Tag Archives: overtraining

Train Smarter, Not Harder

Most people would agree that exercise is a very good thing. Whether we are getting enough or any at all is another topic of discussion.  But if exercise is good then more must be better, right? Wrong! Too much of anything is no good and unfortunately there are those who think the same rules don’t apply when it comes to exercise. Perhaps they feel that they can shed those extra pounds by punishing their body repeatedly and for long periods of time. Or that they can defy all the laws of physiology and build tons of muscle and strength in just a few short weeks.  The fact is, in the end the body wins out and the reason why is because it is designed to do one thing despite what you try to throw at it at that’s to survive.

The Good and the Bad

Stress is usually a word associated with something negative, but not all stress is bad stress. Stress can be easily defined as any stimulus that challenges the body. For this discussion, exercise is a stress that is more appropriately defined as a eustress, or a stressor that causes a positive, healthful response. But as previously stated, just because it’s good doesn’t mean more must be better. The body can only handle so much stress at a time: physically, emotionally and spiritually, before it begins to break down and revert to survival mechanisms. When that happens, the once positive effects of the eustress become counterproductive, almost reversing the direction of the desired outcome. With too much exercise, often referred to as overtraining, that scenario manifests itself as muscle and/or joint pain, sluggishness, sleepiness, decreased appetite, decreased performance, decreased immunity, and worse, potential injury. While the “no pain, no gain” mentality may be a thing of the past, there is always a popular trend or fad that demonstrates dangerous, yet cool looking exercise as the best way to get fit. As a result of clever marketing, thousands buy into it only to discover in the end it’s not good for the long haul.

What is Too Much!

The human body and its capabilities have long been sought after by man. The Olympics, strongman contests, ultra endurance events, etc. – just when we thought the potential could be reached, it gets surpassed again. Is there a limit? When is enough, enough? That’s not a question the average exerciser is qualified to nor could answer – intelligently, that is. Physical exericse is an activity; an activity that can be performed and manipulated to achieve a desired result. Contrary to popular belief, just saying that you exercise has little to do with are you successfully utilizing it to achieve your goal. Case in point, “I go to the gym about 2-3 days per week but I haven’t seen any results.” The next statement usually goes something like this: ‘I’m going to double up my workouts, may be do a few two-a-days like I did back in high school, and then I’m going to go everyday for a few weeks.  That should get me back into shape.” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

The net result? An even more frustrated exerciser who is now no closer to the desired goal because they didn’t really examine the true problems that exist and perhaps are now dealing with the negative effects sidelining them from exercising at all. The simple notion of just doing more exercise, harder will yield almost the same result of doing no exercise at all – NOTHING!

Time to Drop the Hammer

General George Patton said it best. “A good plan, violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.” When you understand the value and benefit of exercise, not just simply doing it to do it, you will appreciate and respect the power that smart exercising can have. This includes planning your workouts; building in proper progressions (crawl before you can walk); taking care of the little things such as muscle tightness and joint mobility; addressing the “intangibles” such as diet and rest. It will lead to greater success and your true potential can be realized. In athletics, professional are called professionals because they have developed the proper progression and manipulation of the variables they can control to a level that puts them above the rest.  When you understand that you also have that same potential, you too will be the best that you can be.


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better



12 Days of Fitness 2011 – Day 11: Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Exercise?

download (3)(This is Part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful fitness tips over the holiday season)

‘Tis the season for eating, drinking, and being merry.  ‘Tis also the season when the masses start thinking about beginning an exercise habit.  What would a New Year’s resolution be without exercise?  After all, exercise is a great way to start getting healthy and shedding those unwanted pounds. And if exercise is good for you, more must be better, right? Well, that depends and sometimes in this case, less is more.

In the quest for better health and fitness, it is sometimes difficult to quell one’s enthusiasm and take a break from exercise, despite the fact that all you hear is how much more we need to exercise and how we are not getting enough.  What’s important to understand is that while exercise is good for you, just like anything else it can be done to excess.  The difference being that when exercise becomes counterproductive, it’s almost as bad as doing nothing at all.  The fine line between exercise as a benefit and exercise as a detriment should never be crossed when exercise is approached sensibly and appropriately.  This exercise as a detriment phenomenon is more commonly known as overtraining.

Overtraining was only once thought to be something that only athletes suffered from.  On the contrary, most athletes are well aware of the issue and have coaches and trainers to constantly monitor their progress. Everyday workout enthusiasts however are not aware and/or generally ignore the signs and symptoms of overtraining to the point where it leads to either injury or burnout.

Following are some signs and symptoms of overtraining and as you begin another year of better health and fitness, it is important to your success that you recognize them and do what is necessary to keep your gains on the up and up.

1        Excessive fatigue. Not to be confused with just a lack of sleep; a body that never has a chance to fully recover from a previous workout will continue to feel more and more fatigued.

2        Irritability. Too much exercise and too little rest can wreak havoc on the hormones, causing mood swings and creating an inability to concentrate.

3        Chronically elevated heart rate at rest and during exercise. One of the best physical tell tale signs of overtraining.

4        Loss of appetite. Overtraining can cause an increase in hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine that tend to inhibit appetite.  This is not an effective weight loss solution.

5        Insomnia or restless sleep. During sleep the body has time to rest and repair itself.  An overtrained body, however, is sometimes unable to slow down and completely relax, making it difficult to recover between workouts.

6        Chronic or nagging muscle aches or joint pain. Overused muscles and joints can cause constant aches, which may go unnoticed until the body is given proper rest.

7        More frequent illness and upper respiratory infections. Too much exercise taxes all of the body’s systems and makes it more difficult to ward off infections.

8        Increased perceived effort during normal workouts. Workouts should be challenging, but when they begin to become a burden, it’s time to take a rest.

9        Unexplainable weight loss or gain. Although regular exercise can result in weight loss, any more than 2-3 lbs. a week consistently is not a positive result, especially since the weight loss is more likely due to muscle wasting.

10   Menstrual cycle disturbances. Women who exercise excessively and do not consume enough calories may disrupt their menstrual cycle.  While some may experience irregular periods, others may stop menstruating all together.

Exercise is very good for you and too many are not getting enough.  But remember. More is not always better and sometimes less is more.


See you tomorrow for the final day of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.