5 Signs That You Are Overtraining

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On a Scooter in NYC
Rodrigo Cayo (DREAM)

Some of us leading a healthy lifestyle seem to get too carried away with things and sometimes end up training too much in spite of our bodies telling us no. The problem is we can become pretty bad at listening to the signals our bodies put out, sometimes all we need is a day of total rest with nothing more than maybe some light stretching and some basic moving around.

The main reason for writing this post is that I have been guilty of overtraining in the past few weeks, you see I have had some extra time on my hands and have been spending it either in the gym or playing sports. This led to some pretty consistent training, all be it too consistent. About a week ago I started to feel tired, not as energetic as usual. Before long I was struck down with a pretty bad cold/flu which left me in bed with fever for about 48hours with the effects still lingering around.

Well thats what you get for ignoring the messages to tone things down, and take a day off. So what are the hidden symptoms/signs that you maybe training too hard, or putting too much physical stress on your body in one way or another?

1- Increased Appetite. This was one of the first things I noticed, my appetite literally went through the roof. In spite of feeling full the need to eat wasn’t going away. This seems to come from the body looking for extra calories or nutrients in order to repair the damage done and replenish glycogen stores and rebuild the muscle. And whilst this is not a bad thing, it must be listened too if you are extra hungry it is probably for good reason so eat. Just make sure you stick to healthy wholesome foods which will supply much needed vitamins and nutrients along with the calorie replenishment.

2- Feeling Unmotivated. A general lack of lust for doing is another key symptom to keep a check on. This is something that can sneak up on you slowly and is almost always down to pushing yourself too hard in one area of your life. Don’t be disheartened by this lack of motivation as it can be a pretty horrible feeling, be assured that the drive will come back in full force once you are properly rested. It is simply your body telling you enough is enough and it is time to slow down, relax and get some down time…….

3- Lower Back Pain. Whilst lower back pain is the most common area to get tense/sore when stressed other problem areas are the shoulders (scapula) and constant headaches. These are the physical symptoms to look out for when overtraining.

I for one can tell pretty quick that I have over exerted myself physically if I wake up with a tender lower back, it is nothing serious just a nagging tenderness in the affected muscle and again is simply a sign from the body to rest. Whilst others may disagree I am convinced that some lower back pain is stress related rather than a structural problem, so If you are suddenly getting tender and stiff muscles it is worth taking a day or two off from training to see if things clear up by themselves.

4- Muscle Twitches. Ever had a twitching eye lid or spasms in your calves? these are often signs of a tired and overworked nervous system. Muscle twitches and spasms are a common complaint of bodybuilders and athletes who put huge strain on their Central Nervous System day in and day out through their training. If you are experiencing any significant muscle twitches or spasms it is worth taking a few days off training and possibly experimenting with a B vitamin complex which can help nourish the nervous system.

5- Sleeping too much or too little. Depending on the individual sleep varies when overtrained, some end up having irritated and restless sleep, while others just can’t stop sleeping. If you find that your sleep patterns have changed significantly in the past few months or they coincide with some extra training or certain stress in your life then it is worth giving yourself a day off. Good sleep is hugely important to recovery so it is worth trying to get it right.

With all the stresses of modern day life very few of us can get away with a overly packed training schedule on top of our normal commitments (work, family etc…) This is leading to more and more overtraining, or to be put simply being run down from overexerting ourselves in the gym. Sports and exercise are tools to revitalise and refresh, as soon as we feel things going the other way it is time to unwind and take some time off.


  1. Lily says

    Excellent article!
    This past week that is precisely what I did to myself, and I am feeling it. Pretty much everything described herein. I definitely need to slow down. Great article I will post the link on my FB page I think more people need to read it.

    Thanks a bunch for your insight!

  2. Matt Joseph says

    I recently had to check myself down after a few weeks of very heavy strength training. I find that sometimes going a bit lighter and getting in some aerobics for a week helps a lot with recovery.

  3. Demond Thompson says

    Wow! I believe that I’ve had all these symptoms for the last couple of weeks. I am not one to rest, but I guess I need it. :) Thanks for the article and now off to rest!

  4. Deb says

    All the symptoms you mentioned are also symptoms of depression so take care to diagnose yourself carefully or see a doctor.

  5. David says

    Great post about a real issue that pops up all the time at the gym. I am a personal trainer and occasionally you meet a person who is a little over zealous about achieving their fitness goals and they start over training. Some other key issues to look for when over training is your strength could actually decrease when training too much and you could open yourself up for injury. Remember the body needs to heal and mend to help you grow stronger and more fit. Keep chasing your fitness goals but if you are a person who over trains at the gym remember that ‘Rome was not built in a day’.

  6. Cynt says

    Great article! Thanks so much for posting this one … I learned a few things that will definitely help me with my exercise program.


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