There is no
disputing the importance of daily exercise, but as with all things, too much of
a good thing can have negative consequences. We spoke to an expert to find out
what overtraining is and how to avoid it.
struggle with any of the following problems, you might have stepped into the
realm of overtraining:
- You are
continually getting sick
- Your bones,
joints and muscles hurt
- You are
losing leanness despite increased exercise
- You feel
fatigued all the time
- You can’t
get a good night’s rest
Diedericks is an Olympic rower, Crossfit coach and personal trainer. She has
witnessed the toll that overtraining can take on the body first-hand, which is
why we turned to her for advice on how to identify the symptoms of overtraining
and some tips on how to avoid it.
Learn to listen to your body
Her first tip is probably the most
important – something that is very often neglected, to our detriment: “Listen
to your body! We are all unique individuals and need to find a rhythm that is
right for us. You need to learn what your body likes and dislikes, become aware
of you weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and nurture yourself accordingly,” she
starting with the basics: rest and nutrition. One of the major reasons people
suffer from overtraining is because they are not giving their body the
nourishment and the rest it needs to recover from a workout.
and recovery need the same attention as your workout. You also need to ensure
that you are eating good food (fresh, organic and as unprocessed as possible) –
performance is 80% diet, after all.”
Not just too much exercise
you’re reading this and realise that you have the symptoms of overtraining, and
yet you only train three times a week – how is this possible? Rika points out
that overtraining is not just about pushing one’s body in the gym, it’s about
what happens to it between workouts.
people have many other stressors that could push them into overtraining mode. It
is not solely determined by how many workouts you’re doing – it also includes
emotional, psychological and social stressors.”
One of the
biggest culprits is actually a lack of sleep. If you are not getting enough
sleep, your body will not function optimally and if you overload it with
intense workouts on top of insufficient shut-eye you are asking for trouble.
What to do if you are overtraining
If you are already suffering from
overtraining, Rika says you need to take some time to rejuvenate/recharge. Try
one of the following ideas:
- Take a
break, or at least reduce the volume or intensity of your workouts.
- Sleep, and
then sleep some more.
- A great
massage – get one.
- Focus on
active recovery. It is as important as exercise.
you start your new training cycle, make sure it is a cycle that includes rest
“I am a big
fan of a training regime that starts with the preparation of joints before any
exercise or working with weights
– and a session is only complete after an active recovery decompression
session. This allows me to handle multiple workouts per day, because of the active