If you are a hard core fitness junkie, you will most likely feel that unless you kill every workout, each day – if not twice a day – you are just not doing it right. With the growing popularity of high-intensity exercise, there is an increasing number of people joining in bootcamps, crossfit and other forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) programmes. So we run, cycle, lift, jump and push ourselves to the point of exhaustion in our never-ending quest to attain the perfect body. Could you be hindering your progress, weight loss and muscle gains – and undoing any good work that any personal trainer could ever do with you – by clinging to this notion? How much exercise is too much exercise?

What part does the endocrine system play in training?

The endocrine system plays a key role in exercise, and it is important to understand its function for you to get the correct hormone response so you can achieve your goal.

Firstly let’s take a look at cortisol. This hormone is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, both mental and physical (yes that includes all forms of exercise, both aerobic and weight training). Its main function is to maintain homeostasis within the body.

When there are prolonged, elevated levels of cortisol in the body, the following occurs:

  • Muscle wasting,
  • An increase in abdominal fat,
  • Water retention,
  • Impairment of the immune system,
  • Suppression of anabolic hormones, for example testosterone, insulin and growth hormone, and
  • Memory problems.

To right your cortisol levels, get enough rest between exercise sessions. Do this and any personal trainer will be proud of you!

Dangers of too much exercise

Too much exercise could wreak havoc with your diet

In many instances, overtraining is often accompanied by a diet that is so low in calories that the body is unable to recover from exercise. Your body also will not be able to recover fully from exercise if you do not eat enough protein. To correct this, consume glutamine, BCAAs or carbohydrates directly after your workout.

Overtraining could equal more injuries

Another frequent occurrence with overtraining is overstressing muscles, tendons, joints and bones. This could lead to muscle tears, tendon rupture, joint degeneration and stress fractures.

People who increase the intensity of their training suddenly are also at risk of suffering from these injuries. This means that it is imperative that a strength balance be maintained between opposing muscle groups and overall conditioning be included in any training programme.

So how can you tell if you are doing too much exercise?

Have a look at the list of symptoms below:

  1. Continued muscle soreness  and fatigue,
  2. Elevated resting heart rate (RHR),
  3. Increased incidence of infection,
  4. Frequent injuries,
  5. Irritability,
  6. Insomnia,
  7. Depression,
  8. Continually feeling run down,
  9. Decreased strength and performance, and
  10. Absence of menstrual cycle.

It’s a personal trainer’s job to make sure that their clients do not overtrain. Want to help people see the dangers of too much exercise? You will learn this – and a lot more about persona training – on Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Personal Training Certificate. Click here for more information.