THE FACTS: THE DEFINITION OF OVER TRAINING
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Sport Science and Medicine , overtraining is a complex syndrome, and it is described as a combination of signs and symptoms of overtraining which typically causes the sufferer to feel mentally fatigued in absence of physical fatigue and causes deterioration of performance. The sufferer’s basal metabolic rate is elevated, there is usually a loss of body weight associated with a negative nitrogen balance, and the rate of return of exercise pulse-rate to resting pulse-rate is delayed. The overtraining syndrome involves changes in the neuron and endocrine systems, particularly the hypothalamus. Overtraining is understood as a long-term form of overloading, whereas overreaching is short-term overtraining. It’s suggested that two stages of the adaptation process related to the average load of training (volume × intensity). In the beginning, the performance increases with a load up to a plateau, and beyond this, there is a slight decrease of performance named overreaching followed by a dramatic loss due to the stages of Overtraining. However, this division is only a rough guideline because the transitions between the points listed above are fluent. However, the causes, symptoms, and treatments of OT are not sport-specific, and the results of a study most studies are transferable to many other sports. There are intrinsic factors that also play key roles in the effect of overtraining. Insufficient nutrition will result in the body not being able to recover adequately after intense bouts of exercise. Lack of sleep has also shown to increase stress hormones, namely cortisol. This being one of the key catabolic hormones secreted from the adrenals when the body is under stress. The human body can only take so much physical exertion, and most often overtraining is seen in athletes who perform excessive workload and do not listen to their body when it’s telling them to slow down a little. If you are continually feeling tired, lack the motivation to exercise this is one of the signs that you may be pushing the limits of your body’s recovery system. Overtraining is quite common in newcomers to any sport because they are overly enthusiastic yet do not understand the need for recovery and value of nutrition. For example if you have just commenced a weight training program with the goal of adding lean muscle to you frame you may feel that going to the gym more often will enable you to reach your goals faster. The truth is when it comes to weight training it can’t be related to any other sport because it is highly dependent on paced workouts and recovery time. For example the more you practice golf of tennis the better you become, as these are more skill based sports. When it comes to weight training it’s not a “practice makes perfect” protocol. This is why many new comers to weight training end up dropping off after a few months, they overtrain which then leads to lack of motivation and ultimately failure to add any degree of lean muscle mass because their body has entered into a overtrained state. It’s important to understand the concept of weight training and employ the less is more approach. It’s remarkable the results that can be obtained from working out with weights for as little as 30 minutes three times per week! The secret is to balance your exertion with periods of rest and make weight training a long term investment in your health and fitness. Not a frenzied short-lived burst where you fizzle out after 2-3 months. Take a close look at your weight training program, spending too long in the gym? Or doing too much cardio work? Listen carefully to your body, if you have feelings of lack lustre it’s advisable to take a week or two off from all exercise because you may be falling into an overtrained state. Return with a plan that complements your lifestyle and allows for solid nutrition and adequate recovery time.