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Fit 4 Life | Signs you are training too hard

Published:Wednesday | February 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarvin Gordon
When you start training in a way that does not give you enough time and resources to recover, you are over-reaching or over-taxing.

So you have decided it's time to shed that stubborn bit of belly fat. What's more, you want it done in four weeks; you know that if you workout six times a week you can do it.

This is a dangerous line of thinking, though. Adding – or starting off with – massive amounts of exercise volume without accounting for recovery is a recipe for disaster. It can lead to overtraining. 

Are you really overtraining though? What is overtraining?

Well, it's not as simple as it sounds. You might not be in the realm of full-on overtraining syndrome even though you might be over-reaching or over-taxing yourself. 

Full-on over-training is not very common. Overreaching is the door which leads to overtraining. When you start training in a way that does not give you enough time and resources to recover, you are over-reaching or over-taxing.

Over time, over-taxing – especially when compounded by other factors, for example stress – will lead to overtraining. 

Signs of overtraining include:

Prolonged soreness

Muscle soreness is normal when training, but prolonged soreness – over 72 hours – might signal a time to take a break and/or double down on nutrition.

Aches and pains

One of the earliest signs of overtraining is usually the odd aches and pains. These range from joint pains to muscle aches, which worsen or spread over time.

Elevated resting heart rate

Overtraining can cause spikes in resting heart rate. Training usually lowers resting heart rate over time, so if you find yourself with raised resting heart rate, slow down. A visit to a doctor wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Getting sick often

That cold you’ve had since you started training so hard could be a warning sign. Overtraining weakens the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infections.

Frequent injuries

When you over train, your body does not have enough time to recover from each session, leaving you more susceptible to injuries. 

Irritability, depression, loss of motivation

Overtraining has been shown to hurt self-esteem, and affect mood and might even cause depression.


Overtraining leaves you in a state of nervous system and/or hormonal system overload. The result: restlessness and broken sleep patterns.

No progress

Whatever your training goals, overtraining will put a stop to all improvements and may even lead to regression. You might find yourself getting fatter, weaker, or losing muscle.

Measuring your resting heart rate

To measure your heart rate, you need to check your pulse. 

Check the pulse at your neck – the carotid pulse – by placing your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, which is located on the thumb side of your wrist.

Use a stopwatch or timer. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to calculate your beats a minute. To get your resting heart rate, do this first thing in the morning. 

* Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;