Can you Over-Train?
How much exercise is too much?
Over-training can occur very easily, and result in all sorts of problems from fatigue and blisters to serious long-term injury. But listening to your body and keeping the following factors in mind will help you stay fighting fit!
Overtraining is not always due to the frequency of exercise per week, although it can be a big factor! Even 5 or 6 sessions a week are not necessarily too much as long as your nutrition is adequate, you get enough sleep to allow recovery from training and you keep variety in your training. If you currently experience frequent fatigue then it may be you are not achieving all the above!
Be sure that you don't overload the same muscles groups on consecutive days - keep workouts varied. Whenever you do any additional workouts, just make sure it compliments your existing ones. A low-intensity bike ride or run can actually help promote recovery as it helps the body clear waste products and maintain flexibility. We call this 'active recovery' and can include things like swimming or other leisure activities such as badminton and squash.
Feelings of guilt on non-exercise days can be a sign of over-training so be careful. If you start getting short-tempered and irritable when you don't train then force yourself to have an extra day off and break the exercise-dependent cycle before it continues! The body adaptations that result from training occur when we sleep and rest, not while we train, so remember that the rest is AS important as the exercise part!
A high calorie deficit combined with too-intensive training can leave your body struggling to recover and function each day. You will be losing body fat but struggling to maintain and improve your muscle tone and strength due to insufficient nutritional support.
If you carried on trying to train very hard with the same calorie deficit you would become increasingly vulnerable to injury due to muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons not having adequate support to recover between workouts. If needs be, increase your calorie intake to support your training. Good quality protein and carbohydrates will merely ensure you keep achieving your training aims without your body structures struggling to repair.
Over-training can also stall weight loss. A deficit of 500 calories a day (from nutrition and exercise) is generally shown to be the right amount to ensure the body doesn't go into shock and revert to 'famine mode' where it suppresses your immune system and will store calories as fat to protect itself.