Think you may have overtrained a little? Don’t ignore the signs during your workouts.

Overtraining is a very real concern and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“Overtraining happens when a person has repeatedly exercised at an intensity, quantity and duration that is more than their body can recover from,” says Yujin Lim, exercise physiologist from Optimal Health Exercise Physiology.

“It can lead to many undesirable symptoms such as ‘burnout’ and prolonged fatigue, muscle and joint injuries, poor sleep quality, loss of motivation, irritability, altered immune and hormonal function, reduced appetite, and decreased bone density.”

At its worst, overtraining can manifest in conditions like amenorrhea – where your normal menstrual cycle ceases as a result of weight loss or hormonal disturbances – or rhabdomyolosis.

Rhabdomyolosis occurs when muscle damage is severe and, as a result, a protein called myoglobin is released into the bloodstream.

This protein has to then be ‘filtered out’, a process that can be damaging to kidneys (among other things) and usually results in alarmingly dark-coloured urine (other not-so-telling symptoms include muscle fatigue and weakness). Risk factors for rhabdo, according to a study in Sports Injuries journal, include temperature extremes, humidity, dehydration, fatigue and asthma. Lim advises, “Well-planned progression and program design is vital to ensuring that you progress as efficiently as possible while mitigating the dangers of overtraining.

“For example, research shows that high-intensity interval training done three times per week may produce the best results while limiting injury.”

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