Symptoms, Treatments, And Recovery Of Overtraining

Are you making a full effort when exercising and seeing diminishing rewards or even going backwards? Do you frequently face issues with bronchitis, tendonitis, or any other kind of inflammatory disorder? Your typical strong excitement for exercises may have diminished to only a trace.

Here are a few indicators that may point to overtraining syndrome (OTS), and it is possible to experience them even if you are not a competitive athlete.


In the most recent version of the NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (7th ed., Jones & Bartlett 2022), Sutton (2022) defines overtraining syndrome as a condition of exhaustion, decreasing athletic ability and feeling worn out.

Excessive training can be linked with any kind of sports or exercise program—ranging from jogging to group activities to weightlifting—and it is something that can happen regardless of age. In 2007, paediatricians observed an increase in overtraining syndrome among children and adolescents who engage in competitive sports (Brenner, 2007).

One can think of overtraining as a range of cases, going from the occasional period of working too hard to a constant condition of not getting enough rest lasting for a long time.

To help avoid going down that road, here are a few things to consider before beginning any workout:

  • Did you sleep well last night?
  • Was your a.m. resting heart rate regular (for you)?
  • Have you taken in enough nutrition and fluids today?

If the responses to any of these queries—or more than one query—are negative, it is an outstanding day to reverse the intensity. Do I consider today a good opportunity to risk a lot? Consider these queries, too:

  • Are you battling any major life stressors?
  • Are you dreading the workout or thinking about skipping it?
  • Do you feel more sore or achy than usual?
  • Do you have an illness or injury?

Signs of Overtraining

Most people have experienced a feeling of fatigue, aching, and rigidity after a training session, particularly when beginning something new or increasing their workout intensity, amount, or another factor. A few of these warning signs can start a few hours following an exercise routine, but they are usually gone in a few days.

After taking a break, giving their body time to rest and replenish, the athlete usually feels revived and energized to start their next workout (Sutton, 2022; Davis et al., 2020).

The signs of overtraining can be protracted as well as multiple in range. They may include:

Exercise-related symptoms of overtraining:

A plateau or decline in workout performance or progress.

The feeling of having to work harder than usual during “normal” or “easy” physical activities.

Excessive sweating or overheating.

Unusual feelings of heaviness, stiffness, or soreness in muscles.

No sense of revitalization after normal rest and relaxation.

Recurrent trouble with muscles, tendons, bones, and persistent joint agony, such as strains, inflammation of the tendons, stress fractures, and joint discomfort.

A reduction in enthusiasm for physical activity such as jumping rope or giving up exercise.

Physical, mental, and emotional changes due to overtraining:

Continual feelings of tiredness, burnout, or lack of strength all day long.

A decline in motivation and/or self-confidence.

Failure to take pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable or indications of depression.

Unusual psychological states such as agitation, rage, perplexity, resentment, and uneasiness.

Issues with sleeping, such as lack of sleep and poor sleep quality, have recently surfaced.

Difficulties with maintaining focus and succeeding in professional or academic endeavours.

Systemic health concerns of overtraining:

A malady-like look, including adjustments to skin, hair, and nails (for example, pimples or balding).

A rise in the heart rate and/or pressure when at rest.

Unplanned/undesired weight loss or weight gain or disordered eating.

Stomach troubles, for example, difficulty passing stools, passing stools too often, lack of appetite, and extra thirst.

There may be a reduction in sexual desire and disruption to monthly periods, including abnormal timings and the absence of them.

Constant cases of sickness, such as the common cold and diseases of the upper airways.

1. Not eating enough

People who do the heavy lifting and stick to a vigorous workout routine may consume fewer calories. This can negatively affect health and performance. If your body is using up its energy sources regularly, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies like anaemia.

Serious health issues can develop that impact your heart and blood vessels, digestive organs, and hormones. It is conceivable to see issues with the nervous and reproductive systems, including a lack of menstruation or erratic menstrual cycles.

2. Soreness, strain, and pain

Exerting yourself beyond your capabilities during a hard-hitting interval training workout can cause muscle discomfort and soreness. Overstressing your body can cause soreness and injuries. You may experience microtears in your muscles as well.

3. Overuse injuries

Engaging in running regimens too frequently can result in overuse injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and plantar fasciitis. Injuries caused by excessive use can also include sprains in joints, fractures, and damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Rigorous movements, like running, can be rough on the body and cause strain and wear. Taking a break from any and all forms of exercise is recommended if you have an injury, so that your body may heal.

4. Fatigue

It is common to experience exhaustion following a workout session, yet feelings of extreme fatigue come about when one does not adequately restore their strength after exercise. You may experience a severe lack of energy, particularly during or shortly after exercising.

Fatigue can also become an issue if you habitually don’t consume enough sustenance before your workout. Your body then needs to draw upon its stocks of carbohydrates, protein, and fat for energy.

5. Reduced appetite and weight loss

Working out usually leads to a healthy appetite. However, exercising excessively can lead to disruption in hormone levels which can in turn alter one’s appetite. OTS can cause exhaustion, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

6. Irritability and agitation

Excessive exercising can have an impact on your cortisol levels, which can result in depression, mental fatigue, and shifts in attitude. It is possible that you may feel agitated and unable to focus or seem interested.

7. Persistent injuries or muscle pain

Evidence of overexertion may include enduring muscle soreness and wounds that don’t mend. Injuries that remain with you for a long period or that keep coming back might be recurring or persistent.

Rest between workouts is vital to recovery. When excessive strain is put on one’s body, it becomes more difficult for it to recover.

8. Decline in performance

Overtraining can lead to a stagnant level of performance or even a decline instead of progression. You may lack the power, dexterity, and stamina to achieve what you aim to do in terms of your training. Training too intensively can impede your reflexes and the speed of your sprint.

9. Workouts feel more challenging

If you are dealing with OTS, your exercise regimen might seem to require more persistence and hard work to get through. It might seem like you’re putting in a lot more effort than normal, though your body is actually performing its tasks at the same rate.

While you exercise, you may notice your pulse rate is higher than usual, and your baseline heart rate during the day could also be higher than normal. It may take longer for your pulse to go back to normal after you are done working out.

10. Disturbed sleep

If your body’s stress hormones are unbalanced, it can be difficult to loosen up and ease the tension before going to sleep. This greatly reduces the important hours your body requires to relax, heal, and replenish itself while snoozing. A lack of good rest can cause persistent tiredness and modifications in one’s temperament.

11. Decreased immunity or illness

In addition to feeling drained and exhausted, you may notice that you get sick more frequently. You may be likely to suffer from contagious diseases, minor sicknesses, and infections of the nose, throat, and windpipe.

12. Weight gain

Engaging in physical activity excessively without providing adequate time for recovery can result in diminished levels of testosterone and a heightened concentration of cortisol, the hormone that’s associated with stress. There is often a connection between alterations in hormones and the reduction of muscle mass, the addition of extra weight, and increased abdominal fat.

13. Loss of motivation

It can be challenging to keep your motivation up when it comes to working out. It may be caused by mental or physical fatigue, dissatisfaction with fitness progress, or absence of pleasure. No matter what, attempt to create beneficial alterations so that you can be motivated once more.

It is critical to communicate with a medical care provider regarding any new or abnormal indicators that may emerge since a lot of the warning signs of overtraining can be comparable to those of particular health conditions (e.g. asthma, anaemia, depression, and diabetes).

Athletes should be aware of an uncommon and potentially fatal malady known as rhabdomyolysis which can arise from a strenuous workout that is strong enough to split the muscle fibres, triggering a hazardous biological chain reaction inside the body.

Tools for identifying overtraining

This list can assist you in creating awareness (or prompt a revelation), but its subjectivity must be taken into account. Athletes might overlook certain signs or brush them off–they could even think that their medical issues don’t happen as regularly, or often, or are less serious than they actually are.

People who are obsessed with working out or whose job or identity is strongly tied to their physical activity can especially be at risk. The purpose is to suggest that using more unbiased criteria can be beneficial.

Medical professionals like researchers, healthcare providers, and fitness experts might advocate blood testing to inspect levels of minerals (electrolytes and iron, for example), hormones (for instance, cortisol, thyroid hormones, and testosterone), and some other indicators (including blood count and inflammation markers).

Fitness journal and/or app

Maintaining a thorough log of your workouts (like the amount of resistance/weight, the interval of time and the number of sets/reps, etc.) allows you to compare your present and historical performance with ease. Athletes have the option to log information regarding their sleeping habits, diet, hurt, sickness, and other metrics if they wish.

Modern technology (such as apps, smartwatches, and tracking programs) and more traditional forms (including a handwritten journal) are both viable options. People taking part should choose a technique they will most probably follow.

Performance assessments

Carrying out assessments regularly can create a useful starting point to make comparisons. This is a task that qualified personal trainers undertake when initially meeting a customer, and additionally, they continue to do it regularly afterwards. It is beneficial to assess cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, and stamina.

Ratings of perceived exertion 

The rating of perceived exertion assigns numbers on a scale from 1 to 10 (or sometimes 1 to 20) to various levels of effort. This can be utilized while any fitness routine is being conducted.

The number picked should illustrate how the individual feels in general. Logging these findings can aid in recognizing shifts in a believed physical effort that could be linked to overtraining.

Heart rate and blood pressure

People who are physically fit typically have lower resting heart rates, but they can increase if they are doing too much exercise.

A lot of health trackers can automatically track your pulse, which makes it effortless to determine your Resting Heart Rate. If you would rather not use the automatic feature, measuring your pulse on your wrist is an uncomplicated process. It is recommended to make your measurement of beats per minute right before you rise from your bed in the morning; this can be achieved by counting your beats in ten seconds and multiplying this number by 6.

Excessive training may result in an increase in both resting heart rate and blood pressure, which can be tracked at home. A healthcare professional can recommend a trustworthy brand of the monitor and describe the appropriate goals that should be adhered to, as each person’s targets are different.

Post-exercise heart rate, the rate of a person’s heart immediately following exercise, may be affected negatively by overtraining. This is used to determine how much time passes until the heart rate returns to its resting state after engaging in physical activity.

People who are physically fit usually recover their resting heart rate more rapidly than those who are not in shape. If it takes an unusually long time to recover, that could be an indication of a lack of conditioning.

Risk assessment

It has already been made clear that overtraining can occur even if someone doesn’t exercise too hard or pay enough attention to rest. It appears that unexpected elements can increase the chance of someone experiencing overtraining.

Including following a repetitive regimen, engaging in a single exercise or game, having endured a medical issue or accident (even if it has healed), having participated in a demanding event or practice session (like getting a black belt), facing a major life occurrence like transferring, death, breakup, job loss or job shift, or even something positive such as the birth or adoption of a baby.

Climate factors such as height above sea level, warmth, moisture, and even the difference between time zones can have an effect on the body’s ability to restore itself from exercise. The more variables involved, the more likely it is that the athlete should adapt their training regimen so they do not do too much.


Several treatments and home remedies can promote healing. Rest is the most important factor. Relax and take a break from all activities. Slow down in all areas of your life.

Get a professional massage that specifically works on strained muscles. Choose a deep-tissue or sports massage to protect against injury and ease muscle tension. If you can’t get a massage from a trained therapist, you can do a self-massage by utilizing special oils or topical muscle relief products.

Hot and cold therapy are also options. You can relieve aching muscles by using a heating pad, going in a sauna, or taking a hot bath. Taking a cold shower or placing an ice pack on the area of discomfort can help minimize pain or inflammation.

Individual recovery times will vary. If you stop engaging in any kind of activity for some time, you should anticipate benefits within two weeks. It can take as long as three months for you to reach full recovery.

During this period, you can engage in light physical activity to keep yourself active. Listen to your body during this important time. If you start to exercise once more and start displaying signs of being overworked, take a break from it again.

To avoid exhaustion from too much exercise, have rest days at regular intervals after strenuous or lengthy workouts. Have a rest from focusing on a specific set of muscles for 1 or 2 days if you are performing weightlifting or resistance training. Don’t wait too long between exercise times.

Have a rest period during your workout. Breaks between exercises can be between half a minute and five minutes. If necessary, cut back on the amount and intensity of your training sessions.

Incorporate days of relaxation with activities of lower intensity, like walking, yoga, and swimming, into your routine. This will loosen tense muscles and enable you to remain active while you are healing from a difficult workout. Plus, varying your activities helps develop your whole body.

To manage your stress, it may be helpful to practice calming techniques such as meditation and yoga Nidra.

Consume a nutritious meal plan comprised of carbohydrates, protein, good fats, and nutrient-dense produce to ensure you maintain energy during your workout.


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