Overtraining vs Under-Recovery. Are You Guilty?


Often we’re told that overtraining leads to reduced performance on and off the field, delayed progress, and even injury.

What is Overtraining?

Overtraining is when the overall volume of training is greater than the ability to recover. This usually occurs when an athlete goes above and beyond what a coach recommends, thinking that “more is better” and “no pain, no gain.” Or when an athlete is juggling multiple teams or competitions with different coaches who have varying schedules and demands. While all coaches should be so blessed to have athletes willing to go the extra mile, training too hard, too often, negatively affects performance.

This is overtraining.

But is it?

The term “overtraining” is often misused. Focusing on training is the wrong way to approach the issue. A common message from strength and conditioning coaches is that, it’s not just the time spent in the gym that leads to performance improvements, but the time spent outside the gym, recovering. As such, the need for a mindset shift: it’s not that athletes are “overtrained”, it’s that most athletes are under-recovered.

Is it Overtraining or Under-Recovery?

Sleep. Nutrition. Hydration.

Do you spend as much time focusing on recovery as you do hours in the gym? How many athletes would benefit from eight hours of sleep each night, three square meals, and remembering to drink water throughout the day? An athlete who “overtrains” simply hasn’t put enough focus into recovery. It’s easiest to think about the issue like this: there are 24 hours in the day. Let’s say two of those are spent training. Then I ask, what happened to the other 22? Where’s the emphasis?

If you spend those remaining 22 hours of the day focused as intensely on your recovery as you do on performance, odds are you won’t be “overtrained”.

Watch for the following symptoms of overtraining or lack of recovery:

In summary, overtraining and poor recovery are about managing exercise workloads and following regeneration strategies to help combat those major causes of fatigue. Always include nutritional intake and timing, quality sleep (as sleep disturbance after a game/race is common and can negatively impact recovery), and the utilisation of various recovery modalities in your strategies.

If things ever get too much and you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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