Regular workouts are supposed to increase your muscle mass and decrease your body fat. Some people ramp it up too much especially when they start a new training regimen. Overdoing your workouts can actually lead to diminished strength and increased body fat—your body’s way of begging for a break. While your body can handle a particularly tough workout, it also needs time to recover from the stress overload.
What’s the best way to recover from that particularly tough workout?
- A day or two of rest followed by a light bout of exercise. The recovery after a workout is just as important as the workout itself.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep. Sleep also plays a key factor in recovering. Did you know that our muscles repair itself during sleep so make sure to get at least 8 hours each night.
- Good nutrition is also key: Think lean protein (fish, skinless chicken breast, tofu), whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
If you’re overtraining, here are 10 ways your body will let you know if you’re headed for exercise burnout.
1. Decreased performance. A drop in your workout performance is one of the earliest signs of overload.
2. Disinterest in exercise. A significant decrease in motivation or enjoyment of the activity can be a major sign of burnout.
3. Mood changes. Depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and irritability are common when your body is overstressed physically. Those same stress hormones you release when you’re emotionally stressed are also released when you’re physically overloaded.
4. Delayed recovery time. Persistent muscle soreness that lasts for hours or days after your workout is a sure sign you need more rest.
5. Elevated resting heart rate. When you put more stress on the heart, it has to work a lot harder, an increase in your normal resting heart rate, say, from 50 beats per minute to 65 beats per minute, could indicate that you’re placing excessive stress on your body.
6. Fatigue. Mental or physical grogginess is a hallmark sign of overtraining.
7. Insomnia: Being in a state of overload often comes with disrupted sleep patterns, so instead of getting that much-needed rest, you become restless and can’t fall asleep.
8. Diminished appetite: A decrease in appetite can occur in the middle to later stages of overtraining, and goes hand in hand with feelings of fatigue and lack of motivation. By slowing down bodily processes like metabolism, the body attempts to force a reduction in its workload.
9. Fat gain. If you’ve lost weight but noticed an increase in body fat, you could be in the later stages of exercise overload. The body responds to prolonged stress by elevating levels of stress hormones, including cortisol, over time this will lead to increased storage of adipose tissue, as well as inhibit steroid-like hormones that normally help increase muscle. A decrease in muscle mass can cause you to shed a few pounds, but this isn’t a good thing since it means your body’s less efficient at burning fat.
10. Weakened immune system. Don’t try to push through that exercise funk, or you’ll keep sliding down—to a weakened immune system, inflammation, and outright injury. Not a good thing. Prolonged overtraining can take weeks, even months, to recover from, and can put your health at risk. Chronic inflammation, for example, has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Bottom line: Nurture your body and give it a much-deserved break when it needs to rest after that tough workout.