As a habitual exerciser, I routinely train for hours on a daily basis. While I am proud of my accomplishments in the gym, my health has come into question.
Specifically, I would like to know if one can overtrain and if there are options to prevent this from happening.
I’ve recently been spending more time in the gym than ever before and, at times, have gotten quite frustrated with the training routine. The most frustrating part of the workout is that I just can’t seem to get it right — and I often train longer than planned because I get so frustrated.
The key issues that need addressing are:
How long should one go? My typical workout is 2-3 hours, during which I usually do 3-4 sets of 4-5 reps (1-minute rest between sets). Should this be changed? Is it too much? Will it lead to injury? How does one know when you are pushing too hard or not enough?
Should one be working out as hard as possible even if not getting results (in fact, is some pushing of the limits better than none)? Is there an optimal amount to be pushing yourself without damaging your body?
The Risks of Working Out Too Much
This post may seem trivial for those who have never been lucky enough to experience a physical or mental injury. But for many others, it is not as simple as that.
There are a lot of factors that can be used to measure the risk of injury and disease, including the strength of your muscles and bones; the force of your movements; muscle fatigue; how much time you spend on a given exercise; and the quality of your daily fitness routine (how well you sleep; how often you eat healthy foods; etc.). These all combine to affect your risk when you engage in an activity.
One thing is for sure — working out too much can lead to (or deepen) chronic diseases or even death. See “Overtraining: The dangers of overdoing it” for more information about this topic.
The Mental Health Risks of over-Exercising
While it would be great if you could use a workout to help you get rid of all the accumulated bad stuff, it is not the best idea. Exercise is an energy-sucking drain on the body, leading to poor blood circulation and general tiredness. Most people who do too much exercise will say they feel tired and their heart rate gets up too fast, leading to mental fatigue and muscle cramps.
Even if they do a ton of work out, they are still not getting enough nutrition from their diet. The evidence suggests that exercise is no more effective than other forms of activity when it comes to burning calories for fuel or building muscle, but it does have some positive effects when it comes to mood (i.e., making you feel better) and blood sugar levels (i.e., helping your body break down sugar).
The Physical Health Risks of over-Exercising
Over-exercise is a severe problem. Exercise science and medicine have established that the effects of intense exercise on physical health can be quite profound and can be a risk to your physical and mental well-being.
Psychological studies have shown that the intensity of exercise, how long you do it, how hard you train, what kind of training you do and who you are with are all factors.
There are also direct physical risks associated with exercise. Over-training is one such risk; overuse injuries can occur as a result of excessive exercise or improper training techniques.
How to avoid the risks of over-exercising
Increasingly, studies have shown that insulin resistance—the inability of your body to use insulin effectively—can be caused by excess exercise, even when it is performed without the intent to burn fat. This occurs because an ACTH surge—the hormone that increases after exercise—causes your body to store fat, as we all do. The more you exercise, the greater this tendency will be.
Overtraining is used for overexercising at a level where your body does not recover from its workouts until days or weeks later (and sometimes even longer). This can lead to injury or the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and osteoarthritis. Chronic diseases are on the rise in older people due to overtraining’s incurable state – which calls into question just how long they should continue exercising at high-intensity levels.