Fit Savvy
Over train and you’ll see less gain
Published Thursday, 01-Oct-2009 in issue 1136
Your mind is made up and you are motivated. You go to the gym with a grandiose plan of either slimming down or improving your fitness level. You hop on the treadmill and bust a move, you sprint through a cycle class and leave everyone in awe and you hit the elliptical trainer and move it move it move it! Then you do enough bench presses and barbell curls to make even Arnold shake his head in amazement! You are on a workout mission. But, are you really doing yourself any good or is it all in vain? Sounds like a case of unidentified over-training.
More may be better when it comes to money, time off, good luck or good looks, but regularly working out more than your body needs is counterproductive. Overtraining happens when muscles are not given the necessary recovery time they need to “re-group” after an intense workout. You have to rest in order to progress. Adequate rest cycles after intense workouts will help your body fully recover glycogen storage in your muscles and liver, which is their main fuel source. Your body can’t continue to perform when it is depleted any more than you can drive your car without gas!
Think of it this way, if you cut your finger and each day the wound breaks open again, it will take a longer time to heal. It’s the same for your muscles. They have to have time to heal after a strenuous workout, otherwise regeneration cannot occur, performance plateaus and your risk for injury increases. In this case, if there is pain there may be no gain!
Of course you are going to be tired and somewhat sore after a great workout, but the extent of tiredness and soreness over a period of time can be a good indicator you are overtraining. If you consistently feel an overall lack of energy and your soreness doesn’t go away for a few days, you’ve definitely overdone it. You’ll need to back off and give your body a little “R and R” in order to recoup and recover.
Sometimes the desire to improve performance or lose weight is so strong that you may push yourself too hard to hit your goal. If you’ve never been good at pacing yourself, now is the time to learn. It’s like the difference between one tequila shot and three! (Need I say more?) You have to work out smarter not harder. I understand the craving for that endorphin high you get with a really intense workout and its ok to go balls-to-the-wall on occasion, but not every day.
You can also over train you body doing the same workout over and over again. You put your body at risk for injury repeating the same exercises each time you workout. It’s like the hamster running on its wheel, always moving diligently but not getting anywhere. You’ll give the word dumbbell a whole new meaning with this approach to your workout!
Become your own fitness mix master and change it up each week by incorporating all kinds of exercises into your regimen. Keep it fresh and interesting by challenging your body with new movements, intensities or classes. Hire a personal trainer, rent a workout video for new ideas or pick up a fitness magazine and learn the newest trends in the industry to keep you out of the exercise rut of “the same old thing”.
Give your body the time it needs to recover and you’ll keep coming back stronger. Remember to take days off between intense workouts and avoid training the same muscle groups on consecutive days. Your body is your temple. Treat it with respect and listen to what it’s telling you and you will reap the rewards of your workouts.
Connie Cook is the Group Fitness Director at Fit Athletic Club in Downtown San Diego. For more information about getting “fit” in your life, call 619-764-5348 or visit

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