When it comes to volume of exercise, there is a “dose-response relationship”. This means that the more time you spend training, the increased benefits you will achieve. However, there is a tipping point outside which the amount of physical activity which performs can do more harm as opposed to good. This point can be gotten to by one or both of the following two ways:
- Too much exercise without enough recovery, or
- Chronic under fuelling.
This tipping point is known as overtraining syndrome (OTS) and, in short, leads to a decrease in fitness level and possibly injury. Whether you happen to be a man or a woman, you are equally at risk for OTS. This means that recognising the early signs and combating these can prevent harmful fitness and health outcomes.
What is ‘overtraining syndrome’?
Burnout, or overtraining syndrome (OTS), is a condition in which an athlete suffers from fatigue as well as sports performance that is declining. This is despite continuing or increased training. OTS can cause mood alterations, decreased levels of motivation, numerous injuries and even infections. Burnout is seen to be as a result of the physical in addition to emotional stress of training.
OTS occurs when an athlete does not recover properly from training as well as competition. The symptoms of this syndrome are owing to a combination of alterations in hormones, suppression of the immune system (which causes a decrease in the athlete’s ability to fight infection), physical fatigue as well as psychological changes. Risk factors for the athlete include specialising in a single sport, sudden surges in training, involvement in endurance sports, low self-esteem in addition to parental and coaching pressure to perform.
Warning Signs of OTS
Warning signs of OTS and burnout include:
- The young athlete is no longer enjoying performing in the sport.
- The sport is dominating the life of the family.
- The only topic of conversation is the sport being performed by the child.
- Rewards are founded on performance in the sport.
- The young athlete has missed 10% of season but has not consulted a doctor.
- The female athlete is older than 16 years of age and still not menstruating. Alternative, she is dieting just to become a better athlete.
Symptoms of OTS
Symptoms of burnout and OTS include:
- Chronic muscle and joint pain
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate at rest
- Decreased sports performance
- Prolonged recovery time
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Frequent illnesses
- Difficulty completing usual routines
- Reduced school performance
- Personality or mood changes
- Increased anger or irritability
- Sleep disturbances (trouble sleeping or sleeping without feeling refreshed)
What can you do to prevent OTS?
There are loads of methods that you can adopt to safeguard yourself against overdoing it at the gym. This process starts by putting together a training program that works in recovery days. Everyone should have one day completely off from exercise. If you want to exercise, you can go for a light walk. What’s more important than pumping iron seven days a week is to remember that we get our results from our recovery.
If your schedule compels you to train intensively on consecutive days, ideally there should never be more than two hard workout days in a row. Every four to six weeks of exercise should be followed up by a “de-loading phase”. During this phase you should lift half what you usually do or slow your pace and pointedly decrease your typical mileage. These de-loading phases are active recovery weeks in your overall training.
What is active recovery time?
The term ‘active recovery’ refers to the performance of low-intensity exercise after you complete a heavy workout or athletic event. As absurd as it may seem, the best way to recuperate from a marathon or other sporting competition is to exercise at a lower intensity as opposed to remaining still.
Out of the structure of your training, it’s vital to get the most out of your recovery time in between tough workouts. This means stretching, foam rolling, icing, eating protein-rich meals to rebuild muscle tissue, and even meditating to reduce stress.
If you want to learn more about avoiding the pitfalls of overtraining and also become a personal trainer yourself, you should consider going on a personal trainer course. Follow this link for more information.