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7 Signs That You're Overtraining (You Might Be Showing Them!)

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

Training hard and training smart gets you where you want to be. We all know that. However, there does come a point where we're training far too hard or far too much, and it starts to have a negative impact on our ability to make gains and make new progress.


Many people train hard. And quite a lot of people tend to overtrain and overwork themselves, trying to drive more and more gains. Yet even though it can be detrimental to our gains and progress, most people do not actually know the signs or indications that they're overtraining. You could be killing gains, and be completely oblivious to it!


That's why in this post, I'll be going over the 7 biggest signs that you're overtraining in your exercise program, and likely need to dial it down a little if you want to maximize your results. Plus, I'll be giving you tips and pointers as to ways you can approach this problem if needed!



CrossFit athletes completely exhausted at the end of a workout and clearly overtrained



What is Overtraining?


We'll keep it brief here. Basically, overtraining is doing too much work too often, or training too hard too often to a point where your body is unable to recover in time to accommodate for all the stress that you're putting it through.


There are a variety of reasons as to why somebody can become overtrained. For example, not resting for long enough between sets can cause you to become overtrained. If you're taking all of your working sets in the gym close to (within 3 reps of) failure, and you're not resting enough, you're quickly going to burn our and become overtrained.


And this can be applied activities outside of the gym as well. Not scheduling enough rest between running sessions or cycling sessions will lead to overtraining.


Now we'll get into the 7 biggest signs and indications that you're overtraining.


The key takeaway is: overtraining is doing too much hard work without your body being able to recover at the same rate to keep up.

Your Performance Has Decreased


One of the biggest indications that you're overtraining and working too hard is actually a decline in your athletic performance. Whether this means you're starting to run slower, or you're putting up smaller numbers in the gym, if your performance has decreased and you're sure you're pushing hard, you might be overtraining.


You see, when we work too hard too often, our bodies are unable to recover from all the stress that we're putting them through. This leads us to head into training sessions in a suboptimal state to perform well.


We might head into training sessions with extremely sore muscles, or feeling tired after not getting enough sleep. This is going to cause our performance to drop and fall off a little.


So if you've been noticing that your performance has dropped lately, and you're sure that you're pushing hard, it might be time to give your body a little more rest.


Your Workouts Feel Harder


The next big sign that you're overtraining goes hand in hand with the previous one. If your workouts are starting to feel harder and harder, even though you're doing the same exercises for the same amount of reps, sets with the same weight, then you're likely doing too much. More than your body can handle.


Maybe it means that running for 30 minutes straight is starting to feel longer and longer if you don't train with weights in the gym. Maybe it means that you're having to stop more often during your HIIT workouts, and you find that you're barely hanging on.


The point is, if you feel like your workouts are getting increasingly difficult, even though you're doing the same thing as before, you're probably doing too much and need to be resting a little bit more.


You Feel Extremely Fatigued All the Time


Man in city looking very tired and wanting to get some rest

If you're constantly feeling tired, and it's gotten to a point where it's starting to have an effect on your ability to perform your everyday tasks, you're likely doing too much work and too much training.


If you wake up in the morning and struggle to get out of bed, if you're feeling slow and lethargic at work, if you just feel like you'd rather be sleeping and relaxing over anything else, then this is probably a sign that you're working your body too hard.


You need to take a step back and look to reduce your workload throughout the week, as this is going to allow you to feel fresher every day and improve the overall quality of your workouts and life in general.



You're Experiencing Chronic Pain or Discomfort


Whether it's in your lower back, your neck, your shoulders or wherever else, physical pain during or after exercise is never a good thing. And if you find that you're constantly having to deal with pain and it affects your everyday life, then this might be a sign that you're training too hard.


Exercise causes muscle damage and microtrauma throughout the body. Doing too much intense exercise can cause too much damage to the body, and this leads to chronic pain/discomfort.


You need to be giving your body the chance to get the rest that it so desperately needs, and also be aiding the body in this process by doing your post-workout recovery, such as your static stretching and foam rolling.


Additionally, you should be ensuring that you do a proper warmup before any training session, whether you're lifting weights, riding a bike or going for a run. This will help make sure that you don't force the body into intense exercise before any preparation. Your joints and muscles don't want to be shocked. You need to be taking care of your body properly.


Your Quality of Sleep Has Decreased


Another big indication of overtraining is actually a decrease in the quality of your sleep at night. This might sound a little counterintuitive as being more tired generally allows us to fall asleep quicker and sleep better.


However, overtraining can lead to more stress and an imbalance in your hormones, which causes restlessness at night and the inability to fall asleep. When you're constantly tired and stressed, you won't be able to fall asleep as easily. And the quality of the sleep that you do get will likely be compromised as well.


So if you've recently noticed that your ability to fall asleep at night has dropped, or you're waking up feeling less refreshed than you used to, it might be a sign that you're actually working too hard in your exercise or training program.


And of course, a lack of quality sleep is going to lead to many of the points on this list such as fatigue, decreased performance, moodiness and so on.


You've Lost Motivation


Muscular athlete looking exhausted and demotivated during workout due to being overtrained and not getting enough rest

Next up, a decrease in your motivation towards the gym or your training sessions is a giveaway that you're working too hard. Training should ideally be fun, and something that we enjoy doing. It should be something that we look forward to.


There's no science behind this, but you train harder and make more progress when you enjoy what you're doing. However, overtraining can cause your workouts to feel harder, halt your progress and make exercise feel like a chore. This is going to cause motivation to drop, is definitely not what we want and is something that everybody wants to avoid.


And no, we're not just talking about waking up every once in a while and not feeling like going to the gym. That's normal, and it's important to stay disciplined on those days. We're talking about never wanting to go to the gym. We're talking about feeling as if you're being forced to work out, instead of actually wanting to do so yourself.


This sign once again goes hand in hand with several of our other points on this list. It's important that if you are feeling constantly unmotivated in the gym or in your training, that you look for the reasons behind this and try to resolve the issue. Often times, it'll be because you're simply training too hard and your body is unable to keep up with this pace of yours.


Irritability or Moodiness


Last but not least on this list, irritability or constant moodiness serves as an indication that you're overtraining in your exercise program.


You see, overtraining can affect your stress hormone levels and cause things like depression, anxiety, mood swings and more. If you're constantly feeling stressed and agitated, there's no doubt that you'll get irritated more easily and act moody to those around you, even if you don't want to be.


A lack of quality sleep, a decline in athletic performance and fatigue will all play a part in making you a more moody person. What's important is that you find a way to resolve this and take a look at your training to see if that's what's causing your mood changes.


If you don't, and you let this problem continue, it'll start having an impact on your life outside of the gym or training grounds, such as in your dating life, career and friendships.


What Can We Do?


Well, it should be pretty clear, but you'll want to look to reduce your total workload throughout the week to a volume that's more manageable and friendlier on the body's ability to recover from all the stress you're putting it under.


If you're currently training six days a week, and this is having an impact on your schedule, stress and well being, bump it down to 4 or 5 training days a week!


Or if you're doing too much volume, you can simply remove an exercise or take away a couple of sets from each session and reduce your volume that way.



Oh, and you don't have to be taking every single session of the week to maximal efforts. Work hard and get close to maximal efforts, but you don't need to be pushing the boundaries every single day to see results and get where you want to be.


If you're feeling overtrained and are showing some of these signs, we recommend taking a deload to give your body a full, proper break before jumping back into regular training.


You can click here to read our ultimate guide to deloading, which discusses what deloads are, how to know if you need one and exactly how to go about taking your first deload if you've never taken one before.


Beginner weightlifter doing barbell bench press and gaining strength and muscle in his chest, shoulders and triceps

As you slowly recover from this overtrained state, look to get some good rest each night (at least 7 hours) and eat plenty of good food and water so that you feel as fresh as possible! And for future reference, keep the training volume down. Doing too much excessive volume is only killing your gains.


Wrapping It Up


Overall, overtraining is a problem that has a serious effect on our ability to train and make further gains. It's important that we all know the signs of overtraining, and are able to act quickly on it so that we can protect our gains, regain any lost quality of our everyday lives and get ourselves back on track as quickly as possible.



We hope you've learnt something from this post, and have found it helpful. If you did, share it with your friends so that we can reach more people! We want to help as many as possible reach their fitness goals.




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