Note from the editor: This post was originally published in February 2013. I’ve updated it to include more information on how you can avoid overtraining too. ~ Zoe XOXO

Have you ever had that feeling where you start struggling to push yourself through your training sessions, they start to feeling really hard all the time, you don’t even want to exercise and you just start feeling utterly exhausted? Like everything in your body is sooooo fatigued and you can’t figure out why because you’ve been eating super well and training consistently … so surely your fitness should be getting better?!

You might be thinking to yourself “Wow I feel like a bucket of sh*t!”

… or it’s just one of the many signs you’re overtraining.

If you’re like I used to be with my training (all or nothing), I would rarely go a day without doing something, if not double sessions a day. It’s a different story now after going through many health issues like iron deficiency and mild adrenal fatigue, I learned to listen to my body and pull back from going nuts with the exercise.

On a basic level, overtraining is simply your performance level decreases and your body is not able to recover like it normally would. Overtraining is not a black and white situation where you go from being fine to “Oh I’m totally overtrained now!”.

Here are the tell tale things you can watch out for so you don’t end up in that very un-kinky shade of overtraining.

7 Signs You’re Overtraining

1. You can’t complete your workouts.

Not like the failure you get as you push through those last reps. I’m talking you’ve dropped your weights and/or reps down and it feels like a huge struggle still. If you are not lifting or able to work at the same intensity, then it is good sign you need some more recovery time.

2. Your immunity has left the building.

Whilst exercise is good for you, it is also bad for you. Stay with me here! Exercise causes oxidative stress in your body which in turn leads to systemic inflammation. Whilst inflammation is a by product of normal cellular functions, if you are not doing the right things to combat the oxidative stress, you will wind up with a weaken immune system and damage on a cellular level. The only way you can help antioxidant support from fruit and vegetables. Even with good nutrition, you can still end up overtraining but this definitely increases your immune system at least.

3. Your resting heart rate has gone up?!

If you know your normal resting heart rate (RHR) and track this, then you may notice that your RHR is elevated more than normal or taking longer to come back down after exercise. Obviously as you get fitter, it should actually be lower; so this can be a sign that your body is struggling.

4. You feel pretty flat and even a bit depressed.

That endorphine high of training can have a flip side. Too much training can affect key neurotransmitters in your body, particularly your serotonin and dopamine hormones. These are often called the “feel good” hormones and affect your mood, movement, pleasure sensations and even impulsive and social behaviours. (One great way to set up your neurotransmitters for the day is to eat the Meat + Nut Breakfast).

5. You seem to have more aches and injuries are popping up everywhere.

I’m not talking about a bit of muscle tear and DOMS. Those chronic aches or niggling little pains. You might find you’re getting one injury after another. Not enough recovery is key to preventing this as well as ensuring your nutrition is top notch.

6. You aren’t as hungry as usual.

Other hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine which inhibit your appetite can be affected by the physical exhaustion and even anxiety or stress that comes with overtraining. It’s a vicious cycle as you eat less, you risk further oxidative stress and damage to your body.

7. Your fat loss has plateaued or even gone backwards.

Exercise elevates your cortisol levels and if these are elevated repeatedly for long periods you are going to have increased abdominal obesity and struggle with fat loss. Cortisol is catabolic and can cause loss of muscle tissue by converting your lean muscle tissue into glucose.

3 Simple Steps to Avoid Overtraining

1. Sleep, rest, recovery.

Sleep is probably one of the biggest factors to not being able to recover effectively from your training. The good news is, it’s the easiest one to fix and it’s totally free! Try to get to bed a few hours earlier, and aim for 6-8 hours sleep a night. A 30-60 minute nap post-workout is one of my favourite things to do – have your post workout feed, then hit the hay for some Zzz’s and you’ll wake up feeling amazing!

You will also want to make sure you’re getting in active recovery days e.g. one day off a week from heavy training, and instead do something like a nice walk or some yoga or pilates. Sometimes you’ll just want to do absolutely nothing too!

2. Nutrition and eating enough.

Sometimes “overtraining” might actually just be “under-nourishing” your body. If you’re on a super low calorie diet then don’t expect your body to perform at it’s best, especially not over the long term. You don’t have to deprive yourself to achieve fat loss or great body composition.

You need to make sure you have excellent micro nutrition support as well as your macro balance / calorie intake too – if you’re body is not performing at its optimum peak on a cellular level, then you can’t expect it to repair and recover properly either. Check out The Complete Detox Cleanse Nourish 24 day meal plan to show you how you can get great results and still eat delicious, nourishing food.

3. Reducing stress.

Stress on is another negative impact, whether it’s mental and emotional stress, environmental stresses from toxins or pollution, or on the most obvious level – the actual physical stress caused from your exercise routine.

It’s important to reduce your stress levels across all of these as they will all impact on your cellular health again, and impair your recovery from training. It might be a good idea to incorporate daily meditation or yoga and look at the chemicals you’re putting on your skin and ingesting or are exposed to regularly. And of course, make sure that you’re training program is not excessive in volume all the time and you are scheduling in a de-load week or active recovery sessions.

Hopefully you can catch the tell tale signs you’re overtraining before you end up seriously screwing up your body. Most people will only need take a few days to a week to recover and on the real serious side of it, some may need weeks to months …  but it’s more likely that you are going to fall into just needing 3-7 days to recover – so plan out your next rest week and enjoy a little holiday from the gym!

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