Yes, you can exercise too much – but how do you know?
Exercise and training are awesome gifts of health for your body, but too much can end up doing more harm than good. There’s an optimal amount of exercise you should undertake for strength and fitness. Anything beyond that will have a negative impact.
So, exactly how much and how often should you exercise? While there’s not a precise answer, here are ways you can make that individual determination.
What’s your reason?
Your objective is the first step in determining how often you should work out. Is it weight loss? Your frequency and workout routine will differ for this, compared to what you would do if your goal were muscle gain.
Your goal is to exercise to burn more calories than you take in to achieve weight loss. How much exercise you need would determine your frequency and workout intensity. This will be more closely related to your cardiovascular exercise regimen.
Your routine will change dramatically if the goal is strength training, which often has a focus on compound exercises that work for multiple muscle groups. Muscle gain requires finding the right balance of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Excessive exercise might minimize your muscle gains.
Yes, that’s enough to make your brain explode. It might be easier to focus on figuring out how much is too much than how much is enough.
How much is too much?
There are general recommendations on the weekly frequency of workouts for specific objectives. SELF magazine, for example, recommends that 2–3 times weekly is optimal for strength training and cardio. The website stresses that the rest days in between are crucial because they allow your body to recover and rebuild.
If you’re new to exercise, it’s a given that you won’t be able to sustain a routine that a well-trained athlete can handle. Above and beyond your objective for working out, you’ll have to base your peak frequency on your level of experience.
Even if you’ve been working out for years, there’s still a list of symptoms that can help you determine if you’re pushing it. Mobile app designer 8fit says there are eight symptoms (does that surprise you?) that tell you that you might be overtraining.
- Persistent muscle soreness
- Weakened immune system
- Constant fatigue
- Mood swings and irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased frequency of injuries
- Elevated resting heart rate
If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, it may be a sign that you’re pushing too hard and it’s time to cut back. Yes, you should feel the muscular challenge of a workout, but it shouldn’t cause you so much physical pain that you can’t ultimately feel an accomplishment. If that’s the case, you should scale back.
How to tell if you’re pushing it too far
Exercise app-maker Runtastic says there are two additional pillars for training besides exercise itself. Recovery and fuel, in the form of sleep and nutrition, are crucial in helping you reach your goal. Again, it might be weight loss – just as it might be increasing muscle mass. Their takeaway is that skipping a rest day is just as detrimental as overworking your body.
Your body will tell you if it’s overworked. One of the top indicators is a sense of excessive fatigue. You’ll feel the burn, and your muscles will be slow to respond after an intense workout. Fatigue that lasts past the recovery point is an indication you’re overworking your muscles. Your body is tapping into core energy stores beyond the quick carb reservoir.
Often, your body will tell you that you’ve overdone it by rewarding you with a bad night’s sleep. It might seem counterintuitive, but physical stress causes the overproduction of stress hormones, which will interfere with recuperative sleep. Even after a full night’s sleep, you’ll awaken feeling fatigued.
We often attribute our appetite with exercise. However, over-exercising can actually cause a loss of appetite. It causes a hormone imbalance that can actually make us less hungry. Appetite suppression is often a symptom of overexertion.
Another indication that you’re pushing it too far is the onset of depression. We often hear that exercise releases endorphin and makes us feel better. An overly ambitious workout can cause physical and psychological damage. Remember that overexertion can impact our ability to rest and recover. Over time, a lack of quality sleep will affect our hormone balance. Studies show that a major cause of depression is linked to hormones.
Knocking out the aches and pains
Now you know that there’s no official indicator of how much is too much when it comes to working out. But there is a generally agreed-upon way to deal with the muscle and joint pain associated with workouts. Learn more about how CopperGel can help you move past the pain that keeps you from sticking to your workout regime.