Are You Overtraining? Lets Prevent This From Happening! By Ivan Nikolov
When you went to bed last night, the plan was to go to the gym the next day morning. What happened when you woke up this morning? Why are you still at home? Do you feel worn out? No energy? No desire for resistance training or cardio?
Thinking about physical work makes you feel even more fatigued...
May be the reason why you feel this way is -- you are overtrained. Trust me I know first hand how this feels. With so many years of weights training and competition behind my back I've gone through that quite a few times myself.
We get in an overtraining state after prolonged training stress coupled with impaired ability to recover properly. With other words when we train hard for longer periods of time but we don't give our bodies the needed time to recover, we risk to become overtrained.
This always happens to me when, for some reason I can't stop training and take the required time away. For example I will be close to a competition or a photo shoot and can't even think of lying off workouts.
Usually I can tell with a pretty good level of certainty when I start slipping into the state of overtraining.
I know the signs: elevated resting heart rate, mood swings, pain in the muscles and joints (especially in the upper thigh muscles), sudden loss of strength, no desire for weights lifting, decreased sleep times, lose of muscle mass, feeling irritable... I can go on and on.
I'm sure the signs of overtraining are well known to almost every athlete. But how can you tell that you are nearing this condition?
It is a well-known fact that the levels of testosterone and cortisol change when an athlete starts exhibiting the above mentioned signs. The testosterone levels drop while the cortisol levels increase. And from there the loss of muscle tissue and strength due to the catabolic state, caused by the increased stress hormones.
Measuring hormone levels over time would be an accurate method, but also expensive and inconvenient. Thatís why I want to discuss other, more practical methods for overtraining detection.
Currently there isn't absolutely precise method to easily forecast overtraining. This is due to several reasons. One example: each person has a different threshold for the amount of training load and life-induced stress. So, what causes me to overtrain might be easily tolerable for you.
There are two methods that can be used to prognosticate overtraining, and they both require heart rate frequency measuring.
The first was based on a study, published in the "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" (vol. 26(5), p. S65, 1994). The Finnish researcher Professor Heikki Rusko determined a way to predict when an overtraining condition is approaching.
The method: Lie down and stay still for 10 min. Stand up and wait 90 sec. Start counting your hear beats from the 90th to the 120th second. Double the result to get the one-minute hart rate.
You have to do that every day for a period of time - it is determined that signs of overtraining develop in a two-week period.
You also have to do it during the same time of the day, and at the same temperature and humidity levels in the room. Also you shouldn't be under any heart rate altering substances, like caffeine for example.
Professor Ruskin actually suggests measuring the number of heart beats twice - 15 sec. after you stand up and then from the 90th sec. as already described. However, according to him the most drastic changes in the heart rate occur between the 90th and the 120th sec.
Thatís why I personally would only do the 90-120 sec. test. But if you feel you want to do both then you need to count the 12th to the 18th sec. first, which result you multiply by 10 to get the one-minute rate.
So, if your heart rate increased with more than 10 sec. per a minute, compared to the levels when you weren't overtrained, thatís a good sign that you start slipping into the overtraining state.
Another way to test if your resting heart rate is increasing is to run on a treadmill at a steady pace and at a set speed. Again you have to do that for a period of one to two weeks under the same conditions as described for the previous method.
If after running for 10 min your heart rate has increased with more than 10 beats per minute, compared to normal, thatís a good sign to back off for a while.
How long to stay away from intense physical exercise depends on the time, during which you have been overtrained. The longer you've been in that condition, the longer the break has to be in order for your body and nervous system to recover.
Thatís right. The nervous system is where the process of overtraining possibly starts, and itís certainly the system that needs the longest time to get back to normal.
A good rule of thumb is don't go back in the gym if you don't feel like you have the desire to start working out again.
I ought to warn you though. don't confuse the recovery from overtraining with laziness. It is easy to get out of normal routine and start feeling comfortable not doing what you're supposed to do - resistance and cardio training.
To wrap this up I'd say if you think you are nearing overtraining, consider doing one or both of the tests, described above.
If you think that the signs of overtraining are already present, it is probably too late to start the tests. The reason being your heart rate is already elevated and even if you started you wouldn't know your normal one-minute rates to compare against.
Overtraining is a tough condition, which can keep you away from workouts for long periods of time. That is why itís important that you know how to detect it, so that you can take the necessary measures before itís too late.
And too late means you are already set back weeks if not months. So be smart about it. Prevent it.