Starting out at the gym can be incredibly exciting as you have a brand new playground to enjoy full of dumbbells, barbells, cables and much more, all on your way to a healthier and stronger you. However, push yourself too hard too soon and you could end up ‘overtraining’ causing your overall health and performance to diminish.
What Is Overtraining?
Overtraining is as it sounds - training too much without giving your body enough time to recover. It’s usually a result of neglecting the increased physical demands that are placed on your body. Wanting to know if you have overtrained? You might be seeing some of these symptoms:
Signs Of Overtraining
- Fatigue or low energy
- Excessive muscle soreness
- Reduced performance during a workout
How To Avoid Overtraining
- Know when to take a rest day
- Be smart with your weights
- Get good sleep
- Split our your muscle groups
- Listen to your body
Know When To Take A Rest Day
If you want to run a marathon, it’s unlikely that you’re going to start by running a 10k on day 1. The same principle should apply to weight training. If you’re just starting out at the gym, going 6 days a week might not be the best strategy as your body needs time to get used to the increased energy expenditure.
Rest days are when your body is repairing itself after a challenging workout. Start off slow by going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week to get used to the new demands placed on your muscles. Over time, you’ll be able to increase your weekly gym sessions to 3,4 5 and even 6 if you wish.
Be Smart With Your Weights
Every gym will have someone throwing their back out trying to lift weights that are far too heavy for them. Be smart with your weights and pick a weight that safely challenges you for the rep range you are working in. If you usually struggle to curl 10kg dumbbells for 5 reps, don’t go for 9kg and try to do 12 - chances are you will lose form and potentially hurt yourself.
Go through the proper range of motion on each movement with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise fully and safely, while you can feel it challenging the muscle you are trying to work.
Get Good Sleep
Arguably the most important part of any workout plan is sleep. This is when a cascade of processes occur within your body to help your muscles repair and grow. The typical recommended amount is 7-9 hours of sleep regardless of whether you are training or not, but this daily dose is even more important when you are putting your body under increased physical demands.
Working out too hard without getting the right amount of sleep is just one way of not getting the proper training/recovery balance.
Split Out Your Muscle Groups
If you want your muscles to grow, you need to give them adequate repair time in between sessions. If you want to work out your back 3 times a week, doing so on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday might not be the best approach. Instead, a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday session will give your back 24-48 hours of repair and growth opportunity between sessions.
If your muscles don’t repair, then the next day you will be working out with hindered muscle fibres and likely not performing to your full potential.
Listen To Your Body
Did you plan to take on a 5 mile run today just for your body to still be sore or exhausted from your previous workout? Listen to your body and take a rest day. Remember, the whole point of exercising is to become healthier, and sitting with a cold because you have overworked yourself isn’t an example of a healthy human. Would you rather take one day off the gym to recover fully? Or take 5 days off in a row due to illness or injury? The former seems more likely and will benefit you much more in the long term.
Suffering from overtraining already? Our range of massage guns, supports and other recovery products can help you get back in the game sooner rather than later!
Overtraining can happen to anyone, whether you are an experienced gym-goer or someone just starting out. Listen to your body, recover properly and be smart with your weights in the gym to give your body the best chance at growing stronger.