Many of us know the sayings “go hard or go home” and “no pain, no gain”. In fact, many of us apply this sort of mentality when it comes to fitness and working out.
For some people, this sort of attitude can be motivating, however, for many others it can actually lead to harm and a lack of (good) results from your workouts.
Constantly pushing ourselves too much during a workout, can cause injury and not allow our bodies to recover, which can undo all of your intended good work.
Now while a little muscle soreness and post-workout tiredness are completely normal, a lot of the things we’ve been conditioned to think of as signs of a great workout, are also signs that your workout is quite possibly doing more harm than good.
Today, we want to talk about overtraining, and how you can recognise if you’re pushing yourself too hard when it comes to working out.
So, find out if you’re guilty of going a little too hard in the gym now.
What is overtraining?
The more exercise you get, the better right? Well, not when you’re going too hard, too often, or overtraining.
Overtraining happens when you are exercising too much without allowing your body to rest and recover enough. Your workouts might be occurring too often or might be too intense.
Commonly, and somewhat ironically, overtraining tends to occur when you’re trying to get fitter, with many people subscribing to the idea of shocking their bodies into new exercises and trying to make them a habit.
Overtraining happens to all kinds of people, including people who have been exercising regularly for years and athletes. But it is especially common in people who are really starting to embark on their fitness journey, as the consequences of overtraining can be mistaken as being those signs of a good workout we mentioned earlier – like tiredness and muscle soreness.
It’s important to understand that when it comes to fitness, more doesn’t always equal better. It’s also just as important to understand what pushing yourself too hard when it comes to exercising actually looks like.
Overtraining can affect you physically and mentally and lead to your workouts backfiring on you. So, here are some of the signs that you’re going a little too hard in your workouts.
Signs You’re Pushing Yourself Too Hard When You Work Out
You are really sore all of the time
Many of us take post-workout soreness as a sign of a job well done. While soreness is common, it really shouldn’t last for too long. It also shouldn’t happen every single time after your workout, especially if you’re doing the same sorts of workouts each time.
Soreness more commonly occurs when you try something completely new, increase the intensity of your workout or you’re working out your muscles in ways you never have or haven’t for a while.
Normal post-workout soreness will most likely occur around 6-8 hours after your workout and may last up to 24 to 48 hours after your workout. But, if you’re not sore after a workout, that doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t had a good workout. If you’re already quite fit, your body may be better at adapting to new workouts and how to distribute the use of your muscles or your genetics can also play apart in how susceptible you are to muscle soreness.
When it comes to overtraining, if you’re still sore after three days, you’re sore in your joints, or you try to do the same exercises after three days and you just can’t, this can be a sign of injury or muscle overuse.
A sign of a good workout might include a little bit of soreness but mostly you should feel like you’ve used the muscles and you can still move comfortably.
You really dread going to the gym
Ok, so we know that you’re probably thinking, don’t we all kind of dread working out? Sometimes that’s true, even here at Rec Xpress, we have our off days and struggle to get the job done.
However, if you truly dread the idea of working out when you have been exercising regularly, this might be a sign of overdoing it.
Exercising releases endorphins and does feel good. When you are first getting used to working out it’s not always easy. You are probably feeling a little more tired than usual, which is understandable as your body adapts. But there is a difference between feeling tired and feeling totally unmotivated.
Your workouts can be fun, and when you push yourself to the right level, and not too hard, you’ll find that your body starts to crave working out rather than dreading it.
So, if the idea of stepping foot back into the gym and getting your sweat on fills you with fear, then you might be overdoing it.
Perhaps take a step back to see if there is a particular aspect of your workout routine that is making you feel this way.
You are sick or feeling run down regularly
A very ironic side effect of overtraining is getting sick or feeling run down on the reg. You’re trying to get fit and healthy after all.
Well, when you’re overtraining and not allowing your body to rest and recover properly, you’re really setting yourself up for failure by impacting your immune system.
When we exercise too much, there is a hormonal change in the body, where the levels of two stress hormones is raised, and these are known to suppress our immune system.
While the immune system does all that it can, when it is suppressed too often, it can mean that opportunistic illnesses and infections can strike, which leads to you getting sick.
This doesn’t occur when you exercise moderately on a regular basis.
You’re aren’t seeing any results or improvements in your performance
If you’ve been going hard at a routine for a while but you’re not really seeing any improvements in your performance, this could be a sign that you’re going too hard.
When we don’t see improvements in our workouts we tend to think that we aren’t trying hard enough, but the reality is that exercise stresses the body, and when you don’t take the time to recover from this stress, your body will continue to break down rather than build strength and endurance.
This might result in an inability to lift heavier weights or even the current weight you’re using, a lack of endurance, and even muscle loss and weight gain.
You’re experiencing injuries
Keep in mind that injuries can happen for all sorts of reasons, including a little bit of clumsiness or some bad luck. However, often, we become injured as a result of overworking ourselves.
If you’re constantly working out too much and feeling sore quite often, recognising a sign of an injury may be difficult, which can lead to a worsening of the injury as well.
It’s important to listen to your body, so if you feel a weird pull during a particular maneuver stop what you are doing. If you feel joint pain, this is also a sign to stop what you are doing. And if you do experience an injury, like you roll your ankle, make sure you give yourself adequate time to recover.
Now that you know the signs of overtraining, let’s talk about how you can avoid them and workout safely.
Avoid going too hard with these workout tips
When it comes to working out and finding an ideal workout routine, it is different for every single person. We’re all starting from different fitness levels, we all have different abilities, we all have different genetic make-up, and we all have different motivations and goals.
Your ideal fitness regime won’t happen overnight and it’s likely that you won’t get it right the first time, but here are 5 tips to make your fitness routine safe and effective.
Ease into it
You do not need to go in with all cylinders firing. Yes, it’s a good idea to push yourself and know what your limits are to an extent. But that doesn’t mean that you come in and lift the heaviest dumbbells or set the treadmill to 10km/hr straight away.
You’re better off starting small and slow and increasing gradually. Your body will thank you for it and it’s a great way for you to test what you like as well without wiping yourself out for a few days.
Rest is just as important as the exercise itself. Make sure you stretch after your workout. Make sure you aren’t working out the exact same thing every single day. And make sure you’re not sacrificing sleep.
Fuel your body right
You need to eat. And preferably, eat well. A lot of people make the mistake of hitting the gym hard and starting a crash diet at the same time. Make sure to consult a nutritionist and avoid diet fads that you just read or watched on the internet. This is a surefire way to not maintain a workout routine. You need to fuel your body so that it has energy for your workouts. This means that you need protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Try a range of exercises
Exercise doesn’t need to be torture or boring. There are so many different kinds of exercise that you’re bound to find something you love. Even within a gym, there are so many machines and equipment that you might find some things you really love. You don’t need to do the same thing over and over, mix it up and try new things.
Work out with a professional
Another old saying that doesn’t necessarily get the credit it deserves in the workout world is “less is more”. A great exercise routine can have you spending less time or doing less reps but seeing greater results, but it’s all about finding that right balance for you. This is where a professional personal trainer can do wonders for you. They can help assess you and your abilities and help you strike that balance so you’re doing the most effective routine possible.
We’ve also got some more tips about how to get started with working out regularly, and some tips on what you shouldn’t do when getting started on your fitness journey, which might just give you all the info you need.
And if you’re looking for a gym in Melbourne’s South-East, why not check us out here at Rec Xpress. We’ve got 6 locations in areas like Bentleigh, Clayton, East Brighton, Huntingdale, Ormond, and Cheltenham, and being open 24/7, you can find the perfect workout routine at any time of day.
Remember go hard but not too hard!