Stick a Fork In You {Overtraining}

Believe me, I get it. You feel like you should be burning every calorie you can when you have the chance, maybe even when you don’t have the chance. (Pushups during conference calls, anyone?) You feel guilty all the time because you eat too much, drink too much and sit at your desk too much. You might as well balance it all out by training too much as well, right?

Wrong.

A few weeks ago I wrote a somewhat rant-y post about how it’s important to keep your priorities in check when you’re busy. For most people that means skipping some TV or Facebook time in order to squeeze in a workout instead of throwing in the towel until life slows down {which generally doesn’t happen}.

Now it’s time to pick on those of us type-A fitness addicts at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Side Effects of Overtraining

We {myself included} don’t always have our priorities in check either. When I feel overwhelmed with work, motherhood, relationships, family, housework and life in general I want to train more. And more. And more.

Yes, when I’m stressed I want to lift heavy things, do some kettlebell snatches and go for a run. I used to turn to junk food when I was stressed so it’s certainly an improvement, but still doesn’t mean it’s always healthy.

Overtraining can lead to injuries, low energy and hormonal imbalances among other issues. You may get lucky and avoid all of these things for awhile, but chronic overtaining almost always catches up with you at some point.

Think about it this way. If you’re already stressed out about work and taking care of your family and then you add excessive training with minimal recovery on top of that, you’re setting yourself up for a burnout. Keep in mind that training is a stress on the body even though it might be a de-stressor for your mind. Yes, workouts are a good/healthy type of stress, but it’s still stress and that means in order to balance it out you need proper rest, recovery and fuel.

Are you getting in 3-5 training sessions a week? If the answer is yes, that’s probably enough and you may want to sit down to think about your priorities. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself in other ways, like getting enough sleep, eating properly and spending time with family and friends.

Making Time for Family

In summary, if you feel overwhelmed and burnt out, but you are making time for 7+workouts each week {I’m seeing lots of people doing double sessions and then complaining about being tired}, you might be better off using some of those training times to take care of other business or just to rest. Not to mention, you’ll have an opportunity to make those workouts quality workouts instead of those crappy punch-the-clock-again type of workouts you’re probably doing when training too often.

Once you get over your obsession with working out every single day and second of your life my guess is you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results you get from cutting back a bit.

I’ve seen it myself. Since switching from training 6-7 days a week to 4-5 days a week I’ve seen improvements in my body composition, my strength and even my motivation/excitement to train. I get excited about my training sessions and my rest days. I know that if I push it hard a few times a week and feel like taking it easy during my other training times that’s okay {and beneficial} too.

With that I’m off to try and take my own advice. Today is squat day and tomorrow I rest. I’m really learning to appreciate glorious rest days for the good they do my body. If you have a hard time sitting still like I do go for a light walk on your rest days or do some mobility work to stay moving without stressing your body. Or just chase a two year old around all day…that will keep you busy!

Chasing a Toddler Around for Exercise

What side of the spectrum are you on? Do you stop training when you’re busy and stressed or do you find you increase your training to try and deal with the stress?

Comments

  1. Yes,that what I feel – guilty all the time because I eat too much…But was never train too much, have to start doing this. Like your blog!
    elena recently posted..Buckwheat

  2. I relate to this post in a million and one ways :) Teaching at the gym catches up with me often and I have to blow the whistle and call a rest day. It is ALWAYS worth it!!

  3. Um hi…just emailed you. This was exactly what I needed today. Exactly. You are RIGHT. There is a definitive line between working out because we love it, to doing too much. That free hour can be spent doing other things…like – gasp – ME time, FRIEND time, FAMILY time. Or, just not overscheduled. Thank you for the needed reminder!
    jolene recently posted..Friday thoughts: where to go from here.

  4. Did you write this for me??? :)

    I definitely savor my workouts more when I’m stressed. That rush gives me a clear head and focus that I just can’t get anywhere else. I might be taking on a little bit too much right now and I’m not quite in pre-pregnancy shape yet though – so I’m really having to tell myself that I need to TONE IT DOWN a little. There’s no need to risk injuring myself! Rest days are also SO important. Everything in moderation, right?
    Michelle recently posted..All The Partying

    • Hi Lady!!!! I did not write this for you, but I know your kind. Wait…I am your kind. A busy working mom who wants to stay active and loves a good endorphin rush. Glad to hear you are working on keeping things under control. You WILL get better results and feel better long term. XO
      Amanda Perry recently posted..Stick a Fork In You {Overtraining}

  5. I am definitely on the end of the spectrum that trains more when the stress piles up. This summer I was studying for the bar exam and my only outlet was CrossFit. I even started doing 2 sessions per day for a while. Now that the exam is over and the routine long days of studying are over, I find that now after workouts, my body is taking longer to recover. Not sure if all that stress is now making it’s way to the surface or I was overdoing it before. Nevertheless, I’ve learned the importance of rest days. While I don’t like true off-days, I’ve come to realize that my body can only handle so much and know when I need to leave the weights alone for the day and maybe settle for some shorter intense cardio/bodyweight movements just to get the blood flowing.

    • Hi Nick! Thanks for commenting. I totally hear you…I hate true off days, but I definitely do take them now. Then again, even off days I don’t really sit much besides during nap time for my son. I am always running around with him, making dinner, doing laundry, etc. I realize sometimes at dinner that I haven’t sat once all day. ;-)

      I do find that just taking a walk sometimes helps appease that urge to train just so I can hold off for a great workout the next day. :)
      Amanda Perry recently posted..Stick a Fork In You {Overtraining}

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