With summer practically here and that swimsuit calling it’s easy to fall into the overtraining trap and promise yourself that if you work out really, really hard everyday from now until your holiday, all will be okay but can less really be more when it comes to training?
Exercise benefits us I so many ways and we certainly won’t be telling anyone to stop but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing and that’s where your rest days, or even just day, come in.
Your muscles actually grow whilst resting, when you weight train you make tiny tears in your muscle fibers that can only be repaired whilst resting,it’s during sleep where growth hormone levels are at their highest. It’s this process that makes the muscles stronger than they were before so by not have sufficient rest periods; you’re actually sacrificing the gains you have worked so hard for. Without proper recovery time, not only will you reach a performance plateau, but you also run the risk of injuryand may even experience reduced performance or complete burnout.
There are many signs of overtraining. Physical symptoms include elevated pulse rate, consistently elevated blood pressure, persistent muscular soreness, increased frequency of common illnesses, like colds, increased incidence of injuries, and decreased appetite and weight loss. The effects from overtraining may not only be physiological as it can affect your mental health too.
Psychological signs of overtraining can include; irritability, mood swings, insomnia, depression, loss of desire to train or do other things formerly enjoyed. This certainly isn’t healthy and is not good for you or the people around you.
For women, overtraining can lead to infrequent periods or even stopping all together. Although this may sound like a good thing, it usually means therea sign of decreased estrogen levels. Lowerestrogen levelscan lead to osteoporosis, a disease in which your bones become brittle and more likely to break, so if your periods stop, you should speak to your doctor.
So how many rest days should we have? That depends on the type and intensity of the training you are doing and also individual factors such as fitness level and lifestyle but generally one or two breaks from training a week should be adequate. If you really can’t relax on your rest days then try some LISS, low intensity steady state, training instead such as going for a stroll or a gentle swim, this will be far more beneficial to your training and your mood.
Just remember exercise should be enjoyable as well as beneficial and sometimes less really is more.