Consequences Of Overtraining - Tips To Avoid Overtraining

Every fitness freak trains (whether professional or amateur) to get stronger and  improve performance. Increased performance; can be achieved through increased training loads. Hold on here. There’s a small correction in the statement. Progressive increases in training load can benefit improvement in athletic performance. Too much overload or inadequate recovery can result in maladaptation to training. Pushing yourself beyond your capacity to recover can lead to ‘overtraining’ which is neither healthy for your body nor mind.
You’ll learn in this blog about overtraining, the causes and consequences of overtraining, and how to avoid it…

What Is Overtraining?

overtraining syndrome

Overtraining is a maladapted response to excessive workouts without adequate rest. When the prolonged training strain exceeds an individual’s recovery capacity, there occurs a condition in the trainee when he/she experiences perturbations of multiple body systems (neurologic, endocrinologic, immunologic) coupled with mood changes and reduced performance. This condition is called overtraining. Overtraining is associated with any fitness program from running to resistance exercise and can happen with both men and women.

Feeling sore or drained for a day or two after a tough training session is a sign of fatigue. Continued perception of muscle soreness, increased exertion during workouts, hypertension, restlessness, a lack of refreshed feeling after workouts, a decline in enthusiasm for training, decreased motivation for exercise may all be the symptoms of overtraining.

Overtraining without the right balance of rest or recovery could be counterproductive. How to know you are pushing too far?


Primary Symptoms & Consequences Of Overtraining

Persistent Muscle Fatigue

muscle recovery

A few hours of fatigue is expected but if fatigue will accumulate in the body and never has a chance to recover from the previous workout, it causes exhaustion, irritability, constant fatigue.

Prolonged exertion can cause the nervous system to go into overdrive and reduce cognitive performance and exercise performance. Heavy training decreases levels of BCAA due to increased oxidation. This condition favours tryptophan entry into the brain and conversion into serotonin. As per studies, an increase in the central ratio of serotonin is associated with the feeling of accelerated perceived exertion, mental fatigue, and decreased motivation. During high-intensity exercise, lactate production is several times more than resting levels. Lactate is formed when the body breaks down carbs for energy when oxygen levels are low. High lactate level is associated with increased release of hydrogen ions which causes increased muscle acidosis and muscle fatigue.

Persistent Muscle Soreness

muscle and joint pain

Mild soreness after a workout is very common, but acute muscle soreness is caused by a buildup of lactic acid. Muscle soreness should generally come down within 72 hours, if you are experiencing muscle soreness for longer than this period, it could be a sign of overtraining. Your inflammatory response will get amplified with continued intense training. If you don’t allow time for recovery, it will have a negative impact on muscle gains and can lead to muscle loss. Resting markers of oxidative stress are higher in overtrained individuals. When oxidative stress markers increase with exercise in overtrained athletes, it leads to increased inflammation, muscle soreness with resultant inhibition of athletic performance. Repetitive muscle contraction and joint action may cause microtrauma to tissues. With continued intense training and the absence of adequate rest, the inflammatory response can become amplified.

Low Immune

low immune

Overtraining taxes your body’s system and makes it more difficult to ward off infections. Following increased training load, several aspects of innate and adaptive immunity are depressed (marked reduction in neutrophil function, lymphocyte proliferation, and a number of circulating T cells). If you are continually pushing your body over the point of exhaustion, your immune system is likely to suffer. The accumulation of excessive stress leads to the production of proinflammatory cytokines that can alter the function of your central nervous system, which can affect the immune system. Also, decreased glutamine levels following heavy training may be responsible for the increased incidence of respiratory tract infections in overtrained individuals.

Impaired Sleep       

stress response to exercise

Sleep is an essential component of an athlete’s recuperation from the physiological and psychological effects of training sessions. Low- intensity exercise will not result in a significant increase in cortisol levels, however, increases in training load have been associated with sleep disturbances. Inflammatory cytokines will act on the brain to cause decreased appetite, sleep disturbances, mood swings. Overproduction of stress hormones and inflammatory cytokines pertaining to increased training load will cause a decline in sleep quantity and quality. When you exercise in the morning, exercises cause a short-term spike in cortisol, which will coincide with your body’s natural daily cortisol fluctuation. On the other hand, exercising in the evening may cause your cortisol levels to increase right when they should be decreasing as your body winds down for sleep.

Increased Resting Heart Rate

overtraining syndrome increased resting heart rateOvertraining may impact heart rate immediately after exercise. If you are practicing a conditioned workout session, your heart rate will return to the normal following exercise. A normal resting heart rate for adults should range from 60 to 100 bpm. Combined stress (physical and psychological) can exacerbate the cardiovascular responses and contribute to elevated heart rate following exercise.  A high level of stress can cause an increase in cortisol levels, when your cortisol levels remain high for a prolonged period of time, it can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to remain elevated even after exercise. Persistent surges of adrenaline can damage your blood vessels, increase your blood pressure and impact your health in a negative way.

How To Avoid The Consequences Of Overtraining?

Just listen to your body – do not procrastinate resting and recovery phase.

Alternate hard and easy days.

Overtraining is worse than undertraining - do not train the same muscle group daily.

The intensity and volume of training should be increased gradually and systematically.

If you witness any of the symptoms of overtraining, take a good amount of rest and keep away from training for some time.

Prioritize adequate nutritional intake and work on reducing all forms of stress.


When you train, you break your muscles, and your muscles start to rebuild, but when you train hard again right away, you never get to the point where you’re fully recovering and gaining strength… 

Want to get fitter or fall flat? It’s all there in how wisely you balance training with time for recovery…



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