In order to build mass and increase strength, you’ve got to train hard and go heavy. In addition, you need a periodized training schedule whereby muscle groups are worked to exhaustion using different and varying movements. All this requires effort, sweat and enthusiasm. There’s nothing like seeing and feeling those results to spur you on to greater success (Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko) 

While there are lots of “ups” that go with weight training (bigger muscles, that endorphin pump, super- man strength, improved self-esteem, etc.), there is also a downside. There are those occasional plateaus, where you just can’t seem to grow no matter how hard you work. There is the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that kicks your butt when you tackle a new training regime. All these are common complaints of those who work out religiously, and all can be overcome with time, patience and rest.

If you’re always sore, your joints ache, you can’t sleep at night, and you feel an overall malaise about going to the gym, you may be over training. This can prove to be a more serious matter than the issues discussed above. Overdoing it to the point of severe exhaustion, even risking injuries, is a common and serious problem which all fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders must address when it occurs, before it beats them. There are some common symptoms that indicate that you just may be overtraining:

  • Muscle and joint pain which persists for more than two or three days without showing improvement
  • Elevated heart rate that continues and causes you agitation even after you have finished working out
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty being able to fall asleep and or interrupted, poor sleep patterns
  • A compromised immune system that causes you to suffer from, headaches, catch colds and other infections, loss of weight and even depression which causes you to withdraw from the gym and other social situations that you used to enjoy
  • Weakened and compromised tendons and reduced muscle strength, all of which make you a prime candidate for muscle sprains and strains

Exercise is supposed to enhance your quality of life. When it controls your thought processes, causing you to over-train or train foolishly disregarding the need for rest and proper exercise form, then you need to take a break.

There are some important measures you should take if you feel like you may be overtraining. First, take an exercise break, allowing your body to rest and heal for a few days or even weeks. Secondly, seek medical attention for any muscle or joint pain that has persisted over time. Never ignore pain; it is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Finally, if you can’t take a complete break, pull back on your exercise routine by varying your intensity, taking time to warm up, stretch, drink water and cool down after your session.

Exercise is beneficial to your health and longevity. Enjoy the results and the attention it garners you. Just be sure not to overdo it by risking illness and injury which are counter -productive to your goals and dreams!