Do you go to the gym too much? As the inspirational hashtag goes, there’s no pain without gain, however where the gym, your so-called second home is concerned, where is the line drawn? When does enough become too much? Overtraining might seem like something only for those who consider a rest-day obsolete, but with training comes the inevitable burn out. So what are the telltale signs that we might need to put the weights down and give it a break?
Overtraining can, and will, hold the ‘gain-train’ firmly on the platform. Meanwhile your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) will go through the roof. You might be lifting the same weights as usual, however each rep seems harder than usual. What’s more, that pain and fatigue that comes synonymously with a good workout could also be a sign that it’s time for a rest. If your progress seems to have halted for a few weeks, that’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down. On top of all of that, if you keep getting ill and can’t shake the sniffles, your immune system is struggling to cope with the load.
Whilst the “runner’s high” is undoubtedly the real deal, too much exercise can put you on a permanent come-down. Mentally, the symptoms of overtraining come in the form of depression and a lack of motivation. You might feel the need to workout, but you’re certainly not enjoying it anymore and because of that your efficiency has dropped. If that’s the case, have a think about your original motivation for training and if that still drives you then great, but if not then move the goalposts and aim for something else – the enjoyment will come back.
So you’re hitting the gym at lunchtime rather than bicep curling a pint with your work-buddies? That’s great, but if you’re missing your best friends birthday or family get-togethers because the idea of skipping leg day sends you into a spiral then you need to readdress your priorities. At the end of the day, exercise should enhance your life not become it, so give your work-life balance some consideration and don’t feel bad about cutting short those sets for some “active recovery” with your friends because that extra gain won’t make them like you any more.