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Sometimes, the inspiration to get fit and healthy can really take hold. But you can overdo it, as the co-founder of luxury gym SOMA Collection, Simon Anderson, explains.
The fitness industry has long preached that to get better, faster, stronger, you have to go harder. Maybe working out twice in one day is going to get you results quicker? Not necessarily, and it can even have to the opposite effect.
The point is that it’s easy to overdo it. Running yourself ragged can actually be detrimental to your health, so it’s important to identify the signs of possible overtraining.
“Overtraining occurs normally in weights training, but can also be running or cycling, in any form of excessive exercise,” says Simon Anderson, the co-founder of luxury gym SOMA Collection.
“We must remember that exercise is a form of stress on the body and can increase your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) when you overdo it.”
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He adds: “Most people underestimate the importance of recovery; it’s as nearly important as the training itself.”
Yes, we might read about professional athletes, even actors preparing for a role, who hit the gym multiple times a day, but Anderson says there’s something they usually don’t tell you: “They will also sleep during the day, have a massage or physio and make sure they are eating way more food than the average person.”
What to look for
Signs of overtraining include fatigue and lethargy, sore muscles, poor sleep, and yes, a decline in your performance, says Anderson. It can even result in an irregular menstrual cycle, increased blood pressure, constipation, and diarrhea.
How do I prevent overtraining?
The easiest way is to cut back on your training and take more rest/recovery days, says Anderson.
“This doesn’t mean that you have to do nothing, it may be going for a light walk or a swim – just nothing too strenuous on your body while it is recovering from the overtraining,” he explains.
“These are also known as de-load weeks where you can reduce the amount of resistance you are lifting to give the body more time to repair.”
If you have pushed yourself too far, you can help your strained body repair by eating more plant-based foods and increasing your protein.
“Protein is your main repairing agent when it comes to muscle damage and soreness,” says Anderson.
“Other great options would be getting more sleep, infrared saunas, ice baths, remedial massage, stretching or yoga.”
Simon Anderson is a qualified chef, personal trainer, and the co-founder of luxury gym SOMA Collection.