depressed, anxious, or have a hard time focusing. And if you’re having trouble sleeping, you’ll be doubly fun to be around.
Overtraining Sign #4: Extreme Thirst
Because your body never has a chance to catch up and properly repair itself, you could be cannibalizing your quads. Continual training could put you in a catabolic state, where your body is using muscle tissue as fuel rather than carbs or fat. This has a dehydrating effect and could be causing insatiable thirst.
5-Steps to Stop Over Training
- Stop. Take some time off from your training schedule. This could be a few days to a week.
- Deload. Look at your training schedule and, every month, cycle in a deload period—a week or so where you still work out but with a recovery mentality. That means using lighter weight, doing slower cardio, and training for shorter sessions. “You can also alter such variables as volume, time, reps, distance, and the like,” says Lyons, “to allow your body to recover properly.”
- Regularly practice foam rolling or trigger-point therapy with a lacrosse or tennis ball, or even treat yourself to a professional massage now and again.
- Make sure you have at least one day of complete rest or active rest per week. Schedule a Netflix and chill session, or take a yoga class for mental and physical restoration.
- Eat clean, healthy foods to facilitate the repair processes and drink plenty of water.