You can have too much of a good thing. While there’s nothing better than smashing out a gym session and kicking your fitness goals, it’s important to also incorporate rest and recovery into your fitness routine, and prevent overtraining.
Overtraining can look and feel like many things, including trouble sleeping, moodiness, excessive muscle soreness, difficulty concentrating, lacking motivation, changes in appetite, regular injury (or illness), fatigue and even an abnormal heart rate.
These are warning signs that it’s time to consider slowing down. When you’re overtraining, chances are you’ll see your results slow or even plateau, and your performance will drop too. So don’t just “push through the pain”, it’s time to reassess!
To prevent you getting to this point, here are 5 easy ways to prevent overtraining.
This is the easiest way of all when it comes to preventing overtraining. Your body is a very smart machine, and it sends you so many messages each day - if you choose to listen to it! By tuning into how your body is feeling each day, you can adapt your workout routine to fit what your body needs most, actually supporting better performance and results at the same time.
If you’re feeling lethargic and tired one day, opt for an energising and calm yoga flow. Or, if you’re feeling like you’ve got copious amounts of energy and you’re completely restless, sweat it out in a HIIT session instead.
Similarly, checking in with your body for twinges and pains will help you avoid injury - you’ll be able to pull back on exercises that aren’t serving you, and push yourself harder when you can feel you have more to give.
People often ask if you should train when you’re sick, and again the answer here is: listen to your body. It’s telling you it needs some time out - so give it exactly that!
Aim to schedule at least 1-2 rest days into your fitness routine every week. This is so important for preventing overtraining, but will actually help you see better results at the same time - contrary to what you might think!
When you train, you create tiny micro tears in your muscles. The process of your body repairing these tears is what actually helps you get stronger. So if you’re not giving your body enough time to rest and repair, then it can’t get stronger, can it?
Rest days are essential for repair and recovery, building strength, and also boosting your performance on the days you do workout - you’ll find you have more energy, endurance and stamina after adding some rest into your routine!
Adding different types of training into your routine is also great for helping avoid overtraining. Incorporating a mix of lower and higher intensity workouts, and targeting a range of body parts, will make sure you don’t overwork any one part of your body.
If you train legs on a Monday, how about switching to chest on a Tuesday? If you do HIIT on a Wednesday, consider a Pilates class on a Thursday.
We have so many class options for you to choose from, there’s no excuse not to add a wide variety into your fitness regime!
Even better, throw some active recovery protocols into your routine. Along with daily stretching, try and add some remedial sports massages, infrared saunas, foam rolling, or other recovery practices that work for you. These will support your natural recovery processes, making your body better prepped for your workouts, and helping you avoid overtraining. Double win!
Nutrition is a key part of your health routine. When you train more, you need to eat more to give your body enough energy to perform in your sessions, and recover afterwards.
And we don’t mean eating more of just anything… It’s important to fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods including complex carbohydrates (think whole grains, sweet potato, vegetables), protein (chicken, fish, meat, legumes), healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado) and plenty of fibre (found in your wholegrains, fruit and veg). These will give you plenty of energy for your training, and help you achieve your goals in the gym.
If you’re not eating enough, or the right foods, your training will suffer and so will your body. This is a one-way ticket to overtraining and fatigue.
So aim to give your body all the nourishment and energy it needs - and don’t forget to hydrate while you’re at it!
Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep each night is super important for avoiding overtraining. Sleep allows your body the rest and repair it craves after a big workout, and gives you the energy to go again the next day. The more intense your workouts are, the more sleep you need to let your body recover.
If you’re not getting adequate, good-quality sleep, you’ll struggle more with overtraining, injury and illness. So hit the snooze button and catch your zzzs every single night!
While it’s normal and even good to feel sore or tired after a workout, if you’re feeling super exhausted and lacking motivation for days after a session, chances are you’re pushing yourself too hard. Listen to your body - it’s your home, it will tell you what it needs!
Overtraining won’t enhance your results, it will hinder them - so take the necessary steps to avoid it at all costs!