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Know When You're Overtraining

Updated on April 20, 2016

Is it Possible to Train Too Much?

It most certainly is!!!

Over-training is your worst enemy in the gym. In its most extreme form, over-training can be worse than not training at all. When the body is pushed far enough beyond it's capability to properly recover, you may actually be causing damage, in some cases, lasting damage, to your muscles, joints and bones.

There are two ways that you could be over-training.

The first is that you simply do too much or have built your regime up way too fast, and your body simply can't cope.

The second way you can over-train is by never giving yourself any time out. You've been hitting the gym four or five times a week for years and you've never taken a step back.

If you combine these two mistakes you are in real trouble!

What can you do if you are over-training?

Well, the answer won't be a welcome one. You have to stay away from the gym! That's right, no lifting, no running, nothing at all but rest. I know, just at the mere thought of not training, you can feel yourself getting soft, you can see them gains disappearing, them PB's dropping.... well, that's all in your head.

You need a week out, or even two if you've really pushed yourself into the red. So kick back, use your gym membership for the jacuzzi only, pile in the good food, and let your body totally recover.

Read on to find out if you could be over-training.....

Signs of Over-Training

There are many signs of over-training, most of them are glaringly obvious, but there's a good chance that you may be ignoring them.


Often the first sign of over-training is feeling more tired than usual, especially first thing in the morning. This is a sure sign that your body is finding things hard.

Do you feel more tired than usual?

Do you wake up feeling tired?

Are you falling asleep a lot?

Are you struggling through your day?

Are you finding it hard to motivate yourself to train?

If the answer is yes to any of the questions above, you probably need to kick back for a bit. Your body is trying to tell you something. Remember that there are other factors in your life that may be adding to the tiredness.... work.... stress... climate. Listen to your body you won't regret it.



Feeling more of the DOMs after training could be a sign of over-training... of course it could just be a sign that you really gave yourself what for... but if it persists, you should really think about taking notice of it. While it's normal to be a little achy, feeling like a bus has hit you is a sure sign of excessive tissue damage.


Is it taking you longer to get over your training sessions than normal? Are your legs still really sore 3 or 4 days later? This is a sure-fire sign that your body is struggling to recover and rebuild itself. Your body is sending the whole workforce into the damaged area and they're falling short of their target. There's no point pushing it any further, it's rest time!


When your body is really feeling the strain, it will often be your weakest points that show signs first. Your lower back is an area that can really struggle when your at a low ebb. If you're getting persistent aches, pains and tenderness in the area, you may well be over-training. Take some time off, if only for your back to recover.


Persistent pains in the joints, particularly the elbows and knees can be a tell-tale sign of working too hard. These are often deep pains that are hard to pinpoint, and are a late warning sign that injury is lurking around the corner. Rest up before you end up with tendinitis, or worse!



That got your attention didn't it!

If you're experiencing a drop in strength, stamina, power, agility..... that can't be explained, you are probably deep into the over-training zone. This is a sign that your muscles are not receiving, storing or using energy to their full capability, or even that you're losing gains. You are literally going backwards!

Stop training now! Take time out and come back to hit it fresh in a week or two!


If your urine is much darker than normal, or even cloudy, this could be a sign that your body is struggling to recover and rehydrate. This is an indication that your kidneys are feeling the pressure. Take some time off and get plenty of fluids in. If you continue you may even cause lasting kidney damage!



Look out for other symptoms of over-training, such as worsening of any pre-existing conditions, like eczema.

Bags under the eyes are always a good sign that you're over tired, as are signs of vitamin deficiencies, such as pale skin, brittle nails, and cracks at the corners of your mouth.

A drop in libido can also indicate that your blood chemistry is way out of whack, the same goes for if you have any problem 'performing'


The Remedy

As mentioned before, the only way to recover from over-training is rest. Take a week or two off from the gym. Take longer if you are seriously over-trained. Just listen to your body.

Do some yoga, do anything that chills you out.

Get massages to help unwind any tension.

Get plenty of sleep and eat well. Don't use the rest period to get lazy with your nutrition. Your body is crying out for help, give it the building blocks it needs..... but maybe throw in the odd extra dessert.

Then get back into the gym and you will find renewed vigour! You will almost certainly find that you will make some good strength and muscle gains in the first few weeks that you're back lifting.

Still not convinced??..... Well, six time Mr Olympia, and possibly the greatest bodybuilder that ever lived, used to take breaks from the gym all the time. He knew that his body needed rest.

Hit the gym with intensity.... hit some intense rest also. Listen to your body! You may be doing more harm than good......

Dorian Yates on Over-Training

How often do you take at least a week out from the gym (by choice)?

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