It’s exciting to start a new training routine, and exercise can be addictive. Once you’re in your routine it can be hard to take time off. Generally we, as humans, have a ‘more is more’ mentality. We want more of everything, and we want fast results. This combination can lead to problems.
Overtraining happens when you are stressing your body without giving it enough time to recover. Exercise, whether resistance training or cardio, puts stress on your body. Exercise can create small tears in your tissues and stress your bones, joints and ligaments. Normally this stress is actually healthy. Stress will prompt your body to repair damage, ultimately strengthening your bones and tissue. Repairing those bones and tissues will ultimately improve your health.
If you’re a big fan of recording your data, or you regularly wear an Apple Watch, you can also keep an eye on your HRV or heart rate variability. Heart rate variability is the measurement of the difference between your heart beats. While two people may have the same heart rate at any given moment, they could have different HRVs. A higher HRV means that some heartbeats come quicker and some have longer intervals between them.
Higher heart rate variability means that your body is more adaptive. Your heart can change its rhythm to respond to what you’re doing. A lower HRV, on the other hand, shows that your body doesn’t quickly adapt to changes. Generally speaking, as you get healthier through a workout routine, your HRV will get higher and higher.
Heart rate variability changes can be indicative of overtraining. If you’re regularly tracking your HRV and notice that it decreases suddenly this can be an obvious sign of overtraining. It’s a great metric to keep an eye on fir this reason. An HRV chart can give you amazing insights into your heart health.
Resting Heart Rate Changes
Your resting heart rate is a simple metric to track that can give you a lot of insight into your heart health. Your resting heart rate is the frequency that your heart beats while your body is at rest. Generally speaking, lower resting heart rates should that your body is being efficient. Higher resting heart rates, on the other hand, can indicate that your heart is struggling to pump enough blood through your body.
Resting heart rates between about 50 BPM and 100 BPM are considered normal. It’s important to know your baseline resting heart rate so that you have the ability to measure any differences. Generally speaking, if you are becoming healthier through an exercise routine your resting heart rate should slowly drop over time. Your heart will become more efficient over time.
However, issues can arise when you see a sudden and significant change in your resting heart rate. If you see that your resting heart rate is either significantly lower or significantly higher than your baseline this could be an indication that you are training too hard and need to give your body time to recover. Any significant change in your body should be discussed with your doctor to make sure that nothing more serious is causing your heart rate changes, but if you know that you’ve been training hard and often and see changes in your resting heart rate it might be time for a rest day.
Fatigue is not uncommon for athletes. When you’re constantly pushing your body to its limits it’s inevitable to feel tired sometimes. That being said, you should be monitoring your fatigue levels over time.
If you’re finding that despite your workouts you’re struggling to find enough energy throughout the day, this is a sign. Similarly, if you find that you just can’t push yourself during your workouts, it’s time to take a long hard look at your routine.
Cumulative overtraining leads to cumulative fatigue. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’re not healed from exercise you’re likely to feel the same way you’d feel if you were healing for any other reason. Think back to the last time you had a virus. How did you feel? Chances are you felt malaise, fatigue, and sleepiness. Maybe you weren’t able to concentrate as well as usual. Maybe your workouts took a big hit. Overtraining causes the same issues. If you feel like you’re fighting off a flu, or are otherwise just generally sluggish, this could be a sign of overtraining.
Have you recently aggravated an old injury? Are you feeling more sore after your workouts than usual? This is a very common sign of overtraining.
Your body needs time to recover from the stress of exercise. When you don’t give yourself enough time between workouts your body maintains cumulative damage. While small amounts of damage from exercise if good for you, cumulative damage without time to heal is a big problem.
Injury is a problem for athletes. Not only can injury give you pain, but it can also leave you on the bench when you’d prefer to be training. This is one of the reasons that recovery is so important. If you want to become the best athlete you can be you need to make sure that you’re giving your body all of the tools and all of the time that you need to repair and get stronger.
We all know that good sleep is necessary for health. Did you know that your sleep quality can also be an indicator of health? Tracking your sleep can give you a huge amount of insight into your health. Getting quality sleep is a very good way to ensure that your body recovers properly after exercise. Exercise often also makes falling asleep easier and can be a treatment for insomnia. That can make it confusing when you suddenly find yourself suffering from insomnia.
Insomnia can have many causes. Everything from stress to illness can result in insomnia. If, however, you’ve ruled out other causes it might be worth looking into your training schedule. Have you been training heavily and often lately? When was the last time you took a rest day?
While it’s hard to link insomnia and overtraining, it could be an easy fix. Try taking a rest day and see if the situation improves. When you’re dealing with insomnia you could be doing damage to your health, so it’s worth a shot!
How do I fix it?
So, you’ve decided that you’re overtraining. You want to fix it so you’re not halting your progress, right?
Fortunately, adapting to fix overtraining is pretty easy.
Not ready to stop working out completely? It might be worth looking into taking an active rest day. Taking an active rest day helps you to keep your routine while still giving your body time to heal.
Good luck on your health and fitness journey! Strike some balance, work hard, and reap those benefits.