training too much

Are You Training Too Much

Tired! Sore!  But, can’t wait to hit the gym again? Know the effects of overtraining and how it hampers your muscle growth.  Overtraining is a new addiction to hit the town and it is legal. A-lister celebrities, like Madonna with punishing workout schedules, have fallen victim to the new disorder and many gym enthusiasts, particularly weight trainers are echoing the rule of more is merrier. The standard guideline on gym time is about five hours a week, but if your training hours run in double digits and have become an obsession, you need to worry because your body is not getting the time to recover from the strains of training. 


The most visible effect of overtraining is stunted muscle growth. For muscle growth to occur, your muscles should receive stress greater than earlier. This is achieved by gradually moving to bigger weights. When you train with weights heavier than your body has adapted to, you push your muscles to the threshold of fatigue, while getting a pump. Once the workout is over, the most important part of the muscle growth sets in, as your torn muscle tissues begin to fuse and grow stronger anticipating an increased workout onslaught, with the help of right nutrients and rest. Adequate rest provides ample fuel to your muscles so that they can regenerate and grow.


Overtraining is a common occurrence in weight training. It refers to compulsive training without allowing your body the time to rest and recover.  Typically, your body requires 48 hours of rest before you work out the same body part. However, people suffering from overtraining syndrome train excessively to the point of hampering their muscle growth leading to soreness of muscles and stunted growth.


However hard you train, muscles are not built in the gym, explains the science of muscle growth.  After you have worked out, the muscle fibers undergo trauma and need adequate nutrition and rest to grow stronger and thicker. The repaired muscle tissue fibers increase in thickness and number. This is called muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth and will take place only when the protein synthesis in the muscle tissues remain greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown. This adaptation in your body happens when you rest, not when you lift.


When you train longer than required, your body releases more of cortisol, a stress hormone that degrades amino acids stored in the muscle tissues into glucose to fuel the lengthy training sessions. Continuing to remain in this catabolic stage in the long run without adequate rest and nutrition compromises your immunity. Frequent seasonal infection, a clear cut manifestation of lowered immunity is an important sign of overtraining


Muscle soreness is more prevalent in fitness beginners performing resistance exercises, or who are training after a layoff.  It is normal to have muscle soreness for a day or two after a workout, but if you are sore even after the 72-hour mark, you need rest because your muscles are not recovering any more.


A high-intensity workout floods your body with stress hormones, like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol.  These hormones increase heart rate, blood pressure and affect muscle function. Spacing out your two workouts allows these hormones to return to the normal level, but continued overtraining is going to make you jittery and nervous. The four-hour sleep window between 10pm to 2am everyday allows you to recover faster from the effects of the workout.


Exercise is the best antidote to depression and it has been clinically proven. A study in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000 found that moderate aerobic exercise is as effective as anti-depressants, but people who train obsessively begin to view their training session as a space filler, or a challenge. They may also suffer from negative body image that gets expressed in increased crankiness, aggression and frequent mood blues. While it is okay to remain sad once in a while, but if your blues last for a week or longer, you need help.




  1. Start with a nutrient rich meal plan including enough carbohydrates and proteins Carbohydrates are a good source of fuel and help your muscles grow. In the absence of carbs, your body has to degrade proteins for energy. 
  2. Many people who over train get stuck in the growth plateau and push themselves to fiercer training sessions hoping for the results to show. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Start by taking a break of two days from the gym.
  3.  Go for deep tissue massage to loosen tight muscles and flush toxins and buildup of lactic acid. Even a session of self-massage will work to soothe tired muscles.
  4.  Introduce variety in your workout. Same routine day in and day out will become monotonous in a while. Your body will also get used to your workout. Change your workout and keep it engaging.
  5. Limit your gym time to one hour at the maximum. After an hour of workout, your testosterone levels dip and stress hormone, cortisol begins to rise. Testosterone is your muscle-building friend and cortisol degrades your muscle. Take a pick? If you think one hour is too less, it’s not, if in the gym your focus is on exercise. Social bonding can happen outside.

Be sensible and listen to your body if you stop to grow and become irritable. Take a break from your workouts, because your body deserves rest.