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Why Overtraining Halts Your Fitness Progress


The ever-so controversial topic of "overtraining" is sensitive among those who frequent the gym. It's difficult to fathom too much exercise as being detrimental to your overall fitness progress, although it is important to allow for sufficient rest time in between workouts. It's also important to realize that recommended rest time is dependent on a variety of factors, such as your fitness goal and preferred method of exercise. Understanding the value of rest time when formulating an effective workout plan is ultimately beneficial, but you shouldn't be deterred from regularly exercising out of fear of stunting your results.

Defining the Notion of Overtraining

Overtraining is simply described as excessive bouts of exercise that cause an overall decline in performance capacity, which in turn stalls your ability to build lean muscle mass. Overtraining is most notably related to weight training, although it can also apply to other modes of exercise, such as sprinting, which typically requires additional rest time. High-intensity aerobic exercise, like sprint interval training, should only be performed two to three times per week. This greatly differs from moderate-intensity anaerobic exercise, like weightlifting, which can be performed five to six days per week, depending on your fitness goals.

Effects of Overtraining

Exercise is just one component of an effective fitness regimen. Diet and rest time are also integral to your overall well-being, which is why you shouldn't place enormous emphasis on any single aspect of improving your physical fitness level. While too much exercise can cause major muscle groups to be become less responsive, too much rest time can lead to muscle atrophy. It's important to establish a balance between exercise and rest when executing your fitness plan. Allow for at least 24 hours in between weight lifting sessions and 48 hours between bouts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Consult a fitness expert or personal trainer if you're unsure about whether your current fitness regimen will result in maximum gain.

Balancing Your Diet

Overtraining can halt your fitness progress for a variety of reasons, but you can avoid the so-called phenomenon of overtraining by balancing your diet. Your diet should include a combination of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Each form of body fuel is important for natural recovery. Protein is most essential for post-workout meals because it's needed in order to help your muscle fibers grow stronger. Carbohydrates are necessary for pre-workout meal consumption because they're the body's preferred method of fuel during moderate- to high-intensity exercise. The body similarly uses fat as its source of fuel during periods of rest. Failing to eat a balanced diet can result in your body using muscle fibers as fuel, which results in atrophy.

Recommendations for Recovery

A healthy diet has the potential to increase the efficiency of average recovery time for most individuals, which ideally enables frequent gym-goers to exercise more often without overtraining. It's also equally important to remain hydrated throughout each day. Water helps supply fatigued muscles with the nutrients they need to recover more efficiently. Drink 6 - 10 eight-ounce glasses of water per day. In addition, sleep for at least eight hours per night to enhance recovery time. Following these simple steps with help you exercise often without experiencing the muscle-degenerative effects of overtraining.


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John Shea is a team sports fanatic and fitness aficionado. His work has been published across a wide platform of online audiences in the realm of health and fitness. His passion for fitness is exemplified in his writing, as he aims to help readers improve their overall well-being.

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