Workout burnout can result from overtraining.

Do you know how to tell if you have this problem, let alone how to fix it?

If you’re an eager beaver with your workout regimen and want results yesterday, you may be at risk for overtraining.

Overtraining can also result from lack of results; you may figure that you need to work out more frequently and/or for longer sessions: the “more is better” approach.

However, the more you train, the less recovery time you have, and it’s during recovery that growth takes place—growth of the lean, shapely muscle that you want.

And with this growth comes fat-burning, since muscle is very metabolically active.

Think of training this way: A building crumbles to the ground from an earthquake. A repair crew with cranes and other equipment comes in to rebuild the damage.

However, before this rebuilding is complete, another earthquake hits, bringing down the partially repaired structure.

A repair crew comes in…starts rebuilding…but another quake hits before the job is finished.

This is what happens to muscle fibers when you don’t get adequate rest, when you overtrain. Strength and muscle gains don’t happen in the gym; they happen at rest.

What happens to your body if you overtrain?

Besides a stagnation in achieving the results you want, other consequence will occur:

• Weakened immune function

• Persistent muscle soreness

• Rapid resting heart rate

• Insomnia

• Appetite suppression

• Mental burnout

• Increased susceptibility to injury or reinjury

Especially beware of the last bullet point. Overtraining leads to excess cortisol production.


Cortisol is a stress hormone that, in excess amounts, leads to protein loss. With a loss of protein, muscles, tendons and ligaments are more vulnerable to injury.

Overtraining ups your chances of getting colds and the flu, since the immune system relies upon proteins.

Prevention of Overtraining

To prevent training too much and the deleterious consequences, you must take close stock of your regimen.

Take a hard look at for how long you conduct any very intense sessions; how frequently you do them; and how frequently you pound on a particular muscle group.

• Do not do cardio and weight training on the same day. This is just too much for the body to handle.

• Do not do “high intensity interval training” more than three times a week.

• Do not strength train the same muscle group two days in a row.

• Ideally, allow three days to pass before training the same muscle group with weights a second time in one week. So if you perform squats on Wednesday, the ideal day to repeat this is on Saturday.

• High volume, concentrated workouts (short rest periods, strenuous sets) should not exceed one hour.

• If you’re beginning to feel burned out from a particular type of exercise, replace it with another.

• If you feel pain in a joint, stop the offending activity until the pain disappears. Overtraining often causes tendon damage, and it can be insidious.

• A meal of quality protein and complex carbohydrates should be consumed within one hour of finishing a workout.

• For workouts of one hour or longer, at the 45 minute mark, consume carbohydrates such as an apple, banana or all-natural juice.

• Never skip breakfast.

• Get at least seven hours of sleep a night, but there’s no reason to exceed nine.

Nutrition to Combat Overtraining

Another factor is nutrition. Do you wait a few hours after workouts before eating? Big mistake.

Do you skip breakfast just because you’re not hungry, even though the day before you hammered your body? Big mistake.

Healthy sources of carbohydrates are important. For optimal recovery, it’s best to have a diet of about 70 percent carbohydrate., mrblmoreno

Taking carbs mid-way through a long workout will help prevent muscle breakdown.

Eating carbs and protein within an hour (some schools of thought say it should be immediately after) of a workout will get most-efficiently utilized.

What about prior to a workout? Eat carbs and protein one to two hours pre-training session.

This waiting period is important so that your body isn’t busy digesting while you’re exercising.

And you’ve certainly heard this one before: Drink a lot of water. For the best recovery environment, the body needs to be well-hydrated at all times.

Overtraining can definitely be prevented as long as you periodically re-evaluate your exercise and nutrition regimen, and address suspicious symptoms early in the game rather than waiting until they’ve become incapacitating.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.