Excessive exercise is a condition where you train more than your body can handle, which can lead to stress, injury, and even depression. What this means specifically, excessive exercise is the result of a long-term imbalance between the athlete’s stress and recovery factors.
Signs Of Excessive Exercise
Here are some possible signs of excessive exercise to look out for:
- Fatigue and tiredness: A constant feeling of exhaustion and tiredness, even after adequate sleep.
- Reduced performance: Sudden decline in physical performance
- Persistent pain and injuries
- Recurrent injuries and pain, especially in joints and muscles
- Changed sleeping habits: a sudden increase or decrease in the need for sleep.
- Mood swings: Excessive stress and fatigue can lead to emotional problems and mood swings, including depression and anxiety.
- Loss of interest in training: a loss of interest in training and a lack of motivation.
- Reduced resilience: e.g. susceptibility to infections.
- Persistent muscular exhaustion: e.g. permanent heavy thick legs.
- Psychological and physical factors: Inner restlessness, sleep disorder or loss of appetite, headaches, indigestion, abnormal sensation in the heart area
Excessive Exercise: How Does It Happen?
Even though you have trained harder than ever before in the past few weeks, you are no longer making any progress. On the contrary, you feel weak and listless, and your performance may even decrease. Such a scenario could indicate excessive exercise.
You get into this state of chronic exhaustion and reduced performance when you put too much strain on your body. In concrete terms, this means if the training intensity is too high in combination with too much training and too short regeneration phases, there is a risk of excessive exercise. This can happen to you in both endurance and strength sports.
The Health Consequences Of Excessive Exercise
If you don’t pay attention to your body’s early warning system, excessive exercise can actually have serious health consequences for you. On the one hand, it is assumed that the risk of injury increases with prolonged, excessive stress.
On the other hand, there is a risk that tendons, ligaments, and muscle tissue will be damaged, so you should take this risk seriously. If you sustain a serious injury due to excessive exercise, you may have to miss training for weeks or even months.
You should also not take the psychological component of overtraining lightly. In the long term, overuse can take away your enjoyment of the sport that you previously practiced with passion and you will definitely not want that. The body’s defense mechanisms are also weakened by excessive training. Your immune system is too weak to defend itself against viruses and bacteria, which leads to a higher susceptibility to infections.
Your hormonal balance is also affected by too much exercise. Too many training sessions and too few regeneration phases can lead to a hormonal imbalance. Your body is under constant stress and releases too much cortisol. Heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, and immune system dysfunction are also often associated with elevated cortisol levels.
How Can Excessive Exercise Be Prevented?
To prevent excessive exercise from occurring in the first place, it is best to protect yourself and your body from excessive stress beforehand. To do this, you should take a critical look at your training plan and check whether it really corresponds to your performance level in terms of training intensity and scope and offers enough variety.
You can determine the training intensity using two methods. You can either rely on your own perception, at high intensity you will sweat after just a few minutes, breathe deeply and quickly, and are hardly able to speak more than a few words during exercise. Or you can determine it using a heart rate monitor, also known as a pulse or sports watch. There are various reliable types of these models from basic to high-end devices. If you don’t want to trust your own body’s feelings, the second option is a reliable solution to avoid excessive exercise.
In general, you should make sure not to increase your training by more than ten percent per week. Focus on either volume or intensity, but not both at once. And try not to do more than a quarter of all sessions at maximal or submaximal intensity. The following guidelines apply to the regeneration phases after training and important measures for you to prevent excessive exercise.