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Let’s talk Overtraining.

A taboo subject you might say.

A subject that is personal and very individual.

The truth is that if we do too much exercise it can reduce the gains (or “Gainz”), we made in the first place. Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) is the clinical term associated with: ‘prolonged maladaptation to exercise which occurs when the volume and intensity of exercise exceeds recovery capacity’ aka Overdoing It.

The key takeaway from this is to go slow and steady when increasing your training.

A bit like the hare and the tortoise. For most of us, we can’t become elite athletes overnight.



How can I tell if I’m doing too much?

  • Decreased performance…not hitting those PB’s
  • Lowered immunity e.g. getting regular colds with prolonged recovery
  • Constantly tired
  • Poor sleep
  • Not wanting to train
  • Slow recovery from exercise (those DOMs last for longer)
  • Increased injury
  • Muscle wastage
  • Reduced reproductive function…periods become irregular or stop, lowered sex drive etc.



From a nutritional perspective OTS is linked to poor diet and negative energy balance; a challenge athletes face time and time again. Not getting enough food to meet their energy needs and not getting enough nutrients to support their body’s needs.What can I do?

  • Make sure you are getting enough energy (food) to meet your needs
  • Eat a nutrient dense diet rich in wholefoods, good quality protein, fat and carbohydrate
  • Processed foods should be treats…not a way of life!
  • Do not use exercise as an excuse to eat a processed treat
  • Get enough sleep…your body is hard at work when you are getting shut eye so don’t take it for granted
  • Know when to rest and recover…listen to your body’s signs
  • If you are coming down with something, it’s time to rest…
  • Have easier training days…you can’t train at 110% 365 days a year
  • If you are ill, it is time to rest
  • If you are really stressed, controversially, it is not always time to blow off steam; long periods of stress are going to have the same effect as overtraining



In theory this all sounds simple however when you have PB’s to hit and are working to a programme within a great community of like-minded individuals, it can be hard to say no to a training session.What else can I do???

This again should be simple but many of us are faced with the opportunity to rest and simply feel lost so here are some ideas that might help:

  • Put your feet up…as simple as that…although easier said than done
  • Do planned stretching: ROMwod and yoga are great ways of taking a day off
  • Have a massage
  • Batch cook – use the time when you are not training to make sure your diet is on point
  • Have a nap, scientific studies have shown that micro-napping can increase longevity
  • Get outside, walk in nature, soak up some rays (20 minutes of sun exposure with bare forearms is enough to get your recommended vitamin D per day)
  • Meditate – apps like Headspace are great tools if you don’t know where to start.




  • Omega 3 fatty acids!!! These decrease inflammation for overtraining and help to reduce muscle wastage. See last week’s article for more details
  • Flavonoids aka plant chemicals found in fruit and vegetable reduce oxidative stress and aid muscle recovery so don’t forget to eat the rainbow!
  • Vitamin C supports muscle repair and can reduces circulating cortisol and adrenaline (fight or flight hormones)
  • B vitamins are involved in energy production and can improve fatigue. Eggs, oats and wholegrains are great sources
  • Magnesium, found in dark leafy greens (to name but one food) can reduce muscle cramps, aid sleep, promote protein synthesis and protect against oxidative stress
  • Zinc, supports muscle repair, strength, immunity and hormone production. Lentils, oats and chicken thigh are all great sources
  • Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) decrease during exercise so a good quality protein powder or BCAA powder will help to stimulate protein synthesis