People mistakenly think that spending more time in the gym will equal better results.
But did you know that training too hard, or too long can have many negative repercussions:
- An increased risk of injury
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Excessive muscle tissue break down
- A compromised immune system
- An increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to muscle breakdown, chronic disease and a slower metabolic rate
- Damage to the heart and an increased risk for cardiac arrest
If you feel more exhausted than energised after a workout, sleep excessively, or too little, and frequently feel ill and sore, you may be pushing yourself too hard in gym.
Having legs that feel ‘heavy’, a lack of motivation and feeling moody or depressed are also indicative of overtraining.
Make sure you take time to recover
Rather aim to push your body hard enough that your training is challenging, but allow adequate time for recovery and muscle repair. This principle can be applied to both your cardio and strength training sessions.
“Cardio is great for your heart and lungs, and for burning calories, but too much of a good thing is bad”, asserts Bruce Namhing, an experienced ETA-certified personal trainer based in Johannesburg.
“Instead, push up the intensity and shorten the time spent on cardio and try an interval cardio training programme, or a new sport or activity like kickboxing, to build more lean muscle and burn more fat”, he suggests.
Listen to your body
To get the most out of your strength training session, listen to your body, follow a properly periodised programme, and don’t be afraid to push heavier weights.
“My recommendation is to hire a personal trainer who can prepare a proper strength training programme, or to do research on training programmes that meet your specific goals and needs”.
Go hard and heavy
Bruce also emphasises the importance of lifting heavier weights for better results. “Lifting little pink weights and thinking that you are going to get into shape will never allow you to achieve your goals”, he says.
“Lifting heavier weights does not mean that you have to become a powerlifter. It simply means lifting a sufficient amount of weight to stimulate muscle fibres.”
Bruce recommends working within a rep range of 10 to 15 and lifting a weight that will become uncomfortable for at least the last 5 reps.
“If you can lift the weight for more reps than your stipulated goal rep range, you aren’t going heavy enough,” he concludes.
By Julia Lamberti
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.