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It is very common for people just starting out on a new training program to overtrain in an attempt to improve their fitness levels at a faster pace than the recommended one.
However, this will only end up in unwanted body injuries. Especially when not enough time is left for rest in between sessions of strenuous exercise, this could result in muscle injuries, sprains and bodily pains.
Most people are under the wrong impression that overtraining will enhance their muscle growth whereas on the other hand, this will hinder it as after strenuous exercise, muscles need time to re-grow and recover and if they are not given this recovery time, this will actually prevent further growth.
Overtraining will also lead to fatigue which will in turn decrease performance levels and result in rapid weight loss, all of which will eventually lead to weakening of the immune system leading to health problems including flu and colds.
How To Diagnose Overtraining
A really good technique to find out if you are overtraining is to record your heart rates on three consecutive mornings.
On the first morning, record your heart rate first thing in the morning. Then take two days off from training and take your heart rate reading on the next two consecutive mornings, first thing in the morning. If your original reading is five or more beats faster than the other two readings, then you are overtraining and need to slow down your training a little.
Overtraining can also lead to psychological effects if nothing is done about it because physical and mental fitness are directly related. Reduced strength and fatigue can lower confidence levels, cause lack of interest in daily activities and cause stress and anxiety.
Follow Guided Training Instead
There are several ways to avoid overtraining. One of the main ways is to follow a guided training program such as training DVDs which come with most training program these days. If this is not possible, getting a personal trainer’s advice on devising a good training program is paramount. These days, this advice can be obtained free from the fitness trainers in your nearby gym or even online with some research.
Rest & Sleep Are Important
In order to allow your muscles to repair themselves and then grow, rest and sleep is very important. If you are doing a decent amount of exercise daily (1-2 hours), you should aim to get at least 8-10 hours of sleep a night to ensure adequate recovery and growth. If you are one who snores, then you might want to invest in a device to stop your snoring so you do get the restful sleep you need.
Combined with rest and sleep, you should ensure that your training program is complemented by a good nutrition plan. Most DVD workout programs these days come with a nutrition plan as this is important if you want to get the best results as it gives your body the right nutrients to ensure quick and full recovery and to also provide you with enough energy for your workouts.
Use Good Supplements
The other addition to your diet needs to be some sort of supplement. Protein shakes and protein bars are good diet supplements and so are vitamin pills to fill any deficiencies in protein and essential vitamins such as Omega 3 oils.
These supplements/vitamins should always be taken straight after strenuous exercise. Then allow between one to two hours before having a meal. These protein shakes or bars can also be good snacks in between meals as they will stop you from going for unhealthy snack options.
Do Fewer Workouts
You should try and have less workouts during a set week. Some people believe that they have to workout five or six times a week to achieve the fitness levels they require, when the same effect can be achieved by having a workout only 3 times a week.
People who train more than 3 times a week are usually trying to work different muscle groups at each workout whereas in a intense workout, diversity is important. You should ensure that all muscle groups get a good workout to ensure a balanced workout.
Allow some time for cardio exercises also as this will strength your stamina. They key here is to leave a gap of at least a day or two in between intense workouts as this will allow better fitness levels and faster muscle growth.
You should always start off with a slow tempo in all workouts and then move on to a faster tempo. This will allow adequate warm up of all muscles. It is also important to introduce some variety in your workout program to avoid boredom. This could be simple things like changing your workout location or changing the music you listen to or trying out new exercises sometimes.
If you do feel that you have overtrained in a week and are as a result suffering from sprains or strains, it is very important to take some rest.
I would suggest eight to ten days with no strenuous workouts. This is because if you do not allow this recovery time, your next workout will be a waste of time as your body will not be ready and never mind muscle recovery, you will be doing your body more harm.
The above tips will ensure that you get a well toned body whilst minimizing injuries and health problems.