Over-Training; Know Your Enemy
Whilst we might be mentally strong and have a will of iron we are of course human, made of human stuff. The mind is strong but the flesh can only go so far. We can exercise a lot but there is such a thing as too much. What is over-training, how can we spot it and how can we best avoid it? Let's find out.
Over-training is when the body quite simple cannot take more sustained physical exerction either through cardiovascular exercise or resistance exercise. Everyone is susceptible to this no matter how fit we are. It can be quite a debilitating occurance as the symptoms can range from DOMS (achy muscles) to sickness due to a temporarily damaged immune system. In extreme circumstances overtraining can lead to pulled tendons and for younger gym-goers it can lead to stress fractures.
So you see, over-training is a nasty bugger that we should avoid. The difficult thing is that the over-training mark is different for almost everyone. One of the indicators of over-training is muscle pain that is often dull but won't go away. Another indicator is a general lack of energy for the rest of the day. Usually after the gym you would feel tired but invigorated; but if you finish the gym and find it difficult to move normally, feel lethargic for a long period of time or anything like that for the rest of the day after the gym it's quite possible you are over-training.
The indicators for over-training should not be confused with the indicators of a below-par diet. Slight over-training indicators are similar to not eating enough food after the gym which is quite common. To avoid this make sure you are replacing the calories you burn off in relation to a balanced and healthy diet. Therefore if you feel tired then you know it's because of over-training not your diet.
Over-training affects your body in a way that can hamper your fitness goal. If the body has run out of energy and needs to get more energy from somewhere in your body it will start to break down muscle because muscle contains witin it more energy nutrients than fat. Your body could essentially eat itself in order to keep the important organs going. Over-training especially in cardiovascular exercise can lead to scar tissue developing around the heart. In order to avoid that make sure that you only raise your heart rate to 75% + every other day. That's a general rule but it can be different for other people.
This leads me to explain how to best avoid over-training. Well firstly you must know what it is. We have covered that. Over-training is best avoided by fitness planning, so the second thing to do is to create a fitness programme in which every day is a completely different type of training to the day before. For example a short, heavy, sustained cardio session should always be followed by a long and easy cardio session or a rest day and visa versa. Equally a heavy weighted squat and and abs day could be followed by a relatively heavy chest and shoulders day with some cardio in it. Play around with it and you will avoid over-training one exercise easily.
Does the threat of over-training mean we need to have rest days? Well if you are set on rest days have just two of them, space them between 2/3 workout days. If like me you don't believe in rest days then as I said planning is important and even more so for us dedicated people. Rest days can be a really good idea for people who are training for a marathon or a specific event, in fact I would recomend it because no rest day training is suseptible to over-training if not so well planned. Choose which camp you are in!
Over-training is really boring because it can hold us back when we want to go forward, it can force us to stop exercising and go backwards in some cases. The best way to avoid this is to be smart, think ahead and know when to stop. With all of that in mind you should be fine! Well, i hope so.