You are eager to improve your vertical jump. So, you invest in a good training guide. You follow the exercises. In fact, you do more exercises than recommended. It is tough work, but you are seeing results so you keep it up. Then, something happens. Instead of seeing 1 inch, 2 inch, 5 inch gains on your vertical jump, you plateau. Soon you can barely reach your original jump height.
This scenario above describes a classic example of overtraining, something which almost all beginner athletes experience at some point. Overtraining can be defined simply as “training too long without giving your body time to recuperate.” It is a bit more complex than this though.
The Stages of Overtraining
It is normal to feel tired after training. If you aren’t tired, then you probably aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. But, experienced athletes know that they need to give their bodies enough time (and proper nutrition) to recover from the workout. If not, they go into the overreaching stage.
If you continue training without giving your body time to recuperate, your body is going to send you all sorts of warning signs that you need to rest. You will feel angry and moody. You will feel pains in your body. Your blood pressure skyrockets and your heart is beating hard, even when not working out.
3. Overtraining Syndrome
If you don’t listen to the signs your body gave you during the overreaching stage, then you will fall victim to overtraining syndrome. In order to protect your body from the stress you are putting upon it, your body releases cortisol – an adrenal hormone known as the “stress hormone.” This hormone is associated with our “fight or flight” instinct and is released when our bodies sense danger is going on. It puts your body into survival mode. You start breaking down muscle mass for energy. Blood sugar levels skyrocket and protein synthesis diminishes. Your blood pressure rises, you have trouble sleeping, and your immune system suffers.
This is the exact opposite of what you want from training!
Warning: Overtraining is Easy to Do
You might think you aren’t at risk of overtraining because you take a break between workouts. But, this isn’t always enough. Overtraining syndrome doesn’t occur after just one of two workouts. It usually occurs from a progressive buildup. For example, you don’t get enough sleep after a workout one day. A few days later, you eat junk food instead of healing foods. The next week, you put in a few extra training sessions. All the damage eventually builds up and leads to overtraining syndrome.
It can take weeks or even months to recuperate from the damage done by overtraining. During this time, you won’t be able to train intensely, so you obviously are going to hurt your results. For this reason, it is very important that you pay attention to any of the signs that you are overtraining and give your body some extra TLC and nutrition before getting back to your workout.
Signs of Overtraining
- Weight loss
- Reduced results
- Changes to sex drive
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Persistent fatigue
- Increased heart rate