How to Prevent Overtraining and Overreaching

December 18, 2012 | Z Altug

Serious athletes have no time to break from training, right? Wrong. Conditioning for your sport is not all about work, activity and movement. You also have to rest, relax, and recover (or restore, recuperate, and regenerate). Overtraining can lead to a number of serious consequences and set your training back weeks or even months.

Are you overtraining (pushing your body too far over the course of a training program) or overreaching (going too hard in a single workout or series of workouts)? You've gone too far if you're experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Sympathetic overtraining syndrome, where your resting heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolic rate are abnormally elevated
  • Parasympathetic overtraining syndrome, where your resting heart rate and blood pressure decrease abnormally
  • Emotional instability like fatigue, apathy, depression or irritability
  • Decreased desire for and enjoyment of training
  • Decline in performance
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Prolonged recovery from training sessions, which can include tenderness and soreness in muscles and joints
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances

Overuse injuries often result from repeated, abnormal stress applied to a muscle, tendon, ligament or bone—by doing too much, doing too much too soon, or not taking enough time to recover and recuperate (Baechle and Earle, 2008). They can also occur as a result of training errors, faulty technique, decreased flexibility or insufficient strength. Find out if you're overtraining or underrecovering.

How to Prevent Overtraining

Are you guilty of overtraining or overreaching? Start incorporating some of these ideas into your training.

  • Design a good training program that incorporates sound exercise principles, including rest days
  • Design a program that is appropriate for your level of conditioning
  • Use the principles of cross training (variety of activity)
  • Use the principles of interval training (variety of intensities)
  • Learn to control your stress in daily life so your body can recover from exercise sessions
  • Get enough sleep to allow your mind and body to recover from workouts
  • Get a massage periodically
  • Use self-massage tools after a workout or on rest days—e.g., massage stick, foam roll, or small massage balls
  • Use a steam bath, sauna, or whirlpool, as needed
  • Eat a balanced healthy diet so that you replenish fluids and nutrients needed for recovery
  • Take a vacation several times a year to allow your mind and body to recharge; an often overlooked area in training is how your daily life impacts recovery from exercise, workouts, and sports competition

You can also prevent overtraining and overreaching by tweaking aspects of your personal life, such as:

  • Cutting back on smart phone time, including texting, web surfing, checking emails, and talking, to give your brain a break
  • Driving slower in your community so that your body is not on overdrive (not to mention that it's safer for you and other people on the road)
  • Keeping your personal finances simple and in order
  • Enjoying time with family and friends
  • Avoiding being a constant weight watcher. Don't micromanage every second of your life
  • Learn to complain less throughout your day

References

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). ACSM's Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 6th ed. Philadelphia; Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010.

Baechle TR, Earle RW, eds. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd ed. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics, 2008.

Kreider RB, Fry AC, O'Toole ML, eds. Overtraining in Sport. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics, 1998.

Richardson SO, Andersen MB, Morris T. Overtraining Athletes: Personal Journeys in Sport. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics, 2008.

Verkhoshansky Y, Siff M. Supertraining, 6th ed. Rome, Italy: Verkhoshansky, 2009. www.verkhoshansky.com and www.melsiff.com.

Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
Must See
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 28,675,841
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 6,946,391
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,807

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Views: 1,894
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of
Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,081,054
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,928
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,945
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,869
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,411

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

The lower back is the mediating force between upper and lower body. Like two foreign countries in negotiation, the aggressive behavior of one must be...

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Megan Rapinoes Secret to Staying Healthy

Megan Rapinoe

How to Train With Running Blisters

How to Train With Running Blisters

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

YardBarker