How To Tell If You're Overtraining, According To Sam Wood

In a Western world where there are scary obesity rates and inactivity is at an all-time high, I’ll admit, I don’t come across instances of overtraining very often. However, it’s at this time of year when I do see cases like these and they need to be taken seriously as it’s mostly people who have tried to go from zero to hero very quickly and have not given their bodies time to adapt.

The start of the year can absolutely be an awesome motivator to get fit, and for some, this means jumping headfirst into a healthy new routine. You might be that person that’s gone in all guns blazing; you have kept your nutrition in check, smashed your workouts each day and have even added in extra training sessions too. You’ve given it 110%, but now you’re starting to feel exhausted, run down, lacking in energy and just downright sore. Chances are, you’re overtraining and could be close to burning out.  

Still not sure if this sounds like you? Here are some key signs to look out for if you’re burning out:

  • You’re continually tired
  • You can’t sleep
  • You have injuries that just aren’t healing
  • You’re constantly sore with achy and heavy muscles
  • You keep getting sick
  • You’re lacking motivation to exercise

So, if this message is resonating with you as you jumped headfirst out of the blocks in 2018, here are some tips to balance out, not burn out.

Hit pause on your routine and reflect by asking yourself a few questions. Were your initial fitness goals realistic? Were they sustainable in the long run? Were you simply pushing yourself too hard to achieve them? My training philosophy is based on the idea that 28 minutes of moving each day with 4 or 5 of these workouts being of a higher intensity is enough to get you in shape and see results. So really reflect on your routine; are you doing too much of the same type of training? Is there any yin to your yang? Think about where you started and ask yourself, are you genuinely on the path to achieving that or is overtraining meaning you’re going one step forwards, two steps back?

With your reflection in mind, think about this: less can be more. I’m here to categorically tell you (and trust me I’ve seen this thousands of times, particularly with athletes) that they get the best results when they do less volume, but every workout or session has a particular purpose. Sometimes our body and brain need a rest! So, if you are about to start a new session and you are already physically and mentally fatigued then you need to stop.

When it comes to training and nutrition, I’m always saying that balance will be your best friend. It’s only once you adopt a balanced attitude and give your body the breaks it needs when its telling you to slow down that you’ll be able to keep smashing your goals in the long run. I know it sounds like a cliché but when you’re heading for a burn out, less will be more. Quality will prevail over quantity, and it’s OK to have a day off. Never forget, a good quality sleep of 7-8 hours a night, nutrition and hydration are, and always will be paramount to ensuring peak performance.

Sam Wood is the founder of online training and nutrition program 28 by Sam Wood and Australia’s largest personal training gym ‘The Woodshed’. 

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