How to avoid overtraining

Have you ever experienced like you have not just stopped getting results but also have lost progress towards fitness aims? You can be the victim of a familiar condition which is recognized as overtraining. Read the article to find out how to avoid overtraining.

Also read: How to overcome running fatigue

What is overtraining?

Overtraining is defined by a collection of physical, behavioral and emotional signs also known as “exhaustion” or feeling “worn out”. This is different from the daily routine work and post-workout fatigue that is common. Overtraining is usually progressive exhaustion that continues even after the recovery time.

Overtraining happens when the intensity and frequency of working out go beyond the ability of the body to recover and rest. During an over-trained condition, athletes feel a skid of negative symptoms. Those symptoms range from loss of motivation and muscle atrophy, to reduced functioning of the immune system and irritability.

How to identify overtraining?

You may ask yourself: “Am I overtraining?” It is difficult to identify and test overtraining as many runners believe that too much current fatigue is a usual part of working out.

There is also no overtraining test for example a clinical diagnosis or blood test to identify overtraining. And it is very specific for every person, so one runner may show different overtraining symptoms than another runner. One thing anyone can do is recognizing the common signs of overtraining, then rest and recover.

What are the signs and symptoms of overtraining?

How to overcome running fatigue

Overtraining is a complicated subject, thinking it is feasible to isolate certain muscle groups and work regularly on a daily basis where you train all days without doing any damage. Some bodybuilders carry out effective five day splits with no negative impacts.

The difficulty comes when people start doing high-stress lifts and distance training. They won’t avoid overtraining for sure. They are not allowing themselves adequate rest. Overtraining can lead to problems and side effects.

Overtraining and heart rate

Noticing your heart rate is very valuable when moving towards tracking of the performance. The range of a healthy resting heart rate is 60 to 100 bpm and frequently, the robust you are, your resting heart rate will be lower. 

If you are overtraining you might see that your resting heart rate will be 10 to 15 bpm higher than usual heart rate. You will also find that this is also the case if your body is fighting off the early stages of an illness.

Soreness of muscles

Soreness of muscles is frequent when training. Although, if you are experiencing muscle soreness for more than 72 hours then you need to schedule a break as this could be an overtraining symptom.  If you are aiming to build muscle then you need recovery if your muscles aren’t recovering it will have a negative impact on muscle gains

Overtraining insomnia and sleep quality

Trying to get to sleep even though you have hit the gym hard and you feel exhausted? This can be linked to hormonal and nervous systems working in overload. Avoid eating late, sugary food (or other stimulants), and plan regular rest days until you’re back into a regular sleeping pattern.

Overtraining impact on immune system

This is your body mode of telling you to rest because you are overtraining and it is starting to impact on your immune system. Overtraining can affect the immune system of person doing excessive workout.

Emotional changes

Due to the strain put on the body during working out, hormone levels can be affected. It is not extraordinary to find that you experience some emotional changes containing a lack of concentration on work, low confidence, poor enthusiasm, or even hopelessness.

Overtraining can cause injuries

If overtraining causes injuries in your body and not healing, then this could mean your body cannot deal with the pressure due to your training routine. It is absolutely very important to rest so your body regains its strength.

Reduced performance due to overtraining

One of the simplest ways to mark overtraining is to track your exercises. You may have 3-4 sessions in a row where your cardio workouts are slow, you cannot boost the weight you are lifting for a few weeks or if you fail to complete sets. These could mean that you are overdoing it.

Other things to believe that can be linked to training performance are alterations in the diet or, conversely, not changing your diet to fit your training phase. Taking rest does not mean you are weak or unfit. Rest is the key to improve performance and fitness, and avoid overtraining despite what your training is.

How much working out is too much?

Strong man lifting dumbbell

With all of this in mind, how much should you be working out to avoid overtraining? Depending on your goals and your routine, we would advise working out 4 days per week on average. This gives you three rest days to enjoy, which you’ll need if you’re performing heavy compound lifts on your workout days.

If you are more of a fixed condition cardio and isolation lift trainer, you can train more often. This is because your body will need less time to get well. 5 day split routines are frequent, which gives you 2 days off.

Subsequently, you can also try 3 day split workouts if you exercise intensely.

Eventually, how often you workout depends on your aims. If you lift hard and heavy to build mass and strength, your body will require time to recover. Both your muscles and the central nervous system require time. Reduce the number of sessions, train hard when you are in the gym, and let your body recover.

Kinds of overtraining

There is not just one particular kind of overtraining. There are 3 kinds of overtraining:

  1. Overload Training
  2. Overreaching
  3. Overtraining Syndrome

Overload training

Overload training is the first level of overtraining which mostly all athletes and bodybuilders experience. It is hard training followed by short term tiredness with sufficient time given for muscle recovery. However, if a person exercises hard and does not give their body enough time to recover, their body enters into the overreaching stage.


Overreaching is the second stage of overtraining. Performance is hampered, and might not include other characteristic stress associated with mental and physical symptoms. Overreaching might be recovered from within two to three weeks duration. But if the intensity and time of the working out are not decreased, the body moves down the last stage of overtraining.

Overtraining syndrome

The overtraining syndrome is the final stage of overtraining. What most people are referred to when they talk about overtraining? It is characterized as a decrease in performance combined with stress-related mental and physical problems that can range in severity from mild to severe.

This is the stage where excessive amounts of cortisol are released. High cortisol levels is actually the complete opposite of what bodybuilders want. It tears down muscle in the body, reduces protein synthesis, increases protein breakdown, raises blood sugar levels, reduces growth hormone release, weakens the immune system, disrupts sleep, raises blood pressure, and increases blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

How to avoid overtraining?

By balanced diet

A balanced diet is the most significant to prevent overtraining. This includes the correct amount of calories from food and lots of water to maintain your body to be hydrated.

Supplements and other nutritional alterations have not been confirmed to aid in the prevention of overtraining anymore than a balanced diet wok. Iron is the most frequent deficiency, particularly in females. Other nutrients that commonly lack are calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Consume adequate carbohydrates

The study shows that enough carbohydrate intakes are necessary to prevent overtraining. Carbohydrates are obligatory for muscle recovery and energy, and when absent from a diet, can root your body to enter a condition of muscle catabolism in which your body utilizes muscle mass for energy.

Post workout diet

Your body is in the greatest requirement for nutrition just after a workout to be able to begin its recovery procedure. The best way of post-workout diet is to drink a shake which consists of high whey protein and carbohydrates, followed by a small meal one hour later.

Without the right post-workout diet, not only will work out progress, but you will also avoid overtraining. And in case you already overtrained, it will set in unbelievably faster.

Proper rest

Without proper rest, people can simply go into a condition of overtraining. Time outside of the gym is just as significant, if not more significant, than time in the gymnasium.

Several people who experience overtraining make a general blunder: they work out even more hard, pushing themselves deeper towards the overtraining. When outcomes reduce and performance decreases, it is best to take some time out of the gym and reconsider your plan. Begin by taking 2 days off completely.

Set your restrictions

After an hour, the level of testosterone in your body starts to immerse and levels of the stress hormone cortisol start to increase. Because testosterone is responsible for maintenance and muscle growth and cortisol can be the reason to put on weight, this is the complete reverse of what you want to take place. Marathon of three hours exercises is a certain way to boost your likelihood of overtraining.

Sleep more

In adding up to taking time off work out, getting an appropriate amount of sleep each night can aid you to recover fast and in repairing muscle tissue. The amount of rest differs for each person and depends on training, but to be secure, plan for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.


Getting a deep tissue massage can undo up tight muscles, augment blood flow, and liberate the body of built-up lactic acid and other poisons. Regular massages will maintain your body function optimally.

Set priorities straight

Changing the intensity of your workout in preplanned stages known as periodization can assist avert overtraining by allowing your body to recover, as your muscles cure during a less intense time, so set the priorities.

Reduce the load

There is a factor called “the law of diminishing returns” which is relevant for many things in the world, and it also applies to weightlifting and cardio. In terms of bodybuilding, the law states that for every unit of work you do (sets, reps), the less benefit you will receive for each additional set.

For example, if you gain 3 points of muscle for doing 1 set of pullups, doing another set will only give you 2 more additional points. You now have 5 points of muscle, and you decide to do another set. The 3rd set only yields you 1 additional muscle point, so you are now up to 6 points.

Following this same principle, doing the 4th set will yield no benefit. Doing a 5th set onwards will start yielding negative benefits, your points will actually be taken away.

Now, these aren’t hard numbers, they will differ from person to person, and it is up to you to decide when you can’t benefit anymore from doing additional sets, reps, or exercises.

Run your splits in a sensible way

Functional movement training

It is very feasible to weight lift for 4 to 5 days a week and not overtrain. The important is managing your splits in a sensible way. You would not get far without overtraining if you work your whole body every day four times a week. Though if you dedicate one day to arms and abs, one to back and chest, one to legs, and one to shoulders and traps, then you will avoid overtraining.

Some can even do a two day split with no overtraining, which would be incredible. For example, upper body one day, lower body another day. Doing that two times a week permits your upper body to get better while working your lower body.

How to recover from overtraining?

Luckily, recovering from overtraining is simple. Take a full week off training to let your body a lot of time to rest. Spend a week working good nutritional principles, ensuring you get sufficient sleep and trying to lower your stress levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone and can severely inhibit your cure time so relax more. Gentle work out like flexibility work and Yoga can assist encourage rest.


Prevention of overtraining is very important in your progress. Overtrain might stop you, or slow you down from reaching your fitness goals. That is why you should pay attention on how to avoid overtraining so you could get the top results.

Also read: What causes nausea after working out and how to stop it?