Overtraining, or Overtraining Syndrome, is a serious topic in our current environment. For those involved in daily exercise, it can seem like a failure to miss a single training day. Our instant gratification lifestyles can cause us to see each spinning class, Olympic lifting session, or Crossfit WOD as the coup de grace to our just-out-of-reach training goals. Unfortunately, this mindset can allow even the most educated fitness professionals to push past the point of effective exercise and into the realm of overtraining.

There are many signs and symptoms of overtraining. Physiological, performance related and psychological symptoms will manifest differently in each individual and many can be difficult to recognize. An increased resting heart rate, lower testosterone levels and higher cortisol levels are just some of the physiological symptoms that the average exercise participant will be unlikely to notice. However, there are symptoms that are easier to identify:

  1. Prolonged muscle soreness

Muscle soreness can be a common occurrence when you are attempting to push your body to new limits physically. However, constant or delayed muscle soreness can be a red flag signaling that your body is not recovering properly.

  1. Decreased immune function

Individuals who are overtraining may notice an increase in the frequency that they experience minor sicknesses. Although working out is usually associated with increased immune function, research continues to show that long-term intense exercise associated with overtraining results in suppression of the immune system.

  1. Increased susceptibility to injury

With overtraining syndrome, you may notice that you are become injured frequently. Although you may not experience a serious injury such as an ACL tear, minor injuries should still be seen as an indicator of a bigger issue and not as a norm for your weekly training regimen.

  1. Amenorrhea

Female exercisers may experience amenorrhea, loss of menstrual cycle, when overtraining. This serious symptom is in turn linked to a decrease in bone density, making the individual even more susceptible to injuries such as stress fractures.

The take home message? Recovery is an important component to any training plan. Listen to your body and continue exercising safely and effectively. Happy Lifting!


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