Creating a customized training program can not only allow you to get that perfect body you've always wanted, but it can also make you healthier, happier and more energetic at the exact same time. However, one of the most important things to keep in mind as you set out to unlock your fit new lifestyle is that there CAN be too much of a good thing. Overtraining is very much something to concern yourself with and not just because at some point you will start to yield diminishing returns with your progress. If you want to determine whether or not you're working too hard, there are a few key signs you'll want to watch out for.
One of the major dangers of pushing your body past its physical limits has to do with the increased chance of injury it brings with it. As your muscles weaken, even routine physical activity is more likely to hurt more than it should - to say nothing of the increased chances of conditions like stress fractures, tendonitis and more.
Overworking yourself like this can actually have the opposite effect from the one you want - you'll not only start to get slower, but weaker as well. Finally, as you begin to overwork yourself, your immune system actually begins to function WORSE than it did before you started - leading to an increased chance of illness that you'd do well to avoid.
Perhaps the most important warning sign to watch out for with regards to your exercise routine takes the form of prolonged muscle soreness. Everyone feels a little sore in the hours or even the day after an intense workout, but this will quickly go away - or at least it should. If you're still feeling sore throughout the day 72 hours or more after your workout, this is a clear-cut indicator that it might be time for a little break.
Remember: your body always needs time to recover after intense physical activity. This is actually part of the reason training is so successful in the first place, as it is during this recovery period that our muscles rebuild themselves and get stronger. If you don't leave the opportunity for this to happen, you could be doing a lot more harm than good.
Another key indicator that you might be overtraining has to do with the frequency at which you get sick. Because you're already an exercise aficionado, the chances are high that you have a solid immune system in place. If you're getting sick more frequently than ever (or if a single cold lasts longer than it ever has in the past), take this as an indication that you've been pushing yourself too hard.
One of the more subtle signs that you might be overworking yourself takes the form of an insatiable thirst that you just can't seem to quench. Once again, this can be an easy one to overlook. After all, who DOESN'T feel thirsty after a workout? However, the key word here is "insatiable": if you get to the point where you feel like no matter what you drink you'll STILL be thirsty, it is very likely that you've been working too hard in the gym and will need to cut back.
Another major sign that you might be working a bit too hard has to do with your level of fatigue. Nobody knows your body better than you do, so start paying attention to when and why you get tired throughout the day. If you're usually pretty energetic all day long but recently have been getting hit with fatigue and lethargy after your workouts, you can absolutely take it as an indication that you need to go easy the next time you hit the gym. Note that an overall lack of motivation is a similar symptom that also falls into this category.
Making the decision to create a workout routine and stick with it is one of the best ways to live the healthy, fit lifestyle you've always wanted - to a degree. Remember that you CAN work too hard and the disadvantages of this go above and beyond just slowing your progress. You're not a machine - don't ever forget it. By giving yourself time to rest and by paying attention to what your body is trying to tell you in between workouts, you can see the type of progress you're after and avoid the risk of overtraining at the same time.
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