Blast Off: Are you overtraining?

Sometimes too much exercise can be a bad thing, especially if your workouts are always intense.

Sometimes too much exercise can be a bad thing, especially if your workouts are always intense. Your body needs time to recover in order to perform better at the next workout. If you’re not giving your body a break, you will eventually reach a plateau or, even worse, notice a decline in your strength and endurance. To ensure you’re not over-training your body, always give your body adequate recovery time between tough sessions.

With every workout, your body goes through a cycle of performance. At the very beginning of your workout, your performance levels are at their best. If you are training with the right loads for the right duration, your performance levels should be lower at the end of your session.  After the workout, your body goes into a recovery period — also called compensation — where your performance levels return to normal.  With sufficient recovery, your body will not only compensate, it will supercompensate, during which time your performance will actually increase.

If you do hard workout after hard workout without sufficient recovery time, your body will never have enough time to recover sufficiently to supercompensate, which means you can plateau or decrease performance. To ensure your performance continues to improve over time, organize your workouts systematically over the week to balance stress (high-intensity workouts) with recovery (low-intensity workouts). Ensure that you have at least one full day of full recovery or passive recovery (walking or other low-intensity and low-impact exercise) during the week. Avoid doing two hard workouts back-to-back and try to perform an easy workout the day after your hard workouts.

If you are training too frequently or too intensely, you might be over-training. Signs can include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, weight loss, chronic muscle soreness, loss of appetite, an elevated resting heart rate, decreased performance, delayed recovery time from training, and intolerance to training. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor and determine the best recovery solution. If you are working out five or six days a week, try the following training schedule to ensure your body is getting sufficient recovery time to avoid over-training and improve performance — Sunday: recovery; Monday: hard strength training; Tuesday: easy cardio; Wednesday: moderate strength training; Thursday: moderate cardio; Friday: easy strength; Saturday: low intensity endurance.

Remember, more is not always better. To avoid over-training, alternate between easy and hard workouts, listen to your body, ensure adequate rest, focus on proper nutrition and cross-train to ensure you aren’t always using the same muscle groups. If you need help organizing your training schedule, Fitness 4 Life personal trainers can provide you with a workout calendar to maximize your results. For more information, visit our website at or contact Kate at 250-688-0221 or Hayley at 250-688-0024.

— Jill Andrews, Hayley Wilson and Kate Atkinson