Exercise Overkill: Are you Overtraining?
Exercising can be addicting. Many fitness buffs get a “rush” of adrenaline when they work out. They live by the motto of “No pain, No gain.” Scientifically, this slogan is accurate because the process of muscle-building requires stressing muscles to their limits, which causes micro-tears.
The body responds to this stimuli by feeding more nutrients to the muscle, which eventually results in a longer, stronger muscle. Unfortunately, if people overtrain, they might suffer any number of symptoms, including chronic fatigue, headaches and injuries.
Symptoms of overtraining
Overtraining is “pushing your body too hard” without providing adequate nutrition or rest. These are some of the symptoms of overtraining:
- Appetite loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Elevated heart rate
- Immune system damage
- Injury risk heightened
- Joints, bones or limbs hurt
How can overtraining damage the body?
Workouts should gradually increase in frequency, intensity and length like steps on a ladder. If any of these are increased too rapidly, it could lead to training overkill. After a workout, the muscles have been temporarily damaged; numerous amino acids are burned-up leading to “protein deficiency.”
The body requires a combination of essential proteins (eggs, chicken and meat), carbohydrates (wheat bread, oatmeal and fruit) and fats (olive oil, almonds and peanut butter) to rebuild itself.A lack of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients can lead to overtraining problems. Common vitamin deficiencies that occur with hard workouts include the following: Vitamin A, B12, C, D, E, K and Folic Acid. Common mineral deficiencies after intense workouts include the following: Calcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc. The body needs time to recover and plenty of nutrients to repair itself.
Long-Term repercussions of overtraining
An adequate rest time between workouts is necessary so that muscles can fully recover. When people overtrain by exercising too hard or too frequently, without adequate nutrition increases and rest, this could lead to permanent damage to the body. This overtraining can lead to decreased athletic performance, loss of strength and muscle-wasting as long-term effects.
What should you do after overtraining?
Immediately, when you feel like you have overtrained, you need to rest your body. Make sure that you get at least eight hours of sleep. Wait 48 to 72 hours before working out again. Increase your nutrition – focus on eating foods that are rich in proteins. You will need to reduce the intensity, frequency and length of your workouts.
Tips for avoiding overtraining
Before starting an exercise regimen, take a baseline resting heart rate. Take your heart rate at the same time every day. Your heart rate should go down considerably after your workout. Keep a training log with your workout and recovery schedule. It should show which muscle groups you work on. The fitness regimen should work different muscle groups on successive days, i.e. one day for upper body, the next day for lower body.
Remember that the direct training of certain muscles leads to indirect training of other muscles. Exercise routines must build up stamina, strength and flexibility gradually. The body must be trained to handle a higher threshold of fitness over time. Increase caloric intake when exercising. Add vitamin supplements or protein drinks to your diet. Stretching helps reduce injuries. Massages can help loosen muscles after a strenuous workout. If your muscles ache too much after a workout, then hot-and-cold therapy can provide comfort and prevent injuries.
James MacGrath runs supplement-deals.co.uk, a price comparison and resource website for sports nutrition supplements, including the popular PhD Diet Whey. James takes a keen interest in reading and writing about nutrition, diet, fitness and general health.