Overreaching or Overtraining?

OvertrainingJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Physical activity or exercising is one of the cornerstones of good health. However, as with many things in life, too much of a good thing can actually be harmful. More common in professional and competitive athletes than those who regularly exercise three or more times per week, excessive training without adequate rest can result in a maladaptive response termed Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) with symptoms of persistent fatigue, mood state changes and disturbances in the immune, neurologic and endocrine systems. It’s well known that improvements in cardiac health, athletic performance, endurance, and muscle strength require a certain degree of exertion or overreaching during exercise. Overtraining, however, can impede one’s progress, or worse, result in an injury, necessitating cessation of the activity altogether until proper and complete healing takes place.

You may not be training for the Olympics, but you may be overdoing it at the gym.

While OTS is a recognized illness with similarities to chronic fatigue syndrome and major depression, OTS is considered its own entity, indiscriminately striking the most hardworking competitive athletes. Every day exercisers, weekend warriors, or those who train for 10Ks or half-marathons, as well as cyclists, swimmers, cross country skiers and bodybuilders who overtrain for optimal performance, can find themselves in a state of fatigue that only weeks or months of rest can reverse. Overtraining is best avoided by undertraining, in itself self-defeating for those who are competing with themselves or others.

Signs that you may be overtraining:

  • Higher resting heart rate
  • Reduced ability to perform high intensity exercise
  • Fatigue lasting longer than 72 hours after a workout, often accompanied by insomnia
  • An unpleasant feeling of heaviness in the legs
  • Persistent joint or muscle pain or weakness, lasting longer than three days.
  • Loss of appetite, irritability or depressed mood
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • Decreased incentive, or a compulsive need to exercise
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Symptoms of less than optimal immune function, such as cuts or scrapes that are slow to heal or more frequent ailments such as colds or sore throats

Intense, prolonged training can result in significant trauma to the muscles. However, the proper amount of trauma to muscle tissue, along with adequate rest and recovery time, results in improved muscle growth and strength. While exercise breaks down muscle tissues causing microscopic tears, rest days allow muscles, nerves, bones and connective tissues time to rebuild. Individuals whose lifestyles include everyday exercise activity can maintain their schedule with less intense exercise on rest days, or by exercising different muscle groups to allow recovery of previously hard-worked muscle groups.

Regular exercise, along with designated periods of rest, lowers stress levels, enhances mood, boosts energy levels, improves cardiovascular health, and aids weight maintenance. The general advice to “eat less and exercise more” is often considered an inefficient approach to health management and weight control and may actually lead to injury or fatigue. Shorter bouts of higher-intensity exercise, combined with weight bearing exercise several times a week, can be tailored or modified to meet individual needs and goals. For healthy balance, rotate exercise intensity, get sufficient sleep and proper hydration, and be sure to schedule some time each week for the body to heal and rejuvenate.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplement to support exercise, recovery and overall heath:

Klean AntioxidantKlean Antioxidant™ by Klean Athlete®: This antioxidant blend includes astaxanthin, maqui fruit and vitamin C, along with the patented combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid to help guard against free radical cellular damage associated with intense physical training. NSF Certified for Sport®.


Recovery SupportRecovery Support by Theramedix: This delayed release proprietary enzyme blend is formulated to promote soft tissue maintenance and provide support for muscle recovery after exercise or over exertion. Filler, preservative and artificial ingredient free.


Klean ElectrolytesKlean Electrolytes™ by Klean Athlete®: This product helps to replenish minerals that may be depleted during intense exercise or physical stress in support of proper muscle function and the maintenance of good health. NSF Certified for Sport®.


Athletic NutrientsAthletic Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations®: Specifically designed to support physical training and performance, this complete, hypoallergenic, nutrient rich formula targets endurance, promotes energy, and lessens muscle fatigue. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.


Klean RecoveryKlean Recovery™ by Klean Athlete®: This powdered supplement is formulated specifically for athletic endurance and recovery. Rich in amino acids crucial to muscle building and nitrogen balance, Klean Recovery™ provides a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein in support of optimal glycogen and protein synthesis. NSF Certified for Sport®.

Overtraining Syndrome. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/Fulltext/2015/05000/Overtraining_Syndrome.7.aspx
Overtraining Syndrome. A Practical Guide. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435910/
Crash and Burnout. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/sports/playmagazine/02play-physed.html
Overtraining effects on immunity and performance in athletes. https://www.nature.com/articles/icb200070
Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome in Athletes. https://www.verywellfit.com/overtraining-syndrome-and-athletes-3119386
9 Reasons to Skip Your Workout…Sometimes. https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/9-reasons-skip-your-workout-sometimes
How does exercise make your muscles stronger? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-does-exercise-make-yo/