Train­ing too much can be as harm­ful as train­ing too lit­tle, but how can you tell if your ac­tions are dam­ag­ing your body and mind – and what can be done to pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing?

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS -

Don’t fly too close to the sun with our guide

1 You skip the gym

Giv­ing the bench press the oc­ca­sional swerve is nat­u­ral. But if you sud­denly don’t fancy work­ing out at all, you might be se­verely fraz­zled. In this case, a change is as good as a rest. “Take time off and find an­other ac­tiv­ity that gives you a sense of sat­is­fac­tion,” rec­om­mends per­for­mance coach Richard Nu­gent of Twenty One Lead­er­ship. “Try a dif­fer­ent sport or just take some walks out­side. While your body re­cov­ers, you can dis­cover a new mo­ti­va­tion.”

2 You can’t walk

It’s all well and good to ‘feel the burn’, but if you’re still a phys­i­cal wreck three days later, you prob­a­bly re­quire a re­think. “Af­ter high-in­ten­sity train­ing you can be look­ing at 48 hours of mus­cu­lar sore­ness,” says Mike Watts, As­ton Villa’s head of per­for­mance. “But if it con­tin­ues to go on longer than that, ad­dress it. Make sure you warm down fully, and try do­ing ac­tive re­cov­ery the day af­ter ex­er­cise.”

3 You’re ad­dicted to ‘the hit’

The flip side to skip­ping the gym is work­ing out too much. If you’re living on the leg press, take stock. “You can get hooked on that dopamine hit, and feel down if you miss a ses­sion,” says Karl Mor­ris, a per­for­mance coach who works with Burn­ley and top golfers. “You end up chas­ing that feel­ing, de­plete the sys­tem and it’s a vi­cious cy­cle. Eval­u­ate why you train. Set a healthy goal, rather than chas­ing a high.”

4 You’ve been feel­ing down

A re­cent study from Tel Aviv Uni­ver­sity claimed that burnout and de­pres­sion are con­nected, as “there is a phys­i­cal, cog­ni­tive and emo­tional ex­haus­tion”. So if you find your­self in­ex­pli­ca­bly mis­er­able, ex­am­ine your men­tal trig­gers for over­train­ing. “Are you fill­ing a void else­where, or get­ting ob­sessed with body is­sues?” says Mor­ris. “Have you stopped get­ting re­sults? A men­tal stock-take can work won­ders.”

5 You take things too se­ri­ously

Elite ath­letes who of­ten burn out cite in­tense pres­sure to achieve. Even am­a­teurs can ex­pe­ri­ence the same thing. “Re­mem­ber why you are train­ing and plan it prop­erly,” says Watts. “Have a goal, make it fun and timetable your re­cov­ery. If you start get­ting re­sults again, you’ll feel re­warded.”

6 You’re get­ting in­jured or ill

If your body fails to re­cu­per­ate prop­erly, you can en­ter a ‘con­tin­ued car­bolic state’, which means you’re more likely to get ill or in­jured. “If you are un­able to shake off colds, you may be over­do­ing things,” says Mor­ris. “It’s a fine line. To get fit you need to over­load the sys­tem, but if you go too far, fa­tigue re­duces re­ac­tion time, [re­sult­ing in] in­jury and a low­ered im­mune sys­tem.” Take a rest by swap­ping the hard­core stuff for some low-in­ten­sity ac­tiv­i­ties.

7 You can’t sleep

Over­train and the ner­vous sys­tem will be­come over­stim­u­lated, lead­ing to sleep­less nights and fa­tigue. “To counter this, in­crease re­lax­ation time and con­sider it a vi­tal part of your work­out,” says Nu­gent. “You also shouldn’t ex­cite your­self dur­ing this rest time by watch­ing thrilling tele­vi­sion or play­ing video games. Do some­thing that’s ac­tu­ally rest­ful.”

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Warm up and down prop­erly

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