Overtraining: What is it and how can you avoid it? – Mitchell Pateman AEP

Exercise is extremely beneficial to the body in terms of reducing chronic disease risk, improving cardiorespiratory fitness, and increasing muscular strength. The term ‘no pain, no gain’ is commonly used when it comes to exercise. However, this belief can not only be detrimental to performance, but can also be dangerous to your health.

Overtraining can be considered as having an excessive volume or intensity of exercise with an inadequate period of rest or recovery. Typically, this is seen in athletes that are preparing for competition when training loads are significantly increased. In the short-term overtraining may appear as a reduction in performance and can be managed through taking time to rest and allowing the body to recover. However, if the body isn’t afforded sufficient rest, the risk of overtraining syndrome and subsequently longer-term side effects significantly increases.

Signs and symptoms of overtraining

  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Decreased mood
  • Poor sleep
  • Excessive muscle soreness
  • Increased illness
  • Excessive fatigue

Strategies to avoid overtraining

  • Keep an exercise diary – this will allow the monitoring of session intensity, volume and rating or perceived exertion during training.
  • Monitor resting heart rate – an increase may indicate that the body is not recovering.
  • Note the incidence of illness or infection and allow the body to rest.
  • Ensure you get adequate sleep.
  • Eat a nutrient dense, well-balanced diet & stay well hydrated.
  • Schedule rest/recovery days.
  • Monitor performance – reduce training load if performance is decreasing.

If you would like further information about safe individualised exercise advice speak with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.