4 Signs You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard
I've seen it. I've done it....progress stalls and no matter what you try you're seem to be stuck on a plateau that's impossible to break through. So you push harder, add extra exercises, extra sets, extra reps. Your program gets longer and longer. Still you're stuck or worse, going backwards.
Working hard is part of the process. Getting fit is not supposed to be easy. If it was, everyone would be fit and lean and obesity wouldn't be a national epidemic. But there are limits.
Many will say that "over training" is a myth. You'll hear that it's almost impossible to over train, that the body can take much more punishment that most people realize. And they are right. Up to a point. Often, it's not over training, it's "under resting". You're not giving your body sufficient rest and recovery.
Just as often, it's poor nutrition. You're not giving you body the proper nutrition it needs to recuperate. No matter how hard you train, you can't out train a bad diet.
If there is a problem, look to problems with nutrition and recovery first as possible culprits.
That being said, more is not always better. There comes a time when you need to work smarter-not harder.
Here are 4 signs you may be overdoing it
- You Dread Your Workouts
- You are too sore
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) shouldn't be a problem if you have been using your present program more than a week or so. You should only experience extreme muscle soreness for the first time or two that you are doing something you haven't done before.
If you are weeks or months into a routine and are still getting extremely sore something is wrong.
- Your joints hurt
Overuse injury can affect muscles. But more often, overuse will affect joints and/or connective tissue. If you have joint pain something is wrong. If you experience joint pain after doing the same routine for a period of time it's probably from overuse. Your progress is going to suffer if pain is involved.
- Performance sucks
If you are in week nine of your present program and there's been no progression since week five, pushing harder may only make things worse. If performance is worse than week five you are pushing too hard and you need to back off the intensity.
If you experience any of these symptoms:
- Look first to your rest/recovery plan. Get seven to nine hours of sleep and allow 24 to 48 hours of recovery between workouts for each muscle group. Take at least 2 off days per week.
- Next, make sure your nutrition plan hasn't gone off track.
- Stress can kill gains. Try to relax more or try to eliminate outside stress if you can.
- Keep your workout length to 45-60 minutes (no more than 75 minutes) Past 60 minutes cortisol increases substantially for most people. Cortisol is good during your workout up to a point. But cortisol is an catabolic hormone (burns muscle tissue) and elevated cortisol can carry well past the end of your workout. If your workout lasts 2 hours you're either wasting a lot of time or you're not training with enough intensity. Your should be pleasantly tired when you finish but should feel like you could do it again within 3 or 4 hours. Otherwise, you may actually be losing muscle.
- "De-load" for a week by easing up on the intensity. Don't skip workouts. Just cut back. Less load if you have joint soreness. Or fewer sets. In the past, I have taken a de-load week and immediately started seeing progress return.
Whether you call it "over-training" or "under recovery" doesn't really matter. You need to find the problem and fix it.