When too much exercise is more then enough.

Athletes of all kinds are constantly striving to better their body’s performance, or its appearance.  The never ending battle with our bodies in the quest for personal bests puts us at high risk of over-reaching too long and eventually overtraining.

Overtraining is a term you hear quite often nowadays. The concept that if working out a little is good, then working out a lot must be better is a gross misnomer. Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercising exceeds their recovery ability.  Excessive in this context means either there are too many stresses in term of; number, duration, and, or, intensity.  These stresses are too much for the individual’s body to adapt to in a given period of time.

The concept of adaptation is tricky; if one exercises at too low of a level adaptation does not occur, too much the body starts shutting down systems to conserve energy, in the effort to save its’ very self.  Reproductive hormones are prone to system shut down.  Species do not reproduce in a threatening environment.  Women when overtraining are prone to aberrations in their menstruation cycle.  These aberrations cause low levels circulating estrogens, mimicking menopause. The resulting lowered estrogen levels place these women in a higher risk category for clinical osteoporosis in later life.

Men have a male counterpart to female amenorrhea.  Males that over train, experience a lowering of testicular activity, from the blunting of pituitary function.  Suppression of the pituitary results in a lowered production of luteinizing hormone. The reduction of luteinizing hormone forces the lowering of serum testosterone.  There is a causal relationship between lowered testosterone and the decrease in libido, sperm count, and reproductive ability.

The effects of over training are not limited to sex hormone levels alone.  The following are symptoms of over training:

  1. General soreness increasing form training session to training session.
  2. Sudden or gradual increase in resting heart rate.
  3. Lowered general physical resistance, as evidenced by continuous colds or headaches.

When experiencing the symptoms of overtraining the course of action is rest and laying off strenuous physical activity for a few days to a week.

Train the body- Nudge the body- Don’t beat the body.