So many of us love training and enjoy pushing ourselves with high intensity, strenuous workouts day in, day out. But how long will it be before your body is unable to continue to withstand the punishment you are putting it through? How long until it leads to some form of injury and an inability to train or compete at the level you want to? The good news is there are steps you can take can to make sure you don't become a victim of overtraining. Whether you are into strength training, powerlifting, crossfit, endurance training or Zumba if you follow these guidelines you will go a long way to helping to prevent unnecessary injuries as well as improving your performance.
What you put into your body is one of the biggest factors in how you adapt and recover from your training. You need to think of food as fuel. If you are not fueling your body with the enough of correct nutrients your training will suffer for it. If you are doing lots of strength training and not increasing size or strength the chances are you aren’t eating enough.
Similarly if you are doing lots of training but not losing the weight you want to, you may need to take a look at your diet. Are you eating to much? Are you eating or little?. A sports dietician can help you with some individualised eating advice. It may make a world of difference.
This includes good quality sleep. You should aim to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. this means not just laying in bed for 3 hours watching TV then sleeping for 5 hours. It must be 7-8 hours of actual sleeping time. Sleep is when your body can really get down to the business of repairing itself.
Plan to also include ‘rest days’ into your training program. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you do nothing all day, some form of gentle or low intensity activity (walk, easy row/ride, play with the kids, etc.) is recommended.
Just like rest days, incorporating recovery strategies into your training can be very beneficial to preventing injury as well as improving performance. Doing some routine maintenance on your body can make a world of difference to your flexibility, mobility and strength. So be sure to incorporate regular, if not daily, stretching, foam rolling, self massage, rehab/prehab exercises & if you can afford it a professional massage every now and then. A combination of all of these will work well and lead to a noticeable difference in your training.
Not Every Session Has To Be A Max Effort
You don’t need to leave the gym feeling like you have been hit by a truck every time you go. If you want to see big improvements aim for 3 hard sessions per week and 3-4 easier sessions that you can use to improve your technique, address any weakness or areas for improvement and just generally move.
The best analogy I have heard for this from my good friend Bobby Maximus is to think of your body as a bank, every hard session is going to be withdrawing credits from that bank. If you don’t repay the the debt with enough sleep, recovery & rest eventually the credits in the bank will run out and you will be left bankrupt - tired, fatigued, over trained and potentially injured.
There is no such thing as overtraining, just a lack of recovery leading to fatigue and injury.
If you take your training seriously pay attention to the little things as they will make the biggest differences in the long run.