Too Much of a Good Thing

While you might think overtraining is a problem only for world-class athletes, you too can push your body beyond its limits. Watch for these signs that you’re exceeding your exercise demands… and learn how to combat compulsive tendencies:

Sliding backward. If working out seems harder, not easier, despite consistent effort, you might be pushing too far. Proper physical activity stimulates more energy, not less. If you feel run down, more susceptible to illness, or just perpetually fatigued, your workouts may be too intense.

No pain, no gain? Exercise is hard work, but you shouldn’t suffer from chronic pain. Sore or tight muscles are one thing; they signify the breakdown of fibers that will rebuild stronger. But ongoing spasms, or joint or bone pain, can indicate inadequate recovery or even injury.

Lifestyle changes. If your pulse remains rapid, you have insomnia, or you experience appetite loss, you could be overexerting yourself. Your routine should align with and improve normal functions, not interfere with them.

If you suspect you need to downshift, alternate muscle groups and make sure you can complete at least the first couple reps of any set before burn sets in. Rotate between high- and low-impact aerobic training, and make sure you’re breathing hard and sweating, not gasping for air.

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