exhausted man has stopped to take a break on a warm sunny day

Are you overtraining?

Are you overtraining?


Are you overtraining? Overtraining isn’t a myth. It can happen when you exercise regularly without allowing enough recovery time between sessions. Too much exercise can be damaging to your health and hinder your results, particularly if you workout everday / most days.

tired sportsman drinking water in sports hall

OTS – Over Training Syndrome can result in injury, reduce performance and negatively impact your fitness levels. Any intense exercise such as resistance training, high intensity training and long distance cardio can all lead to burnout. It’s also typical in athletes who take part in sports, such as football, rugby, basketball, swimming etc.

Prevent overtraining by taking enough recovery time between sessions, eating adequate and nutritious foods and by learning to interpret tiredness feeling your body and mind can present. Such as continual lethargy, headaches, dizziness, breathlessness etc.

This article highlights some of the signs, symptoms and preventative measure you can take to avoid OTS.

1. Poor Nutrition

Cutting calories is common amongst people who exercise in order reach a particular goal. Doing so for extended periods of time can have a negative affect health and performance. Instances can arise where your body consistently draws on its energy reserves (body fat, and glycogen levels), which can result in nutritional deficiencies such as anaemia (low iron). In this example people may experience fatigue, dizziness, breathlessness, heart arrhythmia and blurred vision.

More serious conditions can arise that affect your gastrointestinal, endocrine and cardiovascular systems . Your reproductive and nervous system can also be affected in wigs you may experience complications such as irregular period cycles or loss of period completely. From a mental health perspective your risk of developing eating disorders is significantly increased also. Also increasing the chances you may develop depression, anxiety and mood swings.

2. Injuries

Exercising to your limits can be beneficial but you walk a fine line where too hard for too long can incur injury. Typically associated injuries from training too hard include: muscle tears, ligament and tendon damage, micro fractures (in bones), micro tears (in muscles), aches and pains.

3. Repetitive Use Injuries

Exercise and sports that are high impact and / or longer in duration like running, rugby, football, netball etc can  result in  injuries such as muscle tears, fractures, ligament damage, shin splints, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis. Aches pains and general “niggles” are common if you’re active to prevent serious injury, take a break from all types of exercise to allow your body to repair and heal. Or at a minimum work with a fitness coach who may be able to adapt your training accordingly.

4. Lethargy

 Feeling tired and being fatigued are two different states. Feeling tired can result from a tough workout, lack of sleep, busy day or low on fuel. You can usually recover from feeling tired by taking a nap, eating some food, drinking water or having a few hours rest. Being fatigued is more intense and lasts longer. Often you feel languid, lethargic and weak. Fatigue can result following one of, or a combination of the following poor nutrition, inadequate hydration, high intensity exercise, prolonged steady exercise and exercising everyday.

5. Lower Appetite & Weight Loss

Often exercise increase appetite in the hours / days after. This is healthy and with adequate and suitable nutrition hunger levels should reduce. Exercising too often can cause hormonal imbalances that can impact how hungry or full you feel. Ghrelin and leptin levels particularly can be affected, that may leave you feeling less hungry than your body requires. OTS has an adverse effect on you appetite leaving you feel like you can’t be bothered to eat. Overtime this may result in unplanned weight loss.

6. Moodiness 

Exercising too much may affect stress hormone levels such as an increase in cortisol, which can result in depression, confusion, and mood changes. You may also experience restlessness, poor concentration and sleeping difficulties.

7. Reoccurring Injuries

Or long lasting muscle pain. DOMS (delayed onset muscles soreness) are common following intense exercise. These muscular aches can be intense bitty should only really last around 3 days. Any longer than this could be an indication that you’ve overtrained.

Injuries that also take a longer than expected to heal may also be due to inadequate rest from exercise and exertion.
Sufficient recovery between workouts is essential affective healing and growth.

8. Reduced Performance

Most of us exercise to improve perforce or feel good. Overtraining can have the advert affect. Resulting in reduced performance and feeling run down. Typically you may experience a decline in strength, endurance, agility and power. With a lesser ability reaching your goals become much harder.

9. Workouts Seem Extra Demanding

Over Training Syndrome as we’ve already learned often results in fatigue, reduced ability and an increase risk. If you have OTS you may feel like your trying your hardest during sessions but your perforce data could be way off your best. 

It’s possible you may also be suffering fro anaemia which affects your energy levels. This can result in higher than normal heart rates and a reduced ability for your heart rate to stabilise after physical activity.

10. Sleeping Difficulties 

OTS can impact your ability to get to sleep and reduce sleeping quality, this study confirms. Largely because its may impact your stress hormones as previously mentioned. Should you be experiencing sleep difficulties perhaps taking full rest from exercise for up to 14 days may help. 

Sleep disturbances can impact many daily functions. Prolonged issues can significantly impact your health and make it harder for you to return to optimal daily functioning.

11. Lowered Immune System

Studies have found that OTS can increase illness and reduce your immune system. Becoming repeatedly poorly with coughs, cold and flu like symptoms may be down to overtraining and the inability to recover and fight off infections. This can particularly up the likelihood you contract upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs).

12. Gaining Weight

Exercising too much without resting enough can lead to lower testosterone levels and higher levels of cortisol. This combination of hormonal changes can increase the chances of losing of muscle and gaining weight.

13. Demotivated

Motivation can certainly plummet if you’re experiencing OTS. Feeling tired and run down can make it harder to enjoy exercise. Forcing yourself to train may result in long term disengagement from exercise which can be detrimental to progress, goal attainment, physical and mental health. 

Sometimes less is more. If you become disinterested or uninspired by exercising, taking a break and doing something different can help to reignite your passion to workout.


This may mean longer rest times for some than others. Essentially rest until you start to feel yourself again. This may be anything from a few days to a few weeks. Once you return to training do so slowly. Incrementally increasing the intensity, duration and frequency to which you exercise. Balance is key. Adequate rest allows your physical and mental health to improve. Resting doesn’t have you mean you do nothing. Rather listen to your body and respond accordingly. Perhaps look for enjoyment in creative task that require little energy. Just until you feel your body and mind once again feel capable of the demands you put it under. Too much of anything can be harmful. Exercise is no exception.


Individual recovery times will vary. Resting completely usually results in full body and mind recover after around 2 weeks. That said its not uncommon for physical injuries to months to fully heal.
During recovery time stay active, but train smart and listen to you body. Avoid problematic areas and return to resting should you experience signs of OTS again.


To prevent OTS, schedule regular rest days after long or demanding workouts. Take a break from targeting a muscle group for 1 or 2 days if you do weight or resistance training. At the same time, don’t allow for too much time to lapse between workout sessions.
Have a rest period during your workout. Rest intervals can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. If needed, reduce the volume and intensity of your sessions.
Schedule active rest days that include low impact activities such as walking, yoga, or swimming. This will relieve muscle tightness and help you stay active while recovering from a strenuous workout. Plus, varying your activities helps develop your whole body.
To balance your stress levels, you can also do relaxing activities such as meditation or yoga.
Get enough calories to sustain your workout by eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of carbs, protein, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

GP or Specialist Referral

Contact your GP, physiotherapist or similar specialists if you have persistent injuries that do not self heal over time. muscle soreness should last no longer than 24-72 hours, seek medical advice should you experience muscle pain for longer. Work with your fitness coach who will be able to optimise your training regime around problematic areas whilst maintaining as much strength an conditioning as possible.

If you need help with you fitness programming or nutrition get in touch with us here. Or you can browse and subscribe to one of online programmes. These all include personal coaching with me directly. 

I hope this article has helped. Remember to get your rest!


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