The symptoms of overtraining in bodybuilding are quite obvious and can ruin your workouts. Do you spend hours at the gym without getting any significant results? Are you constantly feeling tired and sluggish? Then you might be overtraining.
This concept defines a basic imbalance between recovery and work. In other words, your body doesn’t have enough time and energy to recover after intense workouts. This happens because you train too hard and too often, eat a poor diet, or both.
What Causes Overtraining?
When you’re overtraining, your body is not able to repair muscle tissue properly. As a result, you lose muscle instead of bulking up. Overtraining affects bodybuilders and sports enthusiasts of all skills levels.
Many highly motivated athletes are afraid to rest and want to reach their maximum performance, so they work out harder and harder every day. You might say: “Ok, but this means they take their workout seriously. It’s nothing wrong with that.” Not really. Putting too much pressure on yourself can be detrimental to your fitness goals.
The main causes of overtraining are sudden increases in the frequency, duration, or intensity of workout sessions without proper rest time. Overtraining symptoms are often the result of poor recovery and bad diet. If you train hard but your diet sucks, you’ll lose muscle. This will make you feel tired, fatigued, and nervous.
To prevent overtraining, remember how muscle growth occurs. When you lift weights, your muscle fibers break. Hypertrophy or muscle growth occurs while you’re resting. Proper sleep and nutrition are essential to get bigger and stronger. Forced repetitions, supersets, eccentric training, drop sets and other training methods promote hypertrophy.
If you train too hard without getting enough food and sleep, your muscles won’t grow.
That’s why it is recommended to train each body part only once a week. Do three sets per exercise with two exercises for smaller muscle groups and three exercises for larger ones. If you follow these basic principles, you can successfully prevent overtraining syndrome. Let’s recap:
- Small muscle groups – 2 exercises per group/ 3-4 sets each
- Bigger muscle groups – 3 exercises per group/ 3-4 sets each
- Work out one muscle group per day/ two smaller muscle groups per day/ a big muscle group + a smaller one on the same day
Common Signs of Overtraining
Overtraining causes mental and physical symptoms. It affects the immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous, musculoskeletal, and hormonal systems. Basically, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. It’s enough to pull the trigger. Let’s take a look at the most common signs of overtraining:
• Chronic fatigue
• High blood pressure
• Elevated resting heart rate
• Muscle soreness
• Poor performance
• Decreased strength and coordination
• Lack of appetite
• Recurring cold or sickness
• Overly sore joints
• Sleep disturbances
• Weight loss
• Mood swings
• Decreased immune system
• Loss of competitive drive
• Irritability and depression
• Slow recovery after exercise
• Decreased maximal power output
• High risk of injuries and infection
Statistics show that 10 to 20 percent of athletes who work out too much or too hard experience overtraining symptoms. This can increase the risk of illness or injury, affect physical performance, and cause excessive fatigue/lethargy. Increasing training volume and intensity is a good thing. It’s actually one of the best ways to overcome plateaus in bodybuilding and weight loss.
Overtraining symptoms occur when either training intensity or volume is excessive for too long. High volumes of endurance training, daily intense weightlifting, inadequate recovery between workouts, and poor nutrition will eventually cause overtraining.
Most athletes experience fatigue when they are overtrained. They may also become moody and depressed, lose their enthusiasm for the sport, and complain about muscular soreness. These are the most common signs of overtraining. Muscle loss occurs as a result of increased cortisol levels. Recent studies have found that overtraining lowers testosterone levels while raising the production of stress hormones (cortisol).
How to Recover from Overtraining Fast
Good nutrition and proper rest can help you recover from overtraining. The rest period following your workouts is a key process that takes at least 36 hours to complete. If you don’t get enough rest, you’ll lose muscle size and strength.
Reducing exercise volume and intensity for a few days can also help. Try to sleep more and relax. Make sure your daily calorie intake matches expenditure. Eat foods rich in protein, complex carbs, amino acids, and healthy fats. BCAAs and glutamine can help you recover from overtraining fast.