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

  • LACIEBYTE
    One sign not mentioned - and one I would never have thought possible - is getting bruises on the outside of your body from over-working muscles. At least that is what I believe happened after I had to miss my weekly Pilates class for nearly 3 months and then went back. My abs/obliques were so sore for the next few days... but then I noticed I had large black and blue marks in that area near the bottom of my ribs on both sides. Has anyone else ever experience this? - 5/3/2016 11:01:16 PM
  • This article is just what I needed this morning as I drug myself out of bed. I felt guilty because I just couldn't summon enough energy to take my morning walk. Now I know my body is telling me I need a break so I don't have any reason to feel guilty. I can get back to it when my body feels energy again. Sometimes I have a tendency to just keep pushing my body even though it says no. - 5/3/2016 11:18:02 AM
  • I've noticed when I have overtrained, I feel listless. I discovered an app for the iPhone that tracks heart rate variability and makes a recommendation on whether the user should consider reducing training load that day.

    Each morning, I use the app to take a measurement. After 4 days, a baseline is calculated. The baseline adjusts with additional measurements.

    I am just a user, not affiliated with the folks who own the app. If you're looking for help, the app is HRV4Training. I don't understand the science behind it. I can say that the days I feel weary, the app usually suggests a lighter workout or rest day.

    The app could be handy for those who are data junkies. - 4/24/2016 4:08:15 PM
  • Wow...is that why my legs were super heavy on the track. They just had ENOUGH! I better take a rest. Whoaa - 1/12/2016 6:54:35 PM
  • thanks for the article ill take today off. see if that will help - 7/30/2015 10:40:05 PM
  • QUICKEASYFIT
    Hey Jennipher, we love this article! We just wrote a similar one on overtraining and would love if you checked it out. You can find the article here: http://www.quicke
    asyfit.com/am
    -i-overtraini
    ng-signs-of-o
    vertraining-a
    nd-how-to-recover/ - 6/17/2015 9:54:21 PM
  • 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

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