Since my office is located at bodybuilding mecca Golds Gym Venice, I often observe some of the gym’s most die-hard fitness fanatics suffering from a common syndrome: overreaching.
Overreaching doesn’t just make you feel chronically sore and fatigued; it can actually decrease your performance and recovery, tax your immune system, increase levels of cortisol (a fat-storing hormone), and decrease testosterone levels.
There’s no better feeling than the sense of accomplishment and endorphin high that result from a great workout. But for some, that feeling leads to addiction and a sense of invincibility that puts the body at risk. I realize that to achieve great results, it takes great passion — and I applaud those who pursue their training with gusto. But it can sometimes become difficult to realize when we’ve crossed that fine line between being healthy and productive, and moved into being excessive and damaging.
Do you think you might be overreaching? Signs of overreaching include decreased desire to train, fatigue, decreased stamina or irregular performance levels.
Here are 5 steps to avoid overreaching:
1. Schedule your rest. This includes planned periods of recovery in an exercise program, and having a consistent sleep schedule. As a result your corstisol levels will stay down, and growth hormone levels will stay up to promote healing and the desired gains.
2. Progress Appropriately. Effects of overtraining can be also be seen if progressions are made too fast in a program. Get on a training program that gives proper progressions for your body, prior fitness level, and goals.
3. Optimize recovery. Implement daily the use of self-massage using tools like a foam roller, and stretch especially after exercise.
4. Change up your program. Every 2-6 weeks modify any of the following: equipment, training surface, environmental conditions, muscle contraction emphasis, patterns of movement, order of exercise, intensity (load), volume (sets & reps), or recovery time.
5. Stabilize Your Blood Sugar. Eat consistent small meals throughout the day (every 3-4 hours) with the proper ratios of protein, fat, and carbohydrates and the correct number of calories for your body and activity level. This will ensure that the body does not become catabolic (state of cellular breakdown), and lose valuable muscle. It will also support a strong immune system. Nutrition is often undervalued, as it is a critical factor to achieve desired physical and performance goals.
If you feel you’ve been overreaching, Advanced Athletics can help you bring your fitness and health goals back into balance.