by Paul Dunn on
Tags: Personal Trainer
Categories: Industry Insight
7 Signs you’re Over Training
Are you grinding your body and mind into the ground? These PT Skills tips will help you avoid, and, beat these mistakes.
As a Personal Trainer you are committed to your training and if like me you are lifting barbells on a Friday rather than pints, you are working to #AimHigher. I commend all of you dedicating time to your careers and training; however, do you know when you’re asking too much of your body and your mind? Can you recognise signs of overtraining?
I am now 34 and I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years. I have always worked to make myself better every day, improving what I do as I go. When I was younger than I am now, I wanted to make my career successful. I woke up at 5:00am and headed to the gym and would either be in sessions, meeting new gym members, or travelling for work. I would get back home at 9:30pm and be exhausted. My own natural drive kept me going but mentally and physically I was on a very downward spiral. I just did not think I could overtrain or be susceptible to it, I thought I was invincible! Turns out, I’m not and my story will never come to your screens in the Marvel Universe. Just like any other client or athlete, we as personal trainers can overtrain too! Here are 7 signs you are overtraining, and, 7 solutions to avoid those mistakes and continue building your business or growing your career.
7 Signs of Overtraining & 7 Solutions to Beat it!
1. Decreased Motivation
Skipping the odd workout or finishing early now and then is not unusual. However, if you are living; breathing, and working hard to make it in the fitness industry, then, suddenly your at home with your feet up binge watching Game of Thrones and not in the gym on a Monday night meeting new members or training clients, you’ve probably hit a wall and overtrained or over worked.
Solution: Take a full week off your own training and make sure you have a full 8 hours sleep. On nights that I can, I am in bed by 10pm and up at 6am or just before. I do this to make sure I Can restore my body and my mind by taking advantage of quality sleep. When we sleep the mind and body goes into a restorative mode, balancing hormones, and repairing cells. While you’re in the gym working be productive with growing your business. When you’ve met your daily goals or it’s time to go, go!
2. Loss of Concentration
Being attentive to your clients and gym members is crucial in the fitness industry, building your reputation for being qualified; friendly, approachable, engaging, motivating, supportive, and knowledgeable is paramount to your success. All this is done by; delivering good quality member inductions, group classes, client sessions, initial client consultations, member event nights, workshops, meet and greets, floor walking, social media content, or even blog posts!
Solution: Schedule time for everything and build a perfect diary that will help you stay focused and work towards your daily goals. Your diary should include; time to train, eat, meet new members, train your clients, family time, and rest time. By using a diary to plan your business and personal time, you will avoid stretching out your workouts or work into other parts of your daily life. At first it is difficult but you soon learn how to maintain your workout focus while members talk to you. If you do not plan these things in you will soon look and feel like some of your over worked clients who came to you for your help. Look after yourself, be aware of yourself and adjust your diary as you go. Remember, SMART goals are flexible and more achievable. Be flexible with yourself but commit to achieving your goals.
3. The Flu Gets You Every Time
You are not immune to everything! From time to time it is normal to feel ill as your immune system is exposed and rebuilds its strength. If you are consistently ill or it takes longer to recover, you and your immune system are suffering from overtraining. Overtraining refers to your body being in a catabolic state, stress hormones such as, Cortisol are higher than normal and will hinder; muscle growth, recovery, and your ability to fight infection.
Solution: Reduce; your own training, reflect on how well your sticking to your diary, adjust your diet to include sources of vitamin A and E, include glutamine, a branch chain amino acid (BCAA) that aids protein synthesis and can be lowered during times of stress and catabolic activity such as; not hitting your macros, high levels of stress, lack of sleep, and an unbalanced workload.
4. Increased Duration of DOMS.
Delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) is a precursor of progressive training overload and a sign that our training has resulted in microscopic muscle tears. During this period it is important to; rest those muscles, feed them, and give your body chance to restore its self. If you notice that this soreness lasts longer than 72 hours, you could be over training. You may also have set your percentage RMs or training volume to high for your body.
Solution: Firstly, revisit your personal training plan, this might not be set correctly, look at your; training volume, load, exercise selection, and duration of your workouts. You should be in and out in 45 to 60 minutes unless your training goal dictates. Secondly, ensure you are planning pre and post workout fuel. Try having whey protein, on hand to ensure your muscles get important protein quickly to workout and recover. Whey protein is quickly absorbed and ideal for post or pre workout fuel.
5. High Resting Heart Rate
Are you resting enough? Overworking or overtraining can result in a metabolic stress and increase your resting heart rate. Top UK athletes are monitored very closely, resting heart can provide insight to the effectiveness of training and the side effects of an athlete not recovering from their training regime.
Solution: Take your pulse consistently as you wake up and before you stand up. A reading 7bpm higher than normal indicates that you are overtraining and need to make some adjustments to your schedule. Readings that range from 3-4bpm are normal and are nothing to worry about. Technology is widely available to help you monitor this, wearable technology such as, Fitbit or Garmin are good examples for the more tech savvy trainer.
6. Your Muscles & Brain Are Thirsty
Can’t seem to drink enough? If this comes at a time of increased workload or training this could be a sign of overtraining. Overtraining results in a catabolic state and the breakdown of muscle. Muscles are 70% water and require water within the interstitial space for effective contractions to take place. When muscles lose water they lose the ability to effectively synthesise protein, resulting in a halt in progress, or loss of muscle mass. 2-3% dehydration can result in decreased aerobic performance; 3-4% dehydration can lead to losses of power and increase the risk of injury and fatigue. Just as important if not more, your brain is 85% water and requires plenty of it for the normal production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Nerve transmission requires one half of the brains energy, as little as 1% dehydration can result in a 5% loss of cognitive function (thinking speed). More worryingly a 2% reduction can result in a loss of short-term memory, reduced motivation and mental focus.
Solution: Drink plenty of water and get 8 full hours of sleep that week to help your body and mind restore itself. Drinking plenty of water will help avoid fatigue, focus issues, depression, anger, emotional instability, exhaustion, headaches, sleep issues, stress, and a lack of mental clarity. So, be SMART and drink plenty of water.
7. Lowered Self Esteem
For many of us training and delivering sessions gives us a sense of accomplishment. However, there is a balance between accomplishment and obsession. It is easy to fall into the trap of training every day or working every day to achieve your goals. The “more is better” approach is never a good path to follow. This can be detrimental and result in overtraining and a lowered self esteem. Overtraining or working can result in lower levels of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that helps; regulate mood, social behaviour, appetite, sleep, memory and other important functions. Low serotonin will increase the perceived feelings of effort and daily life, making things feel harder and lower motivation to complete daily tasks or goals.
Solution: Rest; Rest, Rest, for at least a week and reduce your training volume when you do get back to training. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and supplementing with 5-htp an hour before bed can help restore serotonin levels during deep restorative sleep. Add food sources containing serontin, such as eggs, cheese, tofu, salmon, nuts, and turkey. All that extra protein will come in handy to maintain your physique while you rest and recover. Keeping a positive frame of mind also helps, avoid negative thoughts and focus on the positive side of life. You can also plan a holiday in the sun, give yourself something to look forward to and all that extra sun can help boost your serotonin levels too! If the holiday is a bit to far away get out the gym for an hour and take in the sunshine.
There you have it, seven signs of overtraining, and probably more than seven solutions to preventing or beating it. The two key messages here are, one, work and train SMART. Doing this will help you maintain your motivation to deliver a quality service that will attract new clients. Two, Be aware of yourself, it is important to recognise changes in your psychology and physiology to stay on top of your game. If you can recognise these symptoms in yourself you will be able to recognise them in your clients or colleagues. At PTSkills, we are a team that look out for each other, when your working in a large PT team it is just as important to look out for each other, we all need support from time to time.
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W. Larry Kenney, Jack H. Wilmore, David L. Costill (2015). Phsyiology of Sport & Exercise, 6th Ed. Champaign, IL, United States, Human Kinetics.