If you workout with any seriousness, you know that the measuring the tension between over-training and under-training is a perpetual balancing act.
If you’re an athlete or a serious exerciser, you may find yourself asking ‘Am I working out too much or too little?’
However, if you’re over-training or under-training, you are likely not performing at your optimum level or maybe even moving backward and risking injury.
Here’s a brief post outlining how to spot both ends of the spectrum and keep yourself on track.
Signs Of Over-training
There are several signs to watch for during your training. The effects of over-training range from mild to severe depending on how long you have been in an over-trained state.
The more serious symptoms on this list can take you out of the gym for prolonged periods which will greatly reduce any gains you may have made.
These may include:
Prolonged or persistent muscle soreness
Elevated heart rate
Increased susceptibility to illness or infection
Increased occurrence of injuries
Loss of motivation
If a few of these conditions are true for you, you may be over-training.
This video by Elliott Hulse explains a simple test you can do to find out if you may be training too much.
Ways To Avoid Over-training
You can save yourself a lot of trouble by putting together a solid fitness plan. It may take some time, but is well worth the effort.
Building a safe and effective training schedule will go along way to helping you avoid not only over-training, but injury and plateaus.
Here are some simple objectives to keep in mind when building your fitness schedule:
Set clear goals – What do you want to achieve? Do you have a deadline? Why is this goal important to you?
Make an adjustable schedule – Plans almost always change. Leave a bit of flexibility in your schedule to accommodate for changes.Alternate muscle groups – Leave a 1-2 day gap between muscle groups to leave time for them to rest and recover. That’s where muscles actually get built.
Alternate muscle groups – Leave a 1-2 day gap between muscle groups to leave time for them to rest and recover. That’s where muscles actually get built.
Include different types of exercises – You ever hear that “variety is the spice of life”? It applies to the gym too. In your plan, make minor tweaks every 2-4 weeks.
Stretch – This is a simple trick that lots of people still avoid. Stretching will help open up your ROM (range of motion). Dynamic stretching can be done before and after your workouts. Save static stretching for after your workouts. Static stretching before a weight program may actually reduce your strength.
Steps To Take If You Are Over-training
If you are in an over-trained state, this is not something that happened overnight. Maybe you trained hard for several weeks without rest or with a poor diet. Over-training is nothing to be taken lightly as some of the symptoms can be quite serious.
Take a step back and re-assess your goals. Get some rest. Serious rest. Not a day or two, more like a few months.
If you’re bored at the gym, there’s a problem. If you have time to talk on your phone or check your Instagram while you workout (I’ve actually seen this!), you probably aren’t giving it your all.
There are four areas you must carefully monitor to prevent undertraining:
Consistency – How often are you training?
Intensity – Most equate intensity with weight or load. You can also affect intensity by changing the tempo, style (straight set, supersets, pyramid setc, etc.), stance and many other ways. If you’re relatively sweat-free after a workout session, it probably lacked intensity.
Frequency – Similar to consistency. How many times a week are you working out?
Progression – You’ve got a problem if you notice that the intensity of your workouts is decreasing. Your program should be challenging and somewhat mentally taxing. Again, you should make small changes in your routine every 2-4 weeks.
Watch to this video by Jeff Cavliere of ATHLEAN-X to find out if you are under-training.
Developing a good workout plan will help to avoid most over-training and under-training situations.
When outlining your plan, you should examine intensity and how you can develop more challenging workouts over time. Working within the constraints of a periodized plan will address some of the problem areas.
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