Written by Lisa Allen, MD
Overtraining can be a real pain in the ass. Pretty much every bodybuilder has felt the pain of overtraining, even if they weren’t able to connect the symptoms to the problem.
Overtraining can be defined as exercising to the point that your body cannot properly recover. If you have ever worked out and your muscles have been sore for more than a couple of days, you have probably experienced overtraining.
There are several symptoms of overtraining but the most common are:
- Lack of energy, drained feeling
- Sore joints
- Excessively sore muscles
- Drop in performance
- Loss of appetite
Some of the less common symptoms are:
- Compulsive exercise to remove symptoms
There are also varying degrees of overtraining. Of course, everyone’s body is different, but a general guideline is that when you work out, you are trying to build muscle. If you are burning more calories than you are taking in to replace and replenish muscle than you may be overtraining. Keep in mind that a large portion of these calories need to be protein, because this is the most effective macronutrient for rebuilding muscle tissue.
Treatment of overtraining is incredibly simple: cut back on your exercise. Another thing you can do is to increase you protein intake to help rebuild the tissue you have broken down. You should be doing this anyway, but if you feel that your soreness is lasting too long (longer than 2-3 days) then you need to increase your protein intake. Finally, you need to be drinking plenty of fluids to help circulate nutrients through your system.
Avoiding overtraining is also simple. A good recommendation is to workout with weights no more than 4-5 times per week. This workout session should be no longer than an hour to an hour-and-a-half long. Workout duration has been studied extensively by exercise scientists and physiologists. The studies showed that after one hour of resistance training, cortisol
levels (the stress hormone that breaks down muscle and is catabolic) exceeds testosterone levels. And we all know that testosterone is what we want in the gym.
Throughout this website you will notice a common theme: diet is essential. In fact, most bodybuilders will say that if you are eating enough protein, than overtraining is nearly impossible. This is why overtraining happens the most to those who are trying to lose weight and gain muscle. For these individuals, you will need to find a balance between training and caloric consumption. You can also choose which endeavor you will pursue: gaining muscle or losing fat, because doing both at the same time is near impossible.
Hopefully this article has helped you learn about overtraining, how to avoid it, and the proper treatment of it.