Overkill: How to Fight Overtraining

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Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang

By Sarah McGowan
Whether you’re focused on the Benepe Cup or Regionals next year, chances are you’re going to spend your summer getting fit for quidditch. But before you schedule yourself for two-a-days every day, remember that too much too soon can be just as detrimental as not training at all. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, overtraining occurs when an individual is training beyond the body’s ability to recover. As a result, your body systems will become taxed and struggle to complete some of their most important functions.

Overtraining can Lead to Underperformance

I don’t want to bog you down with the physiological and scientific specifics, but essentially overtraining compromises many functions necessary to athletic performance. It can decrease your body and muscle mass, deplenish your glycogen storage which helps fuel your muscles and power explosive activity and interfere with blood glucose, free fatty acid and glycolytic energy regulation. In addition it causes an increase in general fatigue, a risk for osteoporosis and susceptibility to illness and infection. Studies also show a decrease in blood pressure, while others have found a heightened resting heart rate and higher blood pressure reading. Clearly, when it comes to training, you can have too much of a good thing.

Ways to Prevent Overtraining

The easiest way to prevent overtraining is to listen to your body. Generally, symptoms appear after three weeks of a new exercise program. In its simplest form, the best way to prevent overtraining is to rest or workout at a lower intensity. You can also work on another aspect of your overall fitness. If you’re feeling particularly tired one day, focus on throwing accuracy or substitute cardio intervals instead of more aggressive agility training.

You should also get the proper amount of rest during your workout as well. Intense bouts of exercise utilizing strength and power require 3-5 minutes of rest between activities whereas endurance training requires around 30-45 seconds of rest. During any workout longer than an hour, you should take a water break every 15-20 mins, especially on a hot summer day.

When creating your summer training program, you should schedule at least one day of rest or light activity. Most of your training gains and adaptations occur during rest time. To ensure the best results, you should always drink water after a workout and make sure to eat even if you are not feeling hungry. Try to choose a post-workout snack with adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates to replenish your glucose stores and build muscle. A carbohydrate to protein ratio of 4g:1g works well for cardio and endurance training, while a 2g:1g ratio works for strength and hypertrophy training. And be sure to watch what you eat in between workouts too: improper nutrition can lengthen recovery time and facilitate in overtraining.

During your workout progression this summer season, remember to be humble in your gains. Success doesn’t happen overnight and overtraining can sabotage your success. Be patient and you will see results.

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