Is there such a thing as working out too often? Yes!
If you’re feeling exhausted, achy, and moody after a few sessions at the gym or working out, you might be overtraining.
Too much exercise can actually have the opposite effect of what you’re intending to do, especially if your workouts are close together without time to rest in between. And while the goal of exercising is to eventually improve your stamina and performance, it’s always important to work out within your own personal limits and allow for plenty of recovery time to avoid this kind of burnout.
Let’s take a close look at what overtraining entails so you can take measures to avoid it.
What is Overtraining?
At the most basic level, overtraining is when you work out without allowing enough time to recover between sessions (and this goes for a variety of workouts, including weight training, cardio, and HIIT sessions). While this typically affects athletes – especially single-sport athletes – casual and avid gym-goers can also feel the effects of overtraining.
Overtraining typically occurs after a few days of consistent exercise, but it can also happen after your first day back at the gym, especially if you push past your limits and don’t properly fuel your workout. In other words, regardless of whether or not you’re an athlete, when your body doesn’t have the energy to sustain your exercise or you don’t take proper post-workout care, overtraining is bound to happen.
Signs of Overtraining
How do you know if you’re overtraining? Here are a few symptoms of overtraining:
- Muscle pain, soreness, and strain
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and mood swings
- Weakened immune system
- Halted progress at the gym
- Decreased motivation
Overall, the effects of overtraining can impact you both physically and mentally. Extreme exhaustion and muscle aches are different from those you experience after your average workout and are accompanied by mood swings and a lack of motivation to go back to the gym (or sometimes do any other physical activity).
As you can see, overtraining can seriously hinder your progress in the gym, so it’s best to avoid doing it if you can.
How to Recover From Overtraining
Of course, sometimes overtraining can happen even if you try your best to fuel your body properly and workout within your limits. If this happens and you begin to feel the effects, here are some things you can do to recover:
Rest: The absolute first thing you should do to recover from overtraining is to let your body rest. Some experts say that it may be best to stop training for at least a week or reduce your exercise routine by 50-80%. Of course, you can still do light activities like walking or household chores, but it’s best to avoid doing any strenuous physical activity. The same is true for getting plenty of sleep – your body will need it during this time!
Nutrition: Not only does the right food fuel your body for a workout, but it can also help it recover. Nutrition is the key to any fitness plan, and depending on the level of exercise you do, it should be incorporated into a post-workout recovery plan. If you’re overtrained, it’s important to ensure you stay hydrated and eat enough protein. Protein is essential for rebuilding and repairing the muscles that you strained.
Some of our favorite protein-packed meals to help with your recovery:
- Chicken Chile Enchiladas
- Naked Beef
- Bison Quinoa Bowl
- Naked Chicken
- Cacio e Pepe with Rosemary Chicken
- And more!
Even if you’re feeling burnout, these meals are easy to make. Simply heat them up and enjoy while you take a much-deserved rest (bonus: no dishes to clean up!).
Adapt: Overtraining is your body telling you it’s time to stop what you’re doing and reassess your approach. A major part of your recovery will be changing your routine to ensure this doesn’t happen again. First, you should assess your workout habits and decide if a change in your exercise level is necessary. This might mean taking things slow or cross-training in other areas as your affected muscles recover.
Additionally, you should consider how you can improve or support your workouts in the long run. Think a deep tissue massage or better pre-or-post-workout nutrition (protein, protein, protein!).
Want to learn more about healthy workout habits and the foods you can use to fuel your body before and after training? Check out the Snap Kitchen blog!