Are You Overtraining?

If you are a exercise participant chances are you have experienced overtraining. Overtraining can be disastrous in making progress. It is important to identify to if you are overtraining. There are two types of overtraining: 1. monotonous program overtraining; 2. Chronic overwork type overtraining.

Monotonous program overtraining is simply the process of the same old program performed over and over without varying or changing of the exercises or intensity. Loss of interest, enthusiasm, and performance.

Chronic overwork type overtraining is when the duration of the exercise program goes too long resulting in hormone depletion and poor neural support. The muscles breakdown beyond normal recovery. Exercise is stress to the body. Proper amounts of stress is appropriate. Too much stress exhausts the organs, muscles, brain, vital nutrient exchange system.

The following are symptoms that are associated with overtraining.

Psychological: Poor motivation, anxiety, depression, irritability, lack of self confidence, chronic fatigue, poor concentration, anger, easily frustrated, on-edge. Brain wave activity changes making it difficult to achieve level four stage sleep. The result is insomnia. Loss of appetite is also a sign of overtraining.

Body Composition Changes: Rapid undesirable weight loss. Muscle atrophy. Poor protein synthesis. Catabolism occurs. Negative nitrogen balance is shown in overtraining. A negative nitrogen balance can produce a loss in lean body mass including both structural and enzymatic proteins, antibodies and other necessary proteins. This increases the development of free radicals to enter into the bloodstream. Increase production of free radicals can influence the onset of illness and disease or injury. High intense training requires the need to increase branch chained amino acid concentrations. The muscle is depleted of the branched chain amino acids. BCAA’s donate nitrogen to pyruvate. Pyruvate can be formed from glucose or from other amino acids. Pyruvate and BCAA’s can be combined: Pyruvate+BCAA-Alanine + Alpha-Ketoacid. Alanine is a nontoxic carrier, that transports amino groups to the liver as part of teh gluconeogenic process. The liver and muscle can catabolize large amounts of amino acids.

Biochemical and Nutritional Changes: The vital nutrient exchange system is compromised in overtraining situations. Vitamin and minerals are depleted from the bloodstream. Vitamins are co-enzymes and minerals are co-factors. They both work in the body as vital components for cell function. When these are deprived in the blood, physical performance is dramatically influenced. I recommend that everyone take a good multi-vit and mineral complex daily.

Dietary Carbohydrates: Low glycemic carbohydrates are essential for muscle metabolism. Glycogen (sugar) is stored in reserves in muscle and liver tissue. During intense exercise muscle and liver glycogen is depleted. Failure to restore glycogen into the muscle and liver will reduce physical performance. Low levels of sugar will influence the early development of lactic acid in the muscle, shutting down the muscle faster than normal. Stored sugar in the muscle can help to provide short term energy and to help the efficiency of muscle metabolism. Lack of sugar changes muscle metabolism making contraction sluggish and weak.

Lactate: Lactic acid is a end product of anaerobic glycolysis. Lactate is a salt that is derived from the buffering action of muscle metabolism. After intense exercise lactate is binds with oxygen in the muscle and liver to form glycogen. If there is less lactate in the muscle then serum lactate concentrations can drop. Low serum lactate levels indicates an overtraining situation. The muscle and liver glycogen levels will be less.

Cardiovascular System: The heart’s electrical sequence can be disrupted. Abnormal, sporadic EKG reading can be shown to indicate over stress to the heart. Increased heart rate at rest is common, as well as increased blood pressure as a result of overtraining.

Digestive System: Poor digestion and nutrient exchange is common as a result of overtraining. If the nutrients are not delivered to the vital nutrient exchange system then the body goes into a deprivation mode. During deprivation mode the body tries to conserve energy and cellular reactions as a defense mechanism to protect the body from catabolism Most folks who overtrain are also malnourished.

Constant Aches and Pains: Abnormal stiffness, muscle soreness, injuries, headaches, over all weakness can be related to overtraining.

The bottom line is to avoid overtraining at all costs. It is better to do less work when you are not feeling 100%, rather than trying to fight through the workout because you were taught that you have to fight through every rep, even though you are weak and ill. When I feel that I am overtraining, I will cut down my routine to 1/2 to get just enough stimulation. I avoid going 100% all the time. I have been training for so long that i know how to train to avoid overtraining. I don’t let my ego get in the way of listening to my own body and rhythms. If you are suffering from severe overtraining, I suggest you take off a couple weeks of training to allow the bodies immune system, endrocrine, muscular system, digestive system, to get back to normal.

Daryl Conant, M.Ed

tags: overtraining, diet EARTH, Vince Gironda, Daryl Conant, Ron Kosloff, nutrition, health, strength and conditioning