Smashing your fitness goals with a new personal record in the gym or reaching that extra mile on your run is a feeling second to none. 
The dedication, the sweat, the countless hours spent in training, they all contribute to attaining your targets. However, it's crucial to remember the role of adequate rest in this journey. Overworking your body can, ironically, set you back by impairing your performance. 
Training stresses the body and in turn, breaks down muscle. The repair and recovery of the muscles after exercise is what makes us fitter, rather than the exercise itself. So, the more you break your body down without sufficient recovery, the slower you will be to improve fitness and gain strength. 
As humans, we associate exercise with those feel-good endorphins and when we exercise, our brains trigger a stress response within the body. This is done by spiking our stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. What many people don’t know, however, is the body requires rest for it to recover, which is especially important before your next bout of high-intensity exercise. 

Signs you are overtraining 

Are you feeling less motivated or finding the gym a chore? When exercise stops being fun, take it as a hint from your body to take a rest. This is normally the first sign that you are pushing your body past its limit. 
Ask yourself the following questions: 
Do you feel like you’ve stopped progressing? If you feel like your progress has been hindered and you’re unable to lift heavier or run that little bit further than you may have potentially hit a plateau. 
Have you noticed a change in your heart rate? When you’re in a state of overtraining your heart rate will not have the same variability as what it did before. So, if you’re doing a HIIT session and you’ve noticed that your heart rate isn’t dropping in your rest periods then it’s a sign that your body isn’t as resilient to stress. 
Feeling excessively stressed, overwhelmed, moody, or even depressed or anxious? These can be signs of overtraining, affecting your hormonal balance and mental wellbeing because your body is essentially breaking down. 
Are you more achy than usual? Or have you noticed that your old niggle may have started to flare up? Exercise causes inflammation and when there’s no recovery period to help reduce inflammation then the aches, pains, and injuries are more likely. 

Path to recovery 

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of overtraining, then you should try to stop exercising and rest. This is easier said than done in most circumstances. However, by setting aside a couple of days or maybe even one to two weeks, this will allow your body to heal itself. 
You’ll be surprised by the results of slowing it down and resting. 
Remember, planning recovery days is as crucial as scheduling your workouts. A recommended practice is to have a rest day every three to five days, though overtrained bodies may require a minimum of three consecutive rest days. 
There are many ways to relieve tension and stress. These include: 
- Yoga 
- Hot baths 
- Meditation 
We hope that you’ve found this blog useful and that the take home message is to know that it’s OK to take time off from exercising and working out. 
If you want to learn how to help people recover after training, then sign up to one of our courses! It’s so rewarding to support and aid our clients on their journeys. 
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