Fitness Articles

7 Hidden Signs of Overtraining

How to Know When to Lay Off the Exercise

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You have the blues.
Do the workouts you used to love feel more like a chore than anything else? Or do you generally feel down and unmotivated? It may seem counterintuitive since exercise has been shown to boost feel-good endorphins, but overtraining has been linked to a decrease in energy and mood. So if you have the blues, letting your muscles recover for a few days and getting really good sleep might be just what your body really needs. Of course, if you are severely depressed, see your doctor.

You're unable to sleep or you can't seem to get enough sleep.
How are you sleeping lately? Is your mind racing when your head hits the pillow? Are you unable to fall asleep no matter how many sheep you count or how tired you feel? Are you on the other end of spectrum where no matter how many hours of sleep you clock, you still feel tired? Both of these can be caused by overtraining. When you exercise too much, your body can interpret it as a stressor, sending out stress hormones like cortisol that can make going to sleep difficult. On the flip side, overtraining can actually make some people more tired than normal. Sleep is a time when the body and brain recovers, and if you're pushing it too hard, your body might be telling you that it needs more rest that you're giving it.

You have ''heavy'' legs.
You used to go out for a walk or a jog with a spring in your step! But these days? It seems as if your legs have been traded out for heavy lead; it takes a lot more effort to get going and stay going. Sound familiar? If so, overtraining may be wreaking havoc on your body. Heavy, tired and overly fatigued legs (or arms) can be caused by muscles that just haven't had enough time to fully recharge and repair.

You have a short fuse.
If the smallest things set you off or if you're feeling more irritable than normal, it could be due to over-exercising. When we're tired and worn down, it's far easier to let the little stuff get to us than it would if we were well rested. Think of exercise like spending too many hours at work on a big project for weeks at a time. Sometimes you just need a vacation and a break for some rest and relaxation!

You're regularly sore for days at a time.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • DUSTYSPARTAN
    Yeah, I know all about this, just finished a workout that wouldn't normally be that hard and left the gym totally deflated and wanting to go to bed! Time to take a week off training I think.

    http://www.cara
    llumaactivesr
    eview.info/ - 4/16/2014 1:36:25 PM
  • SAELBELLE
    Great article. The last 2 months I have had trouble getting motivated to workout, but I made myself do it. About half hour after finishing, I'd feel exhausted, yet couldn't sleep.
    I also found it wasn't helping with stress and I was short fused. I thought it was just summer holiday stress & weight gain.
    A few days ago, my body just gave up and my sciatica got inflammed and now I'm probably unable to workout for the next month. I am usually good at listening to my body and what it needs, but I ignored the signs this time and am now paying for it. - 1/19/2014 8:21:57 PM
  • This totally happened to me. It derailed months worth of work. My body got tired of fighting me and just shut down. Over doing it can really screw up your goals. - 11/13/2013 12:10:53 PM
  • Good info. Thanks - 8/28/2013 6:55:23 AM
  • Great article - 6/27/2013 9:50:07 PM
  • I have to be careful with my body. - 6/27/2013 8:51:18 PM
  • GIANT-STEPS
    I use my waking pulse rate to detect over-traiining. When my waking pulse rate is higher than normal for a few days I cut back.
    One thing I always say is that you don't get stronger from working out, you get stronger recovering from your workout. When you don't give yourself time to recover than you are shortchanging yourself. - 4/23/2013 1:53:22 PM
  • My legs hurt really bad when I overdo it. - 4/14/2013 9:30:36 PM
  • Good article.I can relate.

    I'm new to SparkPeople and relatively new to regular strenuous exercise, Yesterday, I went to my Tai Chi class,. When I came home I felt seriously energized. My inner Tazmanian Devil surfaced. I went into a cleaning frenzy. In contrast, I went to a fun Mud Run/Obstacle course a couple of weekends ago. While I did great and finished the race, afterwards, I slept 16 hours. When I awakened I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. I guess I really needed the sleep.

    Thanks. - 4/3/2013 12:21:05 PM
  • MIASTAUBIN
    Great article and not something a lot of people are aware of! I remember training a few years back and constantly being sick, and injured every other month, on again off again training, as soon as my head hit the pillow I would fall asleep within seconds, it was not good! We need to remember to listen to our bodies!
    If you feel tired, try a warm up and see how you feel after that, maybe that day is better of spent going for a walk or taking a break. Training 6-7 days a week will actually take you further away from you goal in some cases, remember less is more! ~Mia St-Aubin - 4/2/2013 9:37:08 PM
  • Pretty sure I'm affected by all of these :\ - 4/2/2013 10:11:02 AM
  • I've felt the exhaustion after a good run and have definitely had the sore muscles for days but I just thought that was a part of the whole "no pain, no gain" philosophy. Having said all that though, I do not exercise everyday - five to six days a week - yes but not everyday. So I really don't think I'm over-exercising. - 2/25/2013 2:00:13 PM
  • I felt this way while doing the Insanity work out. I looked great but I was so crabby and sleepy.
    Thanks for the information.

    ~Meme - 12/3/2012 9:01:06 AM
  • This is an interesting article! I could see it easily turning into excuses. :)

    For me, I have a tendency to get really sick right when I get to what I think is a great fitness level. Right now I have bronchitis and it's a rather nasty case. The only cure is complete rest because it's self-perpetuating and the slightest strain inhibits recovery.

    I wonder if it became this bad because I continued exercising when I had a cold, if the cold was due to exhausting myself or due to the guy behind me who coughed through the whole workout session, or just bad luck.

    Someone else said there's a fine line between overtraining and not enough and it's really easy to find excuses not to exercise. - 11/29/2012 1:39:41 PM
  • I've felt the heavy legs and bored from over exercising. So true that rest can do the body good! - 11/29/2012 4:28:01 AM
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