I heard my friends at the gym talk about “over training”. Can you please explain what exactly it is, and how it can be prevented if it is so bad for progress?

Pema, 20


Dear Pema,

Over training is training to a point where either your muscle (body) or nervous system (mind) is unable to recover optimally. This is can happen in many ways.

The most common and the easiest way to over train is by having poor nutrition or eating too little calories.

When you are not consuming enough nutrient or calories, no recovery or repair from your workouts can happen. Most commonly it is due to lack of protein in the body.

Training too frequently or too long is the second most common cause that leads to over training. This can be easily corrected by reducing the frequency and volume till you find how much is the optimal frequency and volume for you.

Insufficient sleep can also lead to over training. We recover physically and mentally in a state of consistent deep sleep.

I highly recommend eight hours of sleep everyday for optimal physical and mental progression. The worst form of over training is the mental exhaustion and trauma that is caused by training over a period of time.

Training too long and too frequently taking no time away from hard training can cause serious mental and physical stress. This can lead to lack of enthusiasm and joy in training. In worst scenario, one can end up having a very negative association with weight training and exercise.

Tip of the week:

“Only after perfecting nutrition and rest should you attempt to intensify your training”

Why is over training detrimental to progress?

When our mind and body cannot optimally recover from workout, it gradually becomes more and more vulnerable to injury. Training becomes a waste of effort, time and money. Also, it becomes a threat to your good health.

Symptoms of over training:

Lack of enthusiasm to train.

Continual sore muscle.

Low immunity. You get frequently sick.

Stalling of progress on every level, size, strength and conditioning.

In the worst scenario constant negativity and eventually depression.

How can you prevent over training?

Learn to read the symptoms of over training early on and tackle it head on.

Common solutions to overcome over training

Take some break from all strenuous physical activity.

Reduce frequency and length of workout sessions until you find the right balance for you.

Consume right nutrients daily to support your level of current physical activity and current lifestyle.

Seek guidance of an experienced trainer and nutritionist to build a programme that is optimal for you. Seek help to find your perfect programme.

Above all, we are all individuals, and what is over training to one may be warm up to another. So stop comparing or copying someone else’s routine. Draw inspiration and motivation from others and find what works best for you.

Tshering Dorji (three times Mr Bhutan winner), is a certified fitness trainer and specialist in performance nutrition


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