Overtraining is a very real and extremely frustrating occurrence to those who are passionate and motivated fitness enthusiasts. If you aren’t careful and monitor your exercise regimen or routine, you may end up as the victim from the wrath of overtraining.
Overtraining can come in many different forms. It can be triggered when doing an exceedingly long amount of cardio, or even doing a shorter amount of aerobic exercise but at an unhealthily intense rate. Overworking the muscles as it pertains to weight lifting is also a very real issue among athletes. Attempting to use too much weight with an insufficient amount of recovery or shortened rest periods is one of the most popular reasons people fall into overtraining. Although, it can also make its presence known when starting a new routine that you have not yet become comfortable with.
The recipe for overtraining is very simple. Essentially, it all comes down to two components in a very simple equation:
Too High Intensity + Insufficient rest = Overtraining
Once you know this little mathematical equation, your overtraining days should come to an end. Listening to your body and being able to tune in to how its feeling will help you ultimately become a healthier and successful fitness practitioner.
With the above being noted, there are a number of things you can do for yourself in order to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Below are my top 5 tips to prevent overtraining.
Tip #1: Don’t Push Too Hard
This has got to be the most important tip you can get. Yet, for some reason, it is also the most overlooked. People will literally work themselves until they’re blue in the face when it comes to fitness and exercise. Like they say, anything in moderation is good. But once you start to push your body too hard, you run the increased risk of feeling what it’s like to overtrain. The human body is a very smart device. Especially when it comes to keeping itself healthy. You will know when your body has had a good workout, just like you will know when it starts to compensate for fatigue, lack of energy and strength. Listen to your muscles. If they’ve had enough, the likelihood is that you have also.
Tip #2: Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
This is an area in which many people struggle as well. The rule of thumb is that we, as healthy individuals, need between 8-10 hours of sleep daily for optimal recovery. As full-time workers, students, parents, or any combination of the three, getting this much sleep can be difficult. But, there are ways to make this happen, even if it comes down to getting that recovery at different times throughout the 24 hour day. If you don’t sleep for 8-10 hours per night, try lying down or resting for an hour, post workout.
Another option is to do what the Europeans do. Sometime mid-afternoon, take a nap if you can. That is a great solution because it allows you to escape the daily stresses of work, while at the same time assisting in providing your muscles with the most amount of rest and recovery possible. But, like I said, you don’t necessarily have to be sleeping in order to obtain this muscle restoration. Lying down and just watching television, reading, or even listening to music are all great ways to give those muscles a rest. It comes down to giving yourself enough time in a sedentary state so that you are not working the muscle tissue, thus, helping those fibers rebuild after exercise or daily usage.
Tip #3: Carbs Don’t Kill
Many people are under the impression that consuming carbohydrates will force you to gain weight. This is simply not true. Carbohydrates are as important to the human body when it comes to exercise and muscle gain as proteins are. Yes, too many of the wrong types of carbs can cause the body to gain excess weight. However, eating the right ones and knowing when to ingest them will be nothing more than beneficial to your exercise routine and will ultimately help in keeping you as far away from overtraining as you want to be. Carbohydrates supply the body with energy. In addition, they also help in muscle recovery. Eating some whole grain bread, brown rice, or oatmeal before a workout can help give you a little extra boost when it comes to hitting the gym or going on a run, and eating them post-workout will help in rebuilding those muscles strong and healthy.
Tip #4: Treat Yourself To Some Hands On Care
Getting yourself a massage can make a world of difference when it comes to keeping your body from going into an overtrained state, and it feels great too! Many people don’t realize how beneficial a nice deep muscle massage can be. Not only does it loosen up the muscles in the body, it also releases the buildup of toxins beneath the surface of our extremities. Benefits of doing this after a workout session will be a fresh, rejuvenated feeling, as well as a lack of tightness and soreness within the muscles.
Tip #5: Take Some Time Off
If you have worked out hard for 4 or 5 days straight, give yourself a break with a couple of days to recuperate. Overtraining normally hits the whole body, rather than just one muscle group. So in order to prevent this from occurring, after a full week of intense weight training and/or cardio make sure to chill out, relax and take a load off. This time will not only allow your body to recover from the previous weeks routine, but it will also have you feeling fresh and strong for next weeks regimen.
At the end of the day, if you follow these tips overtraining should not be a problem for you. But, like I said earlier, you need to be willing to take the time understand that your body needs proper attention. Because if you manage to overlook even one aspect of the five above, you very likely could be susceptible to overtraining.