We’ve heard it before, right? The key to fat loss is simple: “eat less and exercise more”. While that’s not not true, it can be a slippery slope. Eating too little and exercising too much can actually have the opposite effect, putting your body’s stress response into overdrive making you less efficient at gaining muscle, getting stronger, and even losing fat.
We’ve talked about the effects of under-eating, but if you missed that, check out this post. Now, let’s talk about overexercising and under-recovering.
There’s no magic formula as to how many days you should train and how many days you should rest. That is super individual and depends on lots of factors like how many hours of sleep you get a night, how your eating habits are, how well-managed your life/emotional stresses are, how intense your training is — essentially what you’re doing the other 23 hours of the day when you’re not in the gym.
Here are 10 common signs of overtraining/under-recovering:
🏋🏻♂️ Lack of appetite / insatiable hunger
🏋🏻♂️ Irregular period / lack of sex drive
🏋🏻♂️ Frequently getting sick / poor immunity
🏋🏻♂️ Inability to push into second gear in workouts
🏋🏻♂️ Stalled progress in the gym
🏋🏻♂️ Getting injured frequently or inability for injuries to heal
🏋🏻♂️ Inability to drop body fat or even tendency to gain body fat
🏋🏻♂️ Poor sleep quality (can’t fall asleep or stay asleep)
🏋🏻♂️ Excessive soreness
🏋🏻♂️ Intense cravings, especially for sugary or carbohydrate-heavy foods
If this sounds all too familiar, then it may be time to check in with yourself and figure out if your current training regimen is working for your goals or against them. This can be hard for most people because they understand exercise as a “stress-relief” and while that’s great, too much of a good thing can actually backfire. I mean, chocolate induces positive effects on my mood, but if I start pounding a couple of king-sized Hershey’s Bars every day, things are going to get dicey.
If some of the above applies to you, consider:
✌🏻Taking a couple of rest days and noting if there are any improvements to the above. If so, start figuring how how many rest days a week you should be taking to optimize your recovery. Two a week is usually a good place to start. Some people need less, others more.
✌🏻Remember, if you’re not a competitive athlete, there’s very little reason to be training more than once a day.
✌🏻Prioritize your sleep. If you’re not clocking in a solid 7 hours of sleep, you haven’t earned the right to train.
✌🏻Do not eat less on rest days! That is your opportunity to recover, and the body needs food for recovery. Duh.
✌🏻Don’t fake rest days. You can’t count a 20 minute rowing session or an intense power yoga class as rest. Get outside, take a walk, paddle board — keep it restorative.
✌🏻Don’t treat every day like competition day. There’s no need to go balls-to-the-wall in every workout. Sometimes the focus is just to move and feel good.
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