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Overtraining

Topic Overview

People who are very physically active sometimes cross the line between sufficient training and too much training. Overtraining usually occurs when the body does not have enough time to recover from the stress of intense training.

Signs of overtraining include the following:

  • You constantly feel tired or listless.
  • You cannot make further fitness gains or you actually move backward in your level of fitness.
  • You suddenly lose weight.
  • Your resting heart rate increases 5 beats per minute.
  • You have lost your enthusiasm for exercising.
  • You feel irritable, angry, or depressed.

Treatment for overtraining requires that you cut back on training or stop altogether for 1 to 2 weeks. In extreme cases, a month or more of rest may be needed. It can be very difficult for a person for whom training is a way of life to believe that they have overtrained and need rest. It is more effective to prevent overtraining in the first place.

To prevent overtraining:

  • Try to recognize when your body has reached its own training limits and allow yourself recovery time. Overtraining isn't just "overdoing it." It is a pattern of overdoing it too many times.
  • Follow guidelines for training schedules as they apply to your kind of activity. To get ideas on training for your activity, talk to an athletic trainer or coach.
  • Share your training schedule with others who train at your level or with a specialized coach or trainer. Ask them if it looks reasonable.
  • If a coach expects you to follow a training schedule that is not realistic for you, talk to your coach about your concerns. Your coach should want your best performance, and that can't happen if you overtrain.
  • If you find yourself thinking about your training all the time or becoming obsessive about it, take a short break from your schedule. If you don't want to stop all activity, try cross-training or take up some new physical activity for a few days or weeks.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
Last Revised September 26, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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