Over Training

by: Lisa Ritchie

Too much of a good thing! Many of us believe that you need to train even harder and longer to reach your goals, to be the best, to win the race. This can’t be farther from the truth. Don’t train harder, train smarter!

Overuse injuries are one of the biggest obstacles to fitness success especially among new exercisers. Many of us get so excited and pleased with the initial results of working out that we think a little more could yield even better results. In fact, too much exercise can be as unhealthy as no exercise at all.

Resistance (weight) training can lead to over training injuries if you workout too often or without enough rest between sets or workouts. You need time off to allow your muscles to heal, re-knit and grow. This type of injury can also occur if you lift too heavy. This is particularly true if you take over the counter pain killers, such as ibuprofen, to ease muscle soreness. If you’re too sore to complete, or even begin, your normal workout routine – don’t be afraid to skip a day or substitute a low intensity workout such as yoga or walking.

Aerobic exercisers can also “burnout”. Some common injuries include tennis elbow, tendonitis in the knee and Plantar fasciitis where the thin tissue along the bottom of your foot is strained. The BEST medicine is to rest.

What are some of the common signs of over training?

In addition to the symptoms listed above, over training can result in hormonal changes that can cause a loss of protein and amino acids, called “negative nitrogen balance”. Other factors contributing to over training, besides too much exercise, include poor nutrition, lack of quality sleep and emotional stress. These can increase your need for vitamins, minerals, protein and calories before exercising. Your workout should be pleasurable and help reduce stress rather than adding to it.

The harder you train the more rest you need. Make sure you take sufficient time off between your workouts to give your body the recovery time it needs. This is true for both strength training and cardio. At least one day between workouts is recommended. Make sure you’re also getting enough sleep and that it’s undisturbed. On a day when you have no obligations, draw the shades tight, and don’t set an alarm. Let your body wake up naturally when it’s ready. If you follow a regular sleep schedule, seven days a week, your body will eventually develop this pattern automatically. Experiment to find out how many hours sleep is optimal for you each night.

Another way to avoid over training is to cross train. This will help you use different muscles in various ranges of motion and helps beat boredom. If you’re a regular cyclist try running or inline skating a few days a week. Vary your strength training as well. There are five factors to play with: intensity (how hard you train), frequency (how often), duration (how long), mode (free weights, machines, tubing, cables) and the order of your exercises.

Of course you always want to warm up before your workout and afterwards be sure to stretch every muscle group. This will increase your flexibility, reduce lactic acid and lower your risk of injuries. If you’re particularly sore after a workout massage can help. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts.



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These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.