You are the minority… the elite. When writing these articles I’m not naïve, I’m writing to a specific population, a population that are making an investment in their health, that are open to suggestions and look to improve on a regular basis, because those that don’t care won’t read these articles. Therefore content of articles needs to reflect this fact.
It is likely that you are engaging in physical activity and lifestyle changes in an attempt to improve your health and wellbeing. However when striving for optimal health and performance we (I say we, as I am also a culprit) can have a tendency to become impatient. We have a desire to do more, to be better and to improve at a rate which may be beyond our capabilities. Sometimes this desire can get us in a bit of trouble. The increase in training volume can present excessive stress leading to some adverse symptomology and ultimately a decline in performance and health.
When we experience symptoms as a result of excessive training volume and high levels of stress this can be referred to as ‘over training’ or ‘under recovery’. It is important to identify ‘over training’ as soon as possible in order to reduce stressors on the body and reduce the likelihood of long term detriments to health and wellbeing. So what can everybody look out for? Here are my top 6 (I couldn’t decide on 5!) symptoms associated with too high training volume based on current literature and a whole heap of personal experience:
1.) Being really freakin’ tired! – It’s an obvious one that many often ignore. Feeling excessively physically and mentally tired all the time is not ok. It’s a sign that your body needs to rest and recover.
2.) Achy and sore muscles – Sometimes muscle soreness after periods of high activity is expected, it’s when muscle soreness becomes excessive and persistent over a long period of time that there is particular concern. I’m of the opinion that if you plan correctly, there’s no need to experience any soreness whatever. Slowly progressing training volume will ensure improvement over time without these negative symptoms, which can be particularly problematic when compromising balance and capacity to engage in activity.
3.) Low mood and/or mood swings- High training volume can significantly influence one’s emotional state as well as physical. Overtraining is associated with periods of depressed mood and mood swings so it may be worth lowering your training volume before you fall out with your significant other…. Again.
4.) Poor sleep quality- Although activity can aid sleep, too much stress (both physical and mental) can actually lead to insomnia and poor quality sleep. Therefore if you find yourself taking ages to drop off, or waking up during the night that may well be why.
5.) Decline in performance- Individuals engaging in an excessively high training volume will experience a decline in both mental and physical capabilities. Optimal performance is always the goal and if you notice that your capabilities are worsening despite engagement in progressive training, overtraining may well be a potential explanation.
6.) Frequent coughs and colds- Excessive stress placed upon the body can depress an individual’s immune system, certainly not beneficial for an individual diagnosed with a long term condition! Therefore if you notice that you are regularly picking up coughs and colds then lowering training volume may well be the answer.
So there you have it, the impacts of engaging in too high training volume can be varied in type, extent to which they act and also the duration of which they persist. Usually a reduction in training volume will see symptomology subside and will allow engagement in progressive overload once again, although it’s important to learn from your mistakes and take things a little slower next time around!
Although these symptoms can be a sign of overtraining they can also relate to numerous other factors, in some cases of a serious nature. Therefore as always it’s advised to consult with your doctor if you notice any detrimental symptoms.
Jack Barton (Researcher, Rescon Ltd)