Overtraining: What is it and how to avoid it!


Overtraining; we have all heard of it but don’t expect us to be the one to suffer from it.
It is a most common for competitive athletes or runners to suffer from overtraining, but anyone
who consistently works out hard could also be overtraining as well. Overtraining occurs when
the intensity and volume of your exercise exceeds the body’s recovery time and therefore
causes strength loss and maybe even injury. Weight lifters, runners, athletes get in the mindset
that you need to push through pain and struggle in order to grow and reach their goals, this is
not the case. You do not need to work out 7 days a week, 365 days a year to run your marathon
time or lift 2 times your bodyweight in a competition. In fact, it is strongly recommended to
take at least 1 rest day a week to allow your body to recover and make the changes you have
been working so hard for.




If you don’t already know, the nervous system is a network of nerve cells that sends impulse signals from one part to another. Our entire body is built around the nervous system; it tells our heart to pump and our eyes to blink. The two different systems in our body are the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (nerves to and from the central nervous system). The Peripheral system is then broken down into the somatic (touch, hearing, muscle movement) and the autonomic (internal senses for gut and smooth muscles in gut). The final breakdown is from the autonomic system to the sympathetic Flight or Fight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest). Overtraining is going to effect the bottom of the tier, sympathetic and parasympathetic systems!

Sympathetic system releases catecholamine which induces increased heart rate, tightens muscles and constricts blood vessels. This occurs because the secretion of adrenaline(or epinephrine) allows the body to keep moving, and therefore running on a hormone imbalance instead of energy sources from nutrition. This is most common in sprinters and weight lifters.

The parasympathetic system increases heart rate, blood pressure and temperature; it also increases intestinal movements to conserve energy to be used for training instead of internal organ function. This occurs in endurance athletes such as marathon runners and long duration athletes.

Sympathetic overtraining is said to be the more extreme type. This is because weight lifters don’t tend to enter the parasympathetic system and therefore causes the body to work in the elevated state of epinephrine which can cause injury.

Signs of Overtraining:

  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Loss of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Increased injury
  • Halted progress

Sometimes a takes weeks to realize that all of the problems that are arising are actually
from your exercise routine and not from your everyday life routine.

Preventing Overtraining



In Weight Lifters:

  • Cycle your workouts (phases of low weight and heavy weight)
  • Take rest days (at least one FULL day of rest and one or two days of just cardiovascular
  • Change up your splits (switch muscle groups you work together frequency)
  • Change up the exercises performed




In Endurance Athletes:

  • Follow the 90 percent rule (leave some fuel left in the tank after runs)
  • Always follow a training plan (long runs and short runs mixed together)
  • Vary your workouts (throw in some intervals or weight lifting)
  • Nutrition needs to be key (get your carbohydrates in)



Overall, it is important to add in rest and low intensity periods to ALL training programs. We need to work hard when the time is right, and we need to take some rest when the time is
right. Listen to your body. If you’re sick or tired, maybe it’s a good idea to take a rest day, so
you can fully recover and get back on the horse the next day. Studies have shown that even 3
weeks, 21 days, of low intensity or rest will not decrease performance levels. So don’t freak out
if you miss a few days because LIFE HAPPENS! Just enjoy the ride, take advantage of the things
your body can do, and push yourself to your limits….but always take that rest day!


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Haley Rowe September 27, 2017