7 Signs of Overtraining & What To Do About It

Medically Reviewed By | Dr. Kate Panawash, PT, NCS, DPT

You might be hurting your training progress without even realizing it. We all want to get the most progress from our workouts and maximize our results, but sometimes pushing ourselves is doing more harm than good. Still, athletes can end up pushing their bodies more than they should and end up overtraining.

It is such a common problem that it is often referred to as overtraining syndrome (OTS). OTS can lead to muscle injury, stress fractures, illness, and more. Altogether, overtraining is counterproductive for your workout progress, but knowing the signs can help you stay healthy and make the most out of your workouts.

What Are the Signs of Overtraining in Your Workouts?

Whether you are a seasoned athlete or just someone who loves the gym, it can be hard to know when to tone it down. Fortunately, you can catch when you are overtraining by being mindful of just a few signs. 

The following are some of the most common symptoms of overtraining.

1. Consistent Muscle Soreness

Sore muscles, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), are one of the most common overtraining symptoms. This condition can affect both experienced athletes and beginners alike and is most common when rushing into new activities or at the beginning of a training season.

This soreness is thought to result from several factors, including lactic acid buildup, connective tissue damage, and more. Soreness is a natural response to a new exercise or a sudden increase in intensity. 

However, the soreness should disappear after a few days as your muscles recover and adjust to the activity. If your muscles are consistently sore, you are likely overreaching your training goals.

2. Slower Recovery Time

As we work toward fitness goals, it is crucial to schedule adequate recovery time, especially if you notice that your muscles still feel worn out after a training period. After more intense workouts, it is natural to need a bit more time to recover. However, if your recovery times don’t reduce or begin to see a pattern of longer and longer recovery times, then you are likely training too hard.

3. Performance Plateaus

When we see our performance start to decrease or our progress start to slow, we often use it as a sign that we need to push harder. However, it could be just the opposite. If you are overtraining, your body doesn’t have enough time to recover and build new muscle. 

As a result, you stop seeing progress, and your performance starts to flatten out. In some cases, you may start seeing a decrease in your performance. If your muscles can’t keep up, it’s probably because of excessive fatigue or overuse. “Some ideas to combat are to reduce sessions in a week (i.e., 4x down to 3x) to allow for more time between sessions or change the type of activity to something less intense (like Olympic lifting to pilates or yoga),” notes Katelyn Panawash, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS).

4. Lack of Energy or Chronic Fatigue

Overtraining can affect not just your exercise performance but other aspects of your daily life as well. Training too much can eventually lead to burnout and leave you struggling to maintain energy during your day-to-day routine. 

If you find yourself constantly tired at work or don’t have the same energy for your other hobbies but are still exercising the same amount, you may have found the culprit.

5. Decreased Motivation

Another common sign of overtraining is that you struggle to make it to the gym or do a quick cardio session, and you lack the motivation and excitement it takes to get going. We all have days where we don’t feel like going to the gym every now and then, but if it becomes a pattern, it might be a sign that your body is asking you to slow down.

6. Hormone Imbalance

Your body relies on stress hormones to tell it how to respond to various situations. The two most important are cortisol and epinephrine. Overtraining makes the bodyproduce cortisol consistently

Too much cortisol can lead to muscle breakdown, higher cravings for sugar, increased belly fat, and more. A hormone imbalance can also affect your mental health, causing mood swings, difficulty managing stressors, irritability, and even difficulty concentrating.

7. Health

Overtraining will do more than just leave you tired and mentally exhausted. It can have many tangible physical effects, affecting the cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems. Overdoing it can haveseveral physical symptoms, like excessive weight loss, increased blood pressure, and a higher resting heart rate.

Other effects of overtraining include loss of appetite, irregular menstrual cycles, and digestive issues. Excessive training can even take a toll on your immune system, leading to a higher risk of catching colds or other diseases. Altogether, skipping rest days is not worth it, and it is crucial to catch signs of overtraining early to prevent further injury. “Reach out to your primary care if you are experiencing these symptoms to see if ruling out other causes outside of overtraining is advised,” notes Panawash. 

How To Avoid Overtraining

If you are worried about the risks of overtraining, then being mindful of your training habits is key. Besides, it is never a bad idea to consider tips that can help improve your workout results in general. 

Fortunately, if you are thoughtful about structuring your training program and keeping the following tips in mind, you can avoid the risks and support your overall wellness.

Keep a Good Schedule

When developing your training program, finding a healthy balance between pushing yourself with high-intensity workouts and giving yourself enough rest to maintain high performance is a good idea. “Working with a professional like a certified personal trainer or Physical Therapist is a way to get expert creation and evaluation of exercise programs,” Panawash adds.

Try to schedule your most intense training sessions and your lighter workouts back-to-back so that you are not exerting all of your energy in two straight days. Know when cross-training is a good idea and when it might be too much exertion.

Make sure to schedule rest periods as well. Rest is the best solution to overtraining and should be just as respected in your training program as exercise. You should incorporate at least one to two weekly rest days, depending on your body and training program. Quality sleep should also be part of this schedule.

Nourish Your Body

Our body runs on the calories and nutrients we get from food, so if you are frequently exercising, you need to ensure you are getting enough of them to support the extra activity. Carbohydrates and protein are vital for giving yourself the fuel your body needs. “If you have additional questions or unique circumstances, work with a Dietitian,” Panawash says.

Nourishing your body includes drinking water. After all, our bodies are 70 percent water. Hydrating is one of the most important things you can do to support your muscle function and recovery for more productive workouts.

By getting enough calories and carbs for energy, enough water, and adequate rest, you can provide your body with the fuel to stay energetic and keep up with the demands of your workouts.

Listen to Your Body

Athletes know their bodies the best. Consulting with a personal trainer on when to rest is a good strategy, but combine their advice with your own judgment. 

Only you know when your body is exhausted and needs time to recover, and it will certainly tell you. Especially as you become experienced in your area of exercise, you will know how your body reacts to different workouts.

Still, be honest with yourself and know the difference between challenging yourself and overreaching. If you feel that you might not be able to exercise on a given day, you probably shouldn’t.

Support Your Muscles

Recovery is one of the most necessary parts of your training program and should not be substituted. However, using the right tools and strategies can make your recovery time both faster and more valuable. 

Warm baths, ice packs, and stretching are all excellent strategies for supporting muscle recovery in sports medicine. One of the best ways to support your muscles is to useIncrediwear products that optimize your body’s natural recovery process.

Incrediwear offers sleeves, braces, andbandages withsemiconductor technology that help to increase blood flow, oxygen flow, and nutrient transfer to your target muscles.

You can use Incrediwear products bothduring your workout and during recovery periods. By increasing the blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, you can maximize their performance during activity and speed up their recovery to get back to doing your favorite activities sooner.

Maximize Your Training With Incrediwear

By paying attention to the warning signs for overtraining, you can protect yourself from injury and keep yourself on track for the progress you are happy with. You can set yourself up for sustained success with the right training program and the proper support.

Whatever your favorite activity, Incrediwear can help. We support all athletes, including cyclists, basketball players, runners, and beyond. 

Our semiconductor technology is designed to support you and your muscles in achieving their maximum performance.Explore our complete collection of sleeves and braces to support your progress.


Delayed onset muscle soreness: treatment strategies and performance factors | PMC

How Much Exercise is Too Much? | University Health News

Overtraining Syndrome | PMC

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