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Paige Waehner

Are You Overdoing It?

By January 26, 2011

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Today's blog post comes courtesy of my husband who, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, started P90X at the beginning of the month. If you don't know, P90X is an extreme strength training program designed to kick your butt (and my review of it is coming soon). The fact that he spent the first 3 weeks of the program walking around with stiff, sore muscles that never seemed to recover (all while shouting unspeakable things at the TV), had us wondering - was he overdoing it?

Clearly a program like that is designed to overload your body in a very specific way, but sometimes it's hard to know if you've gone too far. There are obvious signs - Sharp pain in the joints, pulled muscles that don't allow you to move, much less walk or, worse, something torn or broken. Other times, you might think - I don't feel 100%, but does that mean I should rest or keep going? If I'm sore, should I exercise or skip it?

Even seasoned exercisers struggle with that question because we often don't know how a workout will go until we try it. There are some signs, however, that may mean you're overdoing it:

  • If you find yourself washing your hair by slapping shampoo on the wall and rubbing your head in it (because you can't lift your arms), you overdid it
  • If you can't remember the last time you stood up or sat down...or walked...or moved in any way...or stood motionless without pain of some kind, you may be overdoing it
  • If you can't remember a morning when you woke up feeling fresh, energetic and rested instead of stiff, sore and tired, you might be overdoing it
  • If your 2-year-old child can lap you several times around the block, you might be overdoing it
  • If walking to your car to drive to the gym takes you past your anaerobic threshhold, you might be overdoing it

Being stiff, sore and tired are obvious enough, but you may not realize that overtraining can affect your mood too. If you're cranky, constantly tired, depressed, you're having trouble sleeping or you just feel generally low down and dirty, it's possible you're doing too much. Some of my clients have reported feeling like they're getting sick or feeling hungover, but without a fun night of drinking beforehand.

It never hurts to take a day off if you're not sure. We sometimes worry that taking a day off will throw us completely off track. If that's the case, schedule a workout just to keep you on a routine, but make it light - A slow walk on the treadmill, a long stretching session and a soak in the hot tub.

Learn more ways to notice and avoid overtraining so you can bypass injuries and burn out.

Be sure to share your own experiences. Have you overdone it in the past and, if so, what were the signs? Were you able to bounce back with rest or did you keep going? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

January 26, 2011 at 7:42 am
(1) Mike D'Angelo says:

Great entry, love it! Good info to get out!

January 26, 2011 at 10:47 am
(2) Manya says:

I loved this blog! I’ve been trying to train for a 5K for the last 5 weeks (using the Couch to 5K) program and even though the program is excellent – I wonder if I start to push myself to hard. I’m 250 lbs and started from sedentary and my knees and shins really hurt (during and after). I can always get through the run after a day of rest – but walking is hard and hilarious to watch. My co-workers have a lot of entertainment seeing me hobble around. I’m stretching like crazy and have soaked in epsom salts. My next step is the knee supports. But I’m glad you wrote the article so I can have an informed descision when I need to slow it down. Thanks again!

January 26, 2011 at 11:10 am
(3) Tracy says:

I laughed out loud at the shampooing problem. Happily, I can say I’ve never been that sore.

January 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm
(4) scout09 says:

Yesterday, I didn’t exactly feel like I was overdoing it. Rather, I felt I didn’t have enough fuel in my body for my strength training. I’ve thus decided to do my cardio on an empty stomach, then eat something before I move on to strength training. Great post.

January 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm
(5) steph says:

I read this and said Oh yes, Im overdoing it! I have almost all the side efffects of overdoing it. Im now taking tues and thur nights off and lastnight was the first night in months that I got to bed by10 and actually woke up feeling refreshed and energized instead of cranky, exhausted and mean! Thank you for this article!

January 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm
(6) David says:

As a matter of fact, I just overdid it. My calf/achilles is not happy with me right now, and I’m going to have to take at least a couple days off from running & cycling to see if I can get it better. I hate when stuff like this happens, as I am already so careful with warmups, cooldowns, very regular and frequent stretching, gradual running volume buildup. Despite all of this, sometimes things just go wrong. Oh well. Guess I’ll swim tomorrow.

January 31, 2011 at 8:03 am
(7) What Burns Fat says:

We have been conditioned that when it comes to working out, “More Is Better”. If I can do 30 minutes on the tread mill, then why not 40? When it comes to workouts to burn fat, more cardio is not necessarily better. If you really serious about burning belly fat then you need to focus on intense resistance training.

January 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm
(8) Kimberly says:

Great post! I have known others and have been guilty of it myself of over training. I can always tell I’m overdoing it when my body aches all the time, my mornings are tough to get up & my muscles feel mushy.
I’ve learned to dial it back a few times over the week & some days not even work out at all. I’ve been actively doing this now for a year and I’ve noticed some great changes, no more fatigue during the day, less aches and pains (unless I really did put in a tough work out) & the recovery time is shortened, like it should be & I’ve been able to break through plateaus much easier now.
With the correct rest & changing my work out programs through out the months I’ve become much more efficient & stronger.
I highly recommend to anyone, just pace yourself, don’t over-do if you are just starting, and if you are athletic to do more interval training.
Make being fit a lifetime endeavor and not something for a short term goal:-)

January 31, 2011 at 10:26 pm
(9) Steve says:

Trying to run a really fast marathon is overdoing it. For me sometimes it feels like I got hit with a big stick and sometimes I just have to walk backwards down steps for a couple of days. ( quads hurt) I was fortunate enough to run the Boston marathon one time. (You have to qualify.) It was kinda fun to see all the people limping on and off the plane after.

January 31, 2011 at 11:29 pm
(10) Joe says:

I overdid last summer bench pressing – something cracked in my shoulder. I went to the Ortho who thought it was ‘Frozen Shoulder’ and recommended me to a phisio who forced my arm to do painful things every day for the next two months. When the thing did not get any better, I went to another Ortho for second opinion. He tolm me not to lift my arm above my shoulder for two months. That advice was easy to follow and I made a full recovery (hopefully)
I lifting again now as I put on 20Lbs in the no-exercise period. But – this overtraining thing is serious. It can cause you tremendous physicaL AND FINANCIAL PAIN

February 1, 2011 at 9:50 am
(11) Rowdygirl says:

I just had this conversation last week ! I’ve been hitting the elliptical for 35-40 minutes and 2-3 miles at a time. It’s making my butt look better, but I’m also sore and my bad knees are aching. I was wondering if it’s just a part of being physical to be sore and achy all the time if you consistently work out?

February 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm
(12) Teresa says:

Yes I have overdone it at times! There were times when the soreness was extreme, & lasted more than a few days, even up to a week…and there was a lot of fatigue etc. I tried to push myself so hard all the time that eventually I strained a muscle in my lower back, and am still trying to recover! It’s taken a long time because I kept trying to go back to working out. Working with the dr. & phys. ther. has helped. I am learning a lot from this injury; including how to pace myself and let the body recover! Thanks for your articles!

October 27, 2012 at 11:35 am
(13) Debbie Rowley says:

This article has been very useful. I have recently started a programme of using weights in an attempt to burn fat and lose weight. As a complete novice I think I’ve been over enthusiastic and overdone it. I am so tired after only two consecutive days and feel sick. Not slept properly either. Going to slow it down and not push myself so hard.

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