How To Know When You’re Overtraining and Why It Should Be Avoided Like the Plague

What do athletes and fitness fanatics share in common that can be their greatest asset but also their ultimate downfall? 

Perfectionism and obsession. When this leads to over-training. You want to be training more than everyone else. Working harder than everyone else. You put in the hours even when your body is crying out for you to stop. It’s a fine and difficult line. So how do you know when you’re overtraining? How do you know when you’re doing more harm than good? 

You’re performing worse not better

A mistake that many of us are guilty of (been there, done that, got the rash guard) is when we are training full pelt and all of a sudden we see ourselves getting weaker, our performance is getting worse.

First instinctive reaction? :

Obviously I’m not working hard enough, right? I must work harder! I must train more. We shoot ourselves in the foot. And everywhere else on our bodies. To reach our prime of course we must constantly push ourselves to be better, to push past pain.

But you have to be a bit clever about it. You are flesh and bone. Your most prized possession is your body. And only you can look after it. No one is going to ultimately do that for you.

The signs that you need to slow down:

Your performance had been increasing and improving. You increase your training and you find your progress is steadily slowing down and reversing. You can test this. Take half a day or a day’s rest. See the improvement. If there is none, it may be the sign of a deeper problem or injury. Or that in fact you need more rest. if there is no overall improvement after a week then do question this seriously.

Generally speaking, if you see you improve after this rest, you know you need to reassess your training regime. You’ve been overtraining.

Your coaches and close training partners are telling you that you are overworking yourself

Naturally you’re not going to listen to the average Joe. If you’re the type to overtrain then I assume your level of activity already far exceeds theirs. You’re always going to look like you’re working too hard by their standards.

But when your coach starts warning you, well it’s in their best interests to keep you safe and keep performing at your peak. They will be familiar with the signs and have seen it many times before. A good coach should be like a mirror. You can’t see yourself, you can’t correct yourself if you can’t see what’s wrong. Your close training partners will likely know you and your training behaviour well. They know you, they also know you well enough to tell you to your face. LISTEN TO THEM. Sit your ass down.

Small injuries like cuts, grazes and bruises are taking longer to heal or not healing at all

If your body is under stress and you’re not giving it appropriate time for rest and recovery, it’s gonna show.

It’s ability to heal itself will be massively affected. 

This also counts for your body being able to protect itself, you will be far more likely to catch infections, which will slow your recovery process even more.

Generally speaking you will be less able to combat disease. That’s not a risk you want to take. A little cold you might have shrugged off with a tissue will leave you in bed like a zombie. Your body will force you to take the rest you need if you won’t do it yourself.

You will also feel weaker. Muscles you’re working (overworking) will not be recovering properly. Just a number of things you should beware of and be aware of when reassessing your training habits and realising when you’re training too much.

Your sleep is suffering 

Either you find that your body is under so much stress or in pain that you are struggling to fall asleep/have fitful sleep or the quality of your sleep goes down.

Tracking bands such as jawbone are useful indicators (note I say indicator, none of that technology will give you super accurate readings) of how much deep and R.E.M. Sleep you’re getting as well as the total. A persistent lack of deep sleep for example may be a bad sign.

You might even knowingly be sacrificing sleep to train. This is massively counter-intuitive. How do you expect to recover post training? If you don’t then ask yourself. What exactly was the point of that training session?

You’re training so much you’re neglecting your nutrition 

If you’re training so much that you do not leave yourself enough time to make sure you have the right amount of nutrition, you know it will be detrimental.

All that extra activity will require extra calories. Combat training especially is explosive not slow and steady, so you need high volume/ density of healthy calories prior to training to perform at your best.

This is naturally most prevalent prior to competition. You’re anxious to train as much as possible to outwork your opponents. You’re probably in the midst of a weight cut, so you might fall in to the trap of thinking, better fit in another training session rather than another meal. Now how silly does that look written down?

I have seen phenomenal fighters lose due to over-training. I’ve seen them lose focus and deteriorate. That will NOT be you. 

I’ve got you under my wing. You know the signs. You know not to overtrain. Because hopefully now you can clearly see when you analyse these symptoms how much damage you’re really doing. You’re moving one step forward to move a mile back.

You’re using a bucket with a spear at the bottom to empty your rowing boat of water. You’re only making yourself sink faster. At least you won’t now will you?
So what should I do about my training?

As far as restructuring your training goes, it could be that you have fewer workout sessions a day/a week, space them out differently. Or it could just be that you use that slot of time in a different way, to analyse or lightly drill technique. To study other fighters. It’s all about adapting to what your body and your mind needs. Physicality alone is not what wins the fight and not all practise needs to be focused on the physical. Sometimes you need a break from training and everything to do with it if only for an hour to be refreshed. Perhaps you are the kind of person who benefits from a quick siesta or afternoon nap.

These are all things you need to experiment with to get the balance right.

But ultimately, overtraining is a fool’s errand.

Hope all you lovely people have enjoyed this. Please SUBSCRIBE TO THE MAILING LIST, TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER, comment, get in touch, get involved. Keep on fighting. Oss