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Monday, July 21, 2008

Are You Overtraining?

Alright, kids, it's time to fess up. I may be on my way to overtraining once again, if I am not already there.

Eager to see even more results, I was ready this morning to step it up with doubles. But, wait, at what cost? The last two times I overtrained--right around the 60-day mark of my previous rounds of P90X--I was out of commission for more than a week. I vowed to not walk down that path again, but, um, I find myself down a very familiar road: I am starting to feel tired, cranky, and am experiencing a loss of appetite. You know there's something wrong when I have to remind myself to eat!

It's time to help myself and help others along the way who may be in a similar situation. I'm turning to the experts for words of wisdom vis a vis overtraining. Normally, I hate to admit it, but I tend to ignore the signs (and warnings from friends) of overtraining. I'm making a commitment right now to listen up and follow through.

Ugh...I really hate being so "wise" sometimes, but I know my body will thank me later.

Bring it!

Barbie, PhD

The following article was taken from


If you think that spending more time in the gym will give you better overall results, think again. Excessive exercising can quickly lead to overtraining, an imbalance between training and recovery. It is common to want to push harder to meet your fitness goals. But be sure that you are doing it correctly. For e.g. lifting heavier weight or adding 15 minutes to your cardio workout, is okay as long as you balance the extra effort with ample rest. Listen to your body.

A common sign of overtraining is lack of motivation. Rather than looking forward to your workouts, you may find it difficult to go to the gym. Other signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle soreness
  • Stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression
  • Decreased aerobic and strength training performances
  • Injury

If you are overtraining, it's best to take some time off. Most avid exercisers are afraid to skip a few days, because they think their performance will decrease, and they will either gain weight or lose muscle mass. But lifting weights everyday won't make you stronger. That is because with strength training, during the workout your muscles actually develop micro tears and it takes them 48 - 72 hours to repair themselves and recover and grow.

Preventing Overtraining In The Gym

Always try to keep your fitness routine at an enjoyable level. When you enjoy your exercise, you will be consistent and benefits will follow. Don't be in a hurry to see results. If it's taken you years to gain weight don't expect to lose it in months. Pushing yourself harder in the gym will only lead to burnout and injury. Weight loss or mass gain will happen in time, which will vary from one person to another. Take your time, and enjoy what you do. Add plenty of cardio variety. Balance your strength training sessions with cardio sessions on the stationary bike, treadmill or the elliptical trainer.

Reduce the volume of your weight workouts. Shorten the amount of time you spend at the gym. That does not mean that you can't vary the intensity while you're there. Variate using more repetitions one week, dropping the weight another week, resting less the next week, so it's never the same. This way you don't have to increase the time or the length of your workout. Whatever change in intensity you make sure you balance it accordingly with ample rest.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO REST. Rest allows your body, a chance to self-heal, and thereby recover. Proper periodization of your workout is essential. Don't try to do everything everyday, but plan to split your routine according to what is best for you.

It is a common misconception that the fitter you get, the less the time you need to rest. Actually, as your workout gets more advanced, the longer you may need to recover. So set your balance accordingly. Rest combined with proper nutrition and at least 8 hours of sleep per day is an essential guide to recovery. Therapies like massage, etc. can help speed recovery.

Recognizing the signs of overtraining is important. Nothing is insignificant and should not be allowed to go noticed, particularly depression, which can be treated with timely help. 90% of what you can achieve is all in the mind. So don't be afraid to just chill a while and then roar back into your training.

For any questions or comments on this article contact Neesha Maria at


Elizabeth said...

Even "MACHINES" have some down time... they need "repair" so don't forget to "repair" your body with food and the things it needs like REST AND SLEEP!!! There is plenty of time to be a MACHINE later! promise! :)

oryp said...

funny... i get the same symptoms when i'm undertraining!

Coach Barbie said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. YES, even machines need repair! I love that!

KAREN: you kill me!

skanner said...

nice barbie!

i wanted to know about over training, now i know :)