When you’re training hard, training well, and making good progress in the gym, all seems right in the world. When you happen to be on a roll, it can be tempting to stick with what you’re doing, rather than try to break things up a bit. In terms of training, health, and fitness in general however, recovery is vital for a whole variety of reasons. If you’re looking to get everything out of your training regime, recovery days are equally as important as training days. In fact, some would argue that recovery days are more important than training days in the gym. It’s important that we know our limits when training, and that we know what the human body is capable of.
The Dangers of Overtraining
Too many people train too frequently, and too intensely, without giving their bodies time to relax, and subsequently they pay the price. Overtraining is a very common issue in the fitness community, and it can have pretty serious ramifications when it comes to our overall health and fitness in general. Overtraining can not only hinder your progress in the gym, it can result in injury, fatigue, illness, muscle loss, and complete mental and physical burnout in the process. While it can be tough to avoid overtraining when you’re in the swing of things, it can be done.
How To Avoid Overtraining
Now that we know the brief dangers associated with overtraining, it’s important that we know what we can do to prevent it. Here are some tips on how to avoid overtraining:
Know your limits
Nobody knows you better than yourself, so when it comes to training and preventing overtraining, it’s important that you know your physical and mental limitations. One of the biggest causes of overtraining is when people simply try pushing themselves too hard, and try to do too much, too soon. When exercising, it doesn’t matter whether you are lifting weights in the gym, running drills on the field, running off road, cycling, swimming, or anything else, you should always train within your physical limitations and not try pushing yourself too hard.
Create a Training Schedule
One of the best ways of avoiding overtraining is to create an effective training schedule which you should adhere to at all times. Set yourself clear and concise days for training, and make sure to set yourself at least two full days off from training each week. These are known as recovery days, so the clue is in the name. Having those days off from training will allow your body to heal itself, your energy levels to become replenished, and for you to get some much-needed rest. After a quality rest day, the next time you hit the gym your energy levels should be through the roof, and you should feel better than ever. Including rest/recovery days in your schedule means that you know exactly when you should be resting, so there’s no excuse for trying to squeeze another workout in because you’re worried you’ll lose your gains.
Listen To Your Body
When a person overtrains, there are side-effects and symptoms to look out for just like there are with certain illnesses. Common signs of overtraining include:
- Loss of motivation
- Aching and sore muscles
- Muscle loss
- Weight gain
- Trouble sleeping
- No progress or improvements in physique or athletic performance
- Frequent illness due to suppression of the immune system
- Trouble concentrating
The above are just some of the more common symptoms associated with overtraining. When it comes to training and working out, one of the best ways of avoiding overtraining is to listen to your body and see how you feel. If you constantly feel tired, sore, weak, or as if you’re losing your love for working out, this could be down to overtraining, in which case it’s time to take a step back and give your body and mind time to recover.
Take Some Time Off
To some fitness fanatics, the thought of taking time off from the gym will cause them to break out in a cold sweat. They work themselves into a frenzy of nerves and anxiety because they’re convinced that a week or two away from the gym, and from working out in general, will suddenly cause them to undo all of the progress they’ve made over the last several months/years. In reality, sometimes time off is exactly what is needed. If you find yourself constantly sore, stiff, tired, aching, weak, and lacking energy and motivation, this is probably because you’ve been training too much. In this instance, a day or two away from the gym just won’t cut it. Give yourself a week or two away from training, and just do the absolute bare minimum in terms of exercise – we’re talking a leisurely stroll at a slow pace. The time off will allow your body and mind to heal itself and recover properly, so when you do return to training, you’ll feel great and will have more strength, energy, and motivation, than you know what to do with.
Get Enough Nutrients
Diet is also very important when it comes to preventing overtraining. You see, after intense exercise, your body needs proteins, amino acids, and nutrients to repair the muscle tissues, build new muscle, replenish your energy levels, and basically get everything ticking over internally as it should. This means that you need to ensure your diet contains plenty of healthy produce, in the right quantities. Stock up on healthy fats, complex carbs, lean proteins, water, and fresh fruits and vegetables which are packed full of goodness. The better your diet, the greater your levels of recovery will be.