If you read out last blog post about some of the warning signs of overtraining, you’re probably wondering how you can help yourself heal from these effects. Recovering from overtraining doesn’t have to be complex and it’s useful to know how to do so, even if you haven’t experienced the effects of overtraining yet.
Keep on reading to discover our main tips when it comes to recovering from overtraining.
The information here is not designed to be a one size fits all guide and should not be used to treat or diagnose your own experiences. As always, you should make sure to consult a GP if you have any concerns.
Rest, rest, rest
Let’s talk about this one first as it’s probably the most obvious. If you’re feeling chronically tired, getting injuries and losing the enjoyment aspect of the workout the last thing you need to do is add even more stress onto the body. After all, exercise is a kind of stress.
Overtraining isn’t always severe so you can choose how much you cut back based on how you feel. You may want to swap out your training for something much lighter than you’re currently doing such as a walk instead of a gym session. If you feel particularly bad or lightening your load didn’t work, take a proper break for a few days to a week. You’ll feel so much better when you return after taking a rest, it’s definitely worth it.
This might feel like a hard thing to do if you’re getting the plateau or loss of fitness symptoms, but adding even more of the thing that’s causing issues just isn’t going to help! Listen to your body so you know when it’s the right time to head back into the gym.
You need to eat well and eat right. We know how important food is for fueling our workouts, and how protein is important for muscle growth and recovery, but overtraining requires a slightly different approach. The short answer is you need to eat more, a decent amount more especially if you were experiencing the lack of appetite overtraining symptom.
Increasing carbohydrate and calorie intake is essential for recovering from overtraining as this will give your body the energy it needs to recover and get back into top condition. Again, this might sound like a hard thing to do if you were trying to lose weight or were doing a cut but restricting at this time will not help you get back into the gym any faster.
Once you feel more like your normal self, take a look at your regular diet. If you were not adequately refuelling yourself in the first place then this may have contributed to your overtraining symptoms. You may need to adjust your diet in order to prevent overtraining from happening again.
You need to drink more. Dehydration can contribute to muscle fatigue and when you work out, you lose more water. Especially in the summer, make sure you’re drinking regularly throughout the day and increase your intake on exercise days. It should also go without saying but really, you should be drinking water. Energy drinks, coffee, and alcohol can all dehydrate you. If water isn’t your favourite drink, why not try some infused water recipes? We’ve got three examples for you here and they really couldn’t be much easier to make.
Poor sleep is a sign of overtraining, so if you’re experiencing this it’s also a good benchmark for how your recovery is going. Lack of sleep also means you’ll feel more tired in general so ensure you are sleeping the right number of hours for your body and you might want to add on an extra hour to help the healing process. Our bodies need sleep to repair from the stressors you’ve experienced so more bodily stress means you’ll need more sleep.
Quality is also just as important as quantity here. Take a look at your sleep hygiene and maybe try a guided meditation to help you drift off.
Listen to your body
Don’t go back to training or adjust your recovery until you actually feel better. This could be a few days but could be as much as two weeks. It’s really tempting to only give yourself a short break, especially when you want to get back to achieving your goals but long term this won’t do you any good and could set you back further if you end up exhausting your body again. Wait until you are fully recovered and then make your changes slowly.
When you start working out make sure to take note of how you feel. You might want to drop some sets or reps in order to build up your strength and test how you will react. Even though it’s a short break, you could use some of the tips we provided about getting back into training after lockdown.
If you want any personalised advice on how to get back into training or adjust your routine, you can always speak to an AF Coach in the club. They’d be happy to help.
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