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How do you know if you're overtraining? What do you do about it?
Symptoms Related to Training
Symptoms & Signs Unrelated to Training
If you have consistently experienced any of the above, it’s time to revise your training schedule and recovery. First, take a complete break from all training (other than short, light walks) for about a week.
Next, examine how frequently you train through the week, how many sets of exercise you perform during each session, how long your rest intervals are, and how long it takes you to complete training sessions. You might need to reduce the total training days, and the number of sets per training session. You might also need to increase the frequency of breaks from training, or deload weeks (which is when you still do your training, but use a higher repetition range and a lower rated perceived exertion level than usual – i.e. 5-6/10 instead of 7-8/10).
If you consistently experience any of the above symptoms again, in spite of reducing your training frequency to 3 sessions a week, each no longer than 45 minutes to 1 hour (or about 12-15 sets each), and increasing the frequency of training breaks to every 4 weeks, then you might need to Periodise your training.
The other thing to examine is your recovery schedule. Specifically, you might need to go to bed 30 mins earlier than usual (assuming you already allocate enough time to sleep 8 hours per night). Make sure that you optimise the conditions for sleep (dark room, quiet, comfortable temperature etc.).
Are you more stressed out than usual, or are you usually stressed-out? Is there is anything that you can do to change to the situation stressing you out? Is the situation going to change by itself any time soon? If the stressful situation is likely to persist, then you might need to get some help managing it. You might also benefit from meditation, relaxation training, controlled breathing etc.
Sometimes, what seems like overtraining is actually due to diet. You might either have been in a calorie deficit for too long, or your relative intake of one or more of your macro- or micro-nutrients might have been too low for too long. If you haven’t had a diet break for some weeks, and if your deficit has been going on for more than 3 months, maybe you should reverse diet back up to maintenance and recover for a couple of weeks.
You might also be interested in the following articles:
8 reasons why meal planning will ensure you lose weight and keep it off for good
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Diet sabotage – drinking your calories
The secret to eating for weight loss
Integrated approach to long term weight loss & better health
Consistency – The Key to Success
Diet, training & recovery
Overtraining – too much of a good thing
Leanness and muscularity
The different aspects of fitness
Welcome. I am Dr Megan Chircop. I am a medical scientist and nutritionist with 20 years in medical research. As such, I have extensive knowledge and a thorough understanding of how the body works. I am able to simplify the science behind the way food fuels the body and mind to provide energy and nutrition needed to achieve optimal health and vitality. I am also a keen sportswoman, and have extensive knowledge of sports nutrition.
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