If you are reading this article, you are more than likely someone who loves to workout and live a fitness orientated lifestyle…

There are so many benefits to exercise and fitness and we all know most of them. But how many of us know that we can actually over exercise or, as we bodybuilders call it, over train?

So let’s take a look at some harmful effects of over working out and the tell tale signs that we have entered into the “harmful zone”.


One of the first signs of over exercising is a decrease in your performance.

If you are training harder and longer yet you seem to be standing still or even going backwards in your progress, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your routine. Continuing to push can lead to more serious issues. Without knowing, you can develop microscopic tears in your muscle fibers with increased risk for injuries if your training is excessive.

These injuries may fail to heal if you continue over exercising or may cause a delayed recovery time. Additionally if you have persistent muscle soreness that lasts for hours or days after your training session you are not getting enough rest.

Mental or physical fatigue and a disinterest in exercise are apparent signs of overtraining.

These tie into other harmful effects that may come with this. You may experience moods swings common with an over-stressed body. Anxiety, depression, anger and irritability can be part of the over exercising cycle that may also affect your hormones. 

If you’re losing weight but increase body fat, you could be in the later stages of the overtraining syndrome. The body responds to prolonged stress by elevating levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone. 

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Over time, adipose (fat) tissue will become stored and steroid-like hormones that normally help increase muscle will be blocked. Your body can enter a catabolic state in which the tissues are actually breaking down and not building up as they should be from training. So you are clear, the same stress hormones you release when you’re emotionally stressed are also released when you’re physically overloaded.

Over exercising can weaken your immune system which can make you susceptible to colds, flu, allergies and infections. Weakening your immune system brings us back to causing fatigue and prolonging the healing process of an injury. It’s evident that all the harmful effects of over exercising are well connected and tie into one another. Once you cross the line of “too much” it is not a simple process.

Lastly, over exercising can also wreak havoc on your heart and cause an elevated resting heart rate. Training too much or too intensely for your body puts more stress on your heart so it has to work harder and beat faster. For example, if you notice your resting heart rate has gone from 60 to 75 beats per minute this may signify that you’re over exercising.

This may be the most serious risk you have in working out excessively as you can damage your heart and cause long term harm.

As someone who has pushed himself into the overtraining category a few times over my over 40 years in the gym, take it from me…don’t join the club!

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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