Athletes can develop overtraining syndrome. The main symptoms are fatigue and a declining physical performance.
How can we avoid overtraining, and still get the most out of an exercise program like Sprint 8? The specific answer depends on the individual. Yet one general solution is appropriate for all: Balance your training and recovery.
What does a balanced program look like?
When you think of recovery, you may be tempted to simplify it down to time. Yes, we need time to recover. Other crucial elements are also needed:
- Nutrition: Every workout you complete relies on many vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are used by the cells of your body to produce energy. As you recover, your body will heal your muscles, delivering the building blocks to grow. This also demands excellent nutrition, especially protein. Studies suggest that athletes tend to eat less overall calories than their bodies need. And most female athletes do not consume enough carbohydrates or iron to replenish their bodies. Without adequate fuel, active people may notice low workout motivation and slower workout recoveries, which are particularly common in endurance athletes and distance runners.
- Sleep: One of the most important elements of daily health is sleep. Without adequate sleep, your body will have prolonged inflammation periods that slow your workout recoveries. Athletes often have sleep impairments during intense training and competition, and it hinders their performance. Even if you sleep over 7 hours a night, research suggests that extending your sleep time by 30 minutes to one hour can benefit athletic performance. It is best to stick to a pre-bed ritual. See your physician to address any sleep concerns, especially if you snore or have sleep apnea as these reduce the restorative benefits of sleep.
- Stress: Even though exercise can alleviate some stress-related issues, exercise itself is a type of stressor. If your daily life includes major challenges, such as grief, loss, or interpersonal conflict, consider a lighter workout plan until your energy and motivation recover. Higher stress is often reported in athletes after injury, due to time constraints, and based on a desire to remain highly competitive.
What changes when we overdo exercise training?
Exercise performance declines when we over-train. It is frustrating, especially for competitive individuals. And studies confirm that hormonal and inflammatory changes make exercise feel more effortful.
- Growth Hormone: The most consistent finding among overtraining studies is a reduction in Human Growth Hormone. This hormone may help us build muscle, so Growth Hormone is crucial for exercise adaptations!
- Cortisol: Several studies point to higher cortisol during overtraining, though not all athletes may experience it. As a stress-related hormone, cortisol helps us cope with challenges. But when cortisol remains elevated, it impairs memory and can depress mood.
Track your exercise program to change it.
One of the most important approaches for every athlete is to track their workouts and other aspects of self-care. This can include their sleep, nutrition, and stress-releasing habits.
About the Author
Karlie Intlekofer, PhD, CNC, CPT,
Global Wellness Researcher
As the Global Wellness Researcher at Johnson Health Tech, Karlie uses evidence-based practices to develop exercise programming and initiatives to support healthier daily habits. As a neuroscientist specializing in behavior and exercise science, she focuses on the benefits of exercise, nutrition and habit formation for brain health and well-being. Karlie earned her doctorate in Neuroscience and Behavior and bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science.
“Sprint 8 is a tried and true workout that can rapidly and radically change your body for the better. It’s simple. It’s effective. And you’re going to love what it does to your body.”