Pushing yourself too hard in the gym will derail your mood, health and, of course, your gains. Know the signs to avoid burnout.
1. FALSE ECONOMY
One of the joys of training is seeing positive changes to your fitness and, let’s be honest, your appearance. But there’s a limit. To better understand overtraining, think of it as under-recovering. Push too hard with insufficient rest and you’ll eventually inflict long-term damage on your health, causing your muscle-growth to plateau or even regress.
2. WASTED EFFORT
Beasting your Friday arms session might not cause any long-term harm, but is it effective? Specific muscle groups can only cope with a certain amount of adaptation in a given time, so six sets won’t be twice as good as three sets. That’s why mixing things up is still the smartest policy.
3. CRASH AND BURNOUT
Going too hard, too fast could help you look slightly better in boardies, but you also risk low energy levels and depression. A study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that men who push beyond their limits increase their creatine kinase levels by five times – an enzyme that will leave you wired and anxious on the beach.
4. PAIN TRAIN
Overtraining can cause disrupted sleep, erectile dysfunction and hypertension after just two weeks, not to mention a decline in athletic performance. Allow this to continue for months and it could lead to overtraining syndrome. Simply stopping won’t immediately reverse the damage: Sports Medicine suggests a full recovery could take years.
5. BRING IT BACK HOME
Long-term success depends on balance. A burst of all-out effort can be successful if it’s followed by a reduction in volume and intensity. It’s a myth that you get bigger and stronger in the gym. In reality, you progress in training’s aftermath, when your body repairs and adapts – aided, perhaps, by a magnesium supplement. By all means go hard, but make sure you go home, too.