Overtraining can have a variety of negative effects. Many times overtraining starts as very slow and subtle changes that you make during a training program that compound quickly, but there are great ways to track your daily activities and statistics-whether on paper or with an app or smartwatch-to prevent overtraining.
Before we take a look at the 8 ways to prevent overtraining, let’s first establish the symptoms and potential injuries that can occur. Perhaps you may start to observe changes in your sleep, mood, appetite, heart rate, or amount of energy. Other symptoms of overtraining that may manifest, which cover a range of different issues, include:
- Excessive muscle soreness
- Loss of mental focus
- Loss of motivation
- Frequent injury or illness
- Hormonal disturbances
- Immune disturbances
- Muscle tension
- Unintended weight loss
Injuries from Overtraining
Overtraining may contribute directly to any of the following injuries:
- Pulled muscles
- Rotator cuff damage
- Nerve damage
- Bone stress
Long Term Effects
These issues may require medical interventions, including surgeries, physical therapy, etc. If left unchecked, severe effects long term could interfere with your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing:
- Abnormal sense perceptions
- Increased injuries
- Long term insomnia
- Long term muscle soreness
- Muscle or joint degeneration
Here are Our 8 Best Ways to Prevent Overtraining in the Gym:
Take care of yourself properly during activity and in recovery
Stretching, ice, rest, elevation, massage, and wearing knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, and compression socks when appropriate are all good self-care strategies. Consider muscle rolling at home or on the go to help with muscle knots and tension. Practice a cool-down period to give your heart and muscles a good recovery session.
Find supplemental ways to manage stress
While exercise can be a great way to deal with stress, one of the most common underlying reasons that lead to overtraining is trying to “get it all out” during your workout. If you find yourself overtraining to try to get out such stress from work, family, etc. - then incorporate additional ways to help deal with stress that will supplement a healthy level of physical training. This way, you can enjoy your workouts rather than having a rage-fest in the gym. Research mindfulness and meditation, explore new outdoor hobbies such as biking, kayaking, or trail running. There is an endless list of activities that are very therapeutic! Find what works best for you.
Ensure that you get medical attention regularly
Go for a routine physical and a blood test every six months. Schedule to see specialists or physical therapists when necessary and don’t put off care when you begin to see a problem initially.
Take a day off, or two!
Rest regularly from your physical training program. That is, take a day off from heavy workouts at least once each week or once every three days if necessary. Some heavy lifters even go with a one-day-on, one-day-off schedule, and that is completely sustainable and can still get you the gains you are looking for. You can still do something light on your rest days - this is referred to as active rest and may include a casual jog, a bike ride, a swim, even a long walk or something to that effect. Also, track your sleep quantity and quality with a fitness watch and be sure to stick to a sleep routine of going to bed at the same time every night and planning accordingly to get 7-9 hours of sleep.
Switch it up
Over time, vary what you do and how you do it. Another form of rest is to vary your routine so that you are not working the same areas all the time; in the short term, this will allow you to continually train for multiple days in a row. In terms of long-range planning, this will allow you to achieve the most comprehensive gains possible. Besides varying your routines and activities, you can vary your intensity as well.
Monitor your heart rate during activity and rest and note any changes
Changes in heart rate will happen, obviously. Maybe your resting heart rate is 65bpm and you average 115bpm during your usual strength training routine. But watch out for sudden, drastic changes in heart rate - this could be a sign you are overworking your cardiovascular system or that you may even have a cardiovascular issue. If you notice drastic changes in heart rate, you should seek medical attention.
Have a plan
Keep a training diary or log to document your training activity accurately. But most importantly, have a plan. We bolded that first part and capitalized it because it is probably the most important piece in this article - doing your research and planning properly in advance is the best way to avoid overtraining. Set goals at a reasonable pace. Set your limits ahead of time so that you don’t go too far. Follow your own plan – not necessarily the same as that of another’s. Don’t be afraid to tweak your plan if you find you need to.
Consider your intake
Eat enough of what you need, including carbohydrates, to give you the energy you need to endure. Ensuring you stay hydrated is vital to preventing fatigue and overtraining issues. Eating healthy ensures you are getting all of the nutrients needed to replenish fatigued muscles. Consider what supplements and vitamins may be useful in order to be your best, but be sure to consult with a physician before starting any supplement or vitamin - don’t overdo it!
If you find you are at risk of overtraining or are finding yourself currently experiencing symptoms of overtraining, create a plan to prevent further overtraining. Consider wearing knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, and compression socks to help with the prevention of injuries, and to provide support and increased blood flow to high-risk areas. Physix Gear Sport is the best choice for affordable recovery and pain relief gear and has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so there is no risk - simply send it back for a full refund if something doesn’t work for you.