Are you over-training?

We have often heard that, “Excess of anything is bad”, this phrase goes with exercise as well. Exercise can only be beneficial if it is done in correct volume. Every individual has different response to training load and rate of adaptation. Considering these individual differences, a training program should be prepared and progressed accordingly.

A good training program features an optimal training load which depends on training volume, intensity and rest periods. Training volume involves duration and frequency whereas training intensity involves force of muscle action and stress on cardio vascular system. A person opting for weight or resistance training has to do high intensity and low volume and vice versa for aerobic or cardio training. Recovery is an essential part of training for which there has to be appropriate rest periods within training programs.

When any of the training factors exceeds to what is required or there is any imbalance between workout and recovery, it can lead to over-training. The individual will start experiencing physiological mal-adaptations and performance decrement which can last weeks, months or even longer. Apart from physiological mal-adaptations, over-training also affects an individual psychologically.

Major physical signs of over-training syndrome include increase in muscle tension and tenderness, increased susceptibility to illness, change in appetite and body loss, elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure and decreased energy levels. Common psychological signs include irritability, restlessness, depression, insecurity, lack of motivation, increased anxiety and fatigue, and decreased vigor and mood states.

Over-training syndrome can not only keep an individual away from sports and physical activity for weeks or months but can also make them quit. Early detection of over-training can save a person from undergoing these physical and psychological issues. Under appropriate supervision and by physiological tests like VO2 max testing these signs can be detected at an early stage. However it is not feasible and practical at individual level. A simpler way to keep track of your training is by keeping a training diary. Recording your training sessions, comments about training, noting your morning resting heart rate, any signs of injury and overall comment for the week regarding mood, sleep etc. These recordings can be tallied at regular intervals to evaluate your rate of adaptation to your training program and notice increment or decrement in performance.

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