Signs of Overtraining

Working out and training is vital to overall health and if you are trying to reach a certain goal. Whether it is losing weight, building muscle, or training for a 5k or iron man, all of these goals and events require training. However, there is such a thing as overtraining where you demand more from your body than what it is capable of doing.

When showing signs of overtraining, your body slowly shuts down, and essentially not reaching those goals you were training for in the first place.

Next, we will explain those signs and how to detect them and find solutions to them along the way:

  • Altered resting heart rate
    Overtraining can be key if your resting heart rate is faster or slower than normal. Due to overtraining, your heart is working more than it can, therefore compensating its beat and rhythm at rest. Resting heart rate of 110 beats per minute or higher or 45 beats per minute or lower can raise some concern. Dial back the training or see your healthcare professional.  
  • Insatiable thirst
    Insatiable thirst or dehydration is due to increased gym time/overtraining because our muscles are being overworked and start breaking down its own protein for energy, thus using more water in the process leading to dehydration.
  • Extended muscle soreness
    Muscle soreness is normal a day or two after a good workout; however, any soreness lasting longer than 3 days usually means the muscles are being overworked and need to take a break.
  • Restlessness
    Sleep and rest is a vital part of building and repairing muscle. However, sleep may be altered when you are overtraining from the overproduction of stress hormones preventing you from sleeping and resting properly, thus not giving your muscles the proper time to recover
  • Altered moods and personality changes
    A byproduct of restlessness, mood and personality changes may occur because your body is overworking itself. Stress hormones are in full swing, muscles are sore, no sleep can lead to aggressiveness, irritable, and even depressed feelings. When feeling these symptoms, it may mean you are overtraining.
  • Frequent sickness
    In the process of overtraining, your body is in a continuous catabolic state which decreases immunity, therefore increasing the chances for sickness.
  • Decreased focus
    When you work out, you usually have a job to do or a goal in mind. When your body is tired, stressed, and sore, you may lose focus; therefore, turning gym hour into social hour.
  • Increased injury
    Not giving your body proper rest to build its muscle, you run the risk of injury due to weak muscles and overall body.
  • Decreased motivation and self-esteem
    When you have a sense of accomplishment from the gym, a person sometimes runs into the mindset of more is better. When they fall into this mindset, when they do not have the results they want, they lose that motivation to keep pushing further, or on the flip side, push even harder to compensate for the “lack of results”.
  • Halted progress
    When proper rest days and periods are incorporated into a workout program, muscle builds over time. However, when you are constantly training, the body is tearing down even further to compensate for the lack of rest. The body and muscles need time to rest and recover for maximum results.


Incorporating at least 2-3 days of rest each week is vital for muscle recovery and growth and really, preventing burnout and the aforementioned symptoms. Another solution may be to reduce the volume or intensity for some of your workouts each week. Instead of doing 5 sets of a certain exercise at 150% effort, dial it back to 3 sets at 70% effort. This way, it connects the mind and muscle to maximize results. Making sure you have proper fluid and food intake is also key in repairing muscles and preventing dehydration. By doing so, you give your body the essential nutrients it needs to keep going. Lastly, after finishing a tough program over a period of time, if you need a little extra relaxation and really just want to treat yourself, think about getting a professional massage to smooth out all of the knots.

Working out and training are good and healthy things that we all can incorporate into our daily lives. However, if we want to reach goals, we must work smarter, not harder. Incorporate rest days and stretching into your workout programs. If you start feeling the above symptoms, dial it back, take a rest, and if it becomes serious, see your healthcare professional. 


Written by: Matthew Schreder, Program Director for Health & Wellness at the Tri-City YMCA


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