Symptoms of overtraining

Symptoms of overtraining

I was not even aware that overtraining even exist nor have I ever thought it would happen to me.I thought that I need to practice more in order to be better.But it turned out that it is not like that.I trained every day, sometimes twice a day,but when I trained more and more I felt weaker and weaker.I remember that I thinked in my head how could this be possible I train more and I feel worse? A great influence on me has the fact that I once traveled three times a week to another town that is away from me, about 100 kilometers to train.Often times after training I had so strong cravings for sweet and junk food that is impossible to describe, and also when I was returning home from training I often slept in the bus,and when I was finnaly home after 2 hours in bus I could sleep till the early in the morning.So i told myself I must find solution because obviously I was doing something wrong.I also should note that I have lost desire for things that I love to do.And not to mention that I felt a bit depressed too.I researched on the internet and saw that many people have similiar symptoms like me and that those are in fact symptoms of overtraining.I also saw that there are studies that indicate that training can cause addiction 1 which was my case.I simply put in my mind that I must practice every day.

Because of that I made a list of the most common symptoms for all those people who train alot in order to know when you should slow down the pace of training or take a few days break.

Sore muscles

It is normal to feel pain after each workout but if pain persists after 72 hours,that is a sure sign that you need rest.This is literally a sign that your muscles are not recovering properly.The effect on this also have timing and lenght of your training, because training actually causes stress for your body and it increses the levels of cortisol and other catabolic hormons that prevent protein synthesis.2 which means that if your training lasts two hours, and we all know that before competition you can easily train two hours we have a better chance to be our stage in catabolism,where actually we are increasing chances of muscle wasting.Taking into consideration these two factors we come to conclusion that if our training is more then 2 hours even using supplements after training will not help because we have reduced protein synthesis.What is the solution? The solution is not to train more then 1 : 30 hours,speaking from my experience.Also from the opinion of Rob Robergs, Ph.D. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. cortisol will not override the anabolic hormones
such as testosterone and growth hormone, if our training takes less than 45 minutes, or you can override these hormones if we train more than 45 minutes.3 It is known that testosterone increases muscle mass and protein synthesis 4 which leads to the conclusion that the muscles recover faster and better if you provide them with their construction of matter,which in this case are amino acids.This applies to any form of exercise, not only for BJJ.

Conclusion: your training of BJJ should take no more than one hour and thirty minutes while your workout with weights or any other activity not more then 45 minutes.You should also sleep enough for recovery.5

You can’t sleep

You did a strenuous workout and you think that when you get back home you will fall asleep like a baby.But when you get home you actually can’t fall asleep.Why is this happening? In fact, as I said earlier that exercise actually stressful for the body, which means that exercise activates our sympathetic nervous system in which level of some hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol ) is increased.This hormones increase heart rate and blood pressure 6,7,8,9  and prevent the functioning of the immune system.11 However, the lack of recovery can result in elevated levels of these hormones, which can cause high blood pressure and high resting heart rate.This can stop production of hormones and proteins in the brain,which are also called neurotransmitters that help you have a better sleep.


This is what to me is the worst thing that can happen because of overtraining.The training should have completly oposite effect but actually ovetraining cause depression.A study published in “Psychosomatic Medicine” also prove this.This study shows that people who exercised 4 months have reduced depression, however constantly training after 10 months leads to the emergence of depression.12 Although direct link wasn’t found between depression and overtraining,theory from books Jack H. Wilmore, Physiology of Sport and Exercise is that all of this is connected with the change of structure in the brain,neurotransmitters and immune system.Luckily symptoms of depression are very easy to prevent.From theory from these books we just need to reduce the intensity and time, and we need more rest between sets.

You get sick quite often

As I explained in the previous text increased level of cortisol leads to a weak immune system.13,14,15 We also know that cortisol is catabolic hormone.All this leads to conclusion that these two factors can certainly influence to get sick faster.

Higher chances of injuries

This happens because the body don’t have enough time for recovery which leads to situation when we are training but our body is not in best condition to do that.So that means if we constantly train in that conditions we have higher chances for injury.The best solution for this is to set a limit how much time we train, for example 10 weeks and then take a week of rest.

Lack of motivation

If you are a person who who lives and breathes for training (no difference whether in the gym or on mats) suddenly you don’t have any more motivation.When you are overtrained you don’t have same motivation for training.Therefore, if you feel you slowly lose motivation for training feel free to take few days rest.Also,sleep enough,watch on your diet and if you can afford,take supplements.

You can’t finish the training which is usually routine for you

I am not talking here about your goals to lift 300 pounds one day or  to train three hours with Caio Terra but I mean on those usual weight which you are usully lif in the gym without problems or the usual time that you spend on mats training BJJ.One of the symptoms of the overtraining is that you become slower and weaker
although you exercise regularly,but every exaggeration is not good. (the same concept is that we need to eat every healthy food in moderation ).If you can’t lift more weight then you usually could is not failure,but oposite it is one of the steps you have to go through to get to the progress but if you can’t lift the weight you could lift in the past training that means you are in phase of overtraining.The same goes for BJJ training,if you can’t roll to the end of the training session without problems,you are overtrained.

You can’t lose weight even if you train non stop and you feel tired all the time

Like I mention earlier in the article due to decrease of level of testosterone and growth hormone or increased level of cortisol you can’t lose weight that easy and also you have feeling of tiredness all the time.

You have a strong desire for sweets and junk food

When we train more our body is in situation where it search for “quick” energy source in order to accommodate to a such stressful situation.This will lead to strong desire of sweets.But if you can’t resist to this situation then it will become your bad healthy habit.This is happening because of higer level of cortisol is preventing secretion of hormone insulin which can result in insulin sensitivity.Brown DF, Brown DD (2003). USMLE Step 1 Secrets: Questions You Will Be Asked on USMLE Step first Philadelphia: Hanley & Belfus. p. 63. ISBN 1-56053-570-9 Unusually for cortisol is that it increases the synthesis of glycogen in the liver, although it is know how this happens.

When you should look out for overtraining

Before a competition
When you want to thrive in a very short time
When you have a job with increased physical activity

An alternative way of recognizing overtraining

Overtraining can also recognize if you follow your heart rate for a longer period.Follow your heart rate when you have aerobic exercise and write down.If you heart rate is starting to increase when you rest then you are more likely to be in phase of overtraining.Also you can use a method developed by Heikki Rusko while working with skiers.Lie down and relax for 10 minutes every day at the same time,but it is best in the morning.After those 10 minutes, measure your heart heart in minute.Stand up after 15 seconds and measure the heart rate.After 90 seconds measure one more time heart rate.If you are well rested then the heart rate will be approximately the same, while the Rusko discovered thought there was an increase in people who are in a state of overtraining.This measurements can indicate whether you are generally recovered after your last training which can help you in decision if you should take a break or continue training without having to worry.16,17,18


Overtraining is an imbalance between training and recovery.

How to prevent overtraining

Believe me when you come into a period of overtraining you may need even two weeks to recover from overtraining.


Sleeping is one of the things that are most important for proper rest and to reduce the risk of overtraining.It is best to provide the body with at least 8 hours of sleeping.


Your diet plays a very important role in your recovery.You should treat your body like car for example.It is same like if we put 80% water in the car and 20% gas,it will function for some time but at the end the water will not help much.Because of that you should consume nutritional dense food and eat less junk food and food that don’t have good nutritional value.Great emphasis should also be placed on meals before and after training.


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