There is a constant debate about the belief in which overtraining is real or simply a myth. The truth in the matter, is that there is such thing as overtraining and its far from what we believe it is. When we train in the gym or exercise, the first thing that occurs is that we are breaking down and destroying muscle tissue or fibers. In this process, our body will go into a recovery stage for the muscles that have been broken down. During the recovery process, our body will feed our fibers with proper nutrients of not only protein, but sugar and carbohydrates as well as many other nutrients. The reason for this is to help our muscles repair themselves, and the only way for muscles to repair themselves, is while they are in a recovery period or state. If you are constantly working out the same muscle fibers, chances are that you aren’t allowing your body an adequate amount of time to fully allow the muscle fibers to recover.
Assess Your Soreness Level
The first steps to take to find out if you are possibly overtraining, is to figure out how sore you are feeling after your workouts. If you are a little sore, this is normal and it’s not a sign of overtraining. Muscle tissues will become sore after most workouts and will heal in the recovery stage within 24-48 hours usually. However, if you work out and the next few days following the workout you feel that your muscles are constantly in pain and aching, chances are that you are putting your body under too much strain. If this is the case, it can lead to further issues such as increased muscle pain, joint pain around the worked muscle groups, and even being left restless and more tired compared to normal. If this happens, it is best to take a few days off of the gym to help recover fully.
Difference Between Sore and Overtraining
Although many people will work out hard and be left feeling exhausted, and the next day will have aching muscle groups, which may be extremely sore, this isn’t always a sign of overtraining. Diagnosing a sore body part as a torn muscle fiber when it is in fact just sore can be a common mistake most people make. If you have worked out hard you should be feeling it the next day. If you’ve trained chest and the next day your pecs don’t feel sore at all then chances are you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough to bring about growth. This may be due to lifting a weight well within your means, meaning you find it easy, or not doing enough reps, so you remain within your comfort zone. To gain muscle you must push yourself during your training and this will result in soreness the next day.
However, if for any reason you do feel like you are overtraining and need more time to recover, the first thing I recommend is making sure you’re feeding your body with the right nutrients and the right quantity of nutrients, as well as keeping yourself hydrated. Sometimes lacking a sufficient amount of water can lead to muscle cramps and spasms which can potentially create an increase in muscle soreness.
As I’m sure you all know by now protein is incredibly important for muscle growth and repair. If you are training regularly you should be looking to consume about 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. So if you’re 180 pounds and your training regularly you should be looking to consume anywhere between 90 to 144 grams of protein a day. This will help your body’s muscles to recover and repair. Eating over the necessary amount of protein will not benefit your body, as you can only digest a certain amount of protein, so consuming more will just be a waste of time and money.
It is also recommended that you make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If you are averaging around 4-6 hours of sleep, there is a chance that your body isn’t resting enough and this can lead to increased muscle soreness due to a lack of recovery, since our muscles recover most when we are in a state of rest.
Switch Up the Routine
If you are one of the people who lifts weights 5-7 days a week, maybe it will yield greater results if you alter your training schedule. Try training 4 days a week with around 3 days of rest to help promote muscle growth. Studies have shown that when athletes spend more time in a recovery stage, it not only leads to reduced muscle soreness, but also an increase in physical results in both muscle gains and cardiovascular health.
A 4 day split of training body parts with 3 days of rest is a great approach to take if you are feeling constantly sore after working out for 5-7 days a week. Don’t ever feel like you have to train every single day in order to achieve results. If your goal is to lose 30lbs of fat or gain 30lbs of muscle, constantly working out 7 days a week doing cardio and lifting weights isn’t always going to yield the greatest results. Adjust your schedule if you feel like you are in a state of plateau or that you aren’t getting the results you want.
Take Home Message
Sometimes a little time off will help get past the idea that you are not seeing results and help prevent any possibility of over training. With any sport or workout routine it is possible for overtraining to be an issue. If you are:
☐ Feeling extremely tired
☐ Suffering from increased levels in muscle or body soreness
☐ Feeling physically sick
You could very well be overtraining your body and I would recommend taking a few days off and consuming an appropriate amount of food to help replenish your bodies nutrients. It is very important to make sure you eat enough food, drink enough water, stretch, and sleep a healthy amount daily in order to prevent the risk of overtraining from occurring.