Often, there comes a time for all of us when we realize that we have over-worked our bodies. Overtraining is not difficult to do and it usually occurs in individuals who are new to working out and weightlifting. Whether someone simply does not know how long to effectively exercise or if their muscles are out of shape for an exercise, overtraining will follow.
Overtraining occurs when an individual’s exercise intensity exceeds that of their recovery capacity. Overtraining may have a serious impact on physique resulting in muscle damage and/or loss.
It is important to start slow. Individuals who are new to exercise will have to spend a considerable amount of time “getting to know their body”. Understanding your limitations is not always bad. It is the heart of weightlifting and the familiar impetus which allows you to upgrade your weaknesses.
Minor inflammation and muscle soreness is not always a sure sign of overtraining. Often, slight muscle soreness is an excellent indicator of what part of the body was worked efficiently and what was not worked to maximum capacity. True overtraining usually consists of immense muscular soreness and pain, severe inflammation and an inability to carry out mundane tasks.
Overtraining can occur for a number of reasons. While a workout that was simply too intense is usually the primary reason, nutrition is also a reason. Not receiving enough nutrition before exercise deprives the body of the nutrients needed to expend energy and deliver blood to the muscles. Proper nutrition after a workout is vital to recovery and the body requires nutrients to replace the energy that was used during a workout. Inadequate nutrition before or after workouts is a causal potential for overtraining. Therefore, examine nutritional intake as well as exercise intensity if you feel as though you have overtrained.
Lastly, what happens if you do overtrain? Consulting a physician is never a bad idea. However, there are things that can be done to help alleviate some of the pain and get you back in the gym. Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen is helpful in minimizing the pain and inflammation of overtraining. Additionally, utilize heat as it is a vasodilator and helps to loosen and relax the muscles. Cold is good for the pain but it has a particular nasty side-effect of tensing up the muscles and making them rigid when applied for long periods of time. Therefore, a mix of heat and cold therapy is beneficial, and this usually comprised of 75% heat and 25% cold.
Keep supplementing. Protein shakes with branched chain amino acids are beneficial for recovery. Specifically, ensure that you are consuming L-arginine, L-glutamine and L-carnitine tartrate as these are all supplements which will aid in your recovery.
Lastly, perform daily stretches to keep the muscles from becoming rigid and inflamed. Testing the range of motion of overtrained muscles can greatly help speed up the recovery process. Specifically, stretch in the shower while letting hot water affected area. The heat helps to relax the muscles and enable you to stretch with minimal discomfort.