Over-training syndrome: symptoms, underlying causes, and methods of treatment

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Over-training syndrome: symptoms, underlying causes, and methods of treatment

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So the day came when you decided to change your life and even bought a subscription to a fitness club and began to train hard ... Well, congratulations, half the work has been done. But sometimes such efforts are not enough to lose weight or gain muscle mass. Often in a month or two after the start of classes, the weight, and dynamics of muscle mass increase. Faced with a similar effect, many give up and experience a state close to despair, often followed by a desire to drop everything. This is overtraining syndrome. Passion.ru decided to find out how to break out of this vicious circle and train as efficiently as possible.

Overtraining is a physical and emotional state, to which both a beginner and an experienced athlete can involuntarily bring themselves. Its essence lies in the inability of the body to recover from physical exertion, as a result of which the indicators fall, progress is replaced by regression, and the desire to play sports or fitness tends to zero.


What are the main signs of over-training?

Valentina Kovaleva
Head coach of The Base Fitness, an expert of the brand Reebok.

The main signs of overtraining are:

⟹  Stop training progress, your working weight decreases, the pace of running decreases.

⟹  Muscles do not grow - the body has run out of resources.

⟹  Reduced stamina

⟹  High pulse at rest.

⟹  Lack of energy at the beginning of the workout and throughout the day.

⟹  Bad sleep, loss of appetite, irritability, conflict.

⟹  Pain in the muscles before the next workout, the body aches stronger than usual after training. There are painful joints.

⟹  Reduced immunity, frequent colds.

⟹  Lack of motivation and desire to train, for training you go through strength.

⟹  Violation of the menstrual cycle.

What is the cause of over-training syndrome?

It lies on the surface: you train too hard and hard. The body does not have time to recover until the next load, and the muscles are deficient in nutrients and amino acids. Due to an excess of lactic acid in them, the acidity increases and the contractility of proteins decreases. This leads to slower performance and fatigue: the muscles swell but are no longer able to withstand the former load. There is an imbalance between anabolic (recovery) and catabolic (destructive) processes. After all, our muscles after stress are destroyed, and then during rest, their cellular structure is restored, “built” anew - this is how they grow and develop. If you do not give your muscles a break, at some point the recovery process stops, microtraumas do not heal - overtraining syndrome appears.

Important! Do not confuse your condition with chronic overtraining! In this case, the recovery will take from 30 days to several months, and only a doctor can diagnose!



The immune system suffers from excessive stress: the body tries to get out of stress. At the same time, there is an impact on the central nervous system: the speed of the nerve impulses drops. This impairs coordination, decreases stamina and concentration.

What actions can worsen over-training syndrome even more?

Natalya Grigorieva
Dietitian, anti-age expert, general director of the Aesthetic Medicine Clinic "Premium Estetiks."
  • You further reduce the calorie intake in the hope that the weight suddenly begins to decline again.

  • You change the exercises, their order, increase the weight, the number of repetitions. But it is simply useless because the muscles are not able to cope with the load, they need rest.

  • You take energy for energy. They usually contain caffeine, guarana extract, which are fatal to the cardiovascular system and adrenal glands.

  • You eat more protein. It will not accelerate the growth of muscle mass, rather it will lead to acidification of the internal environment and failure of metabolic processes. Plus, an excess of protein - an excessive load on the kidneys.

What to do?

The first thing that needs to be done is to refuse training for a week. Arrange a vacation from sports and diet, go for a massage or in the spa to relax. Follow the sleep and rest regime, walk more in the open air and eat high-quality and “healthy” foods rich in vitamins and minerals. As soon as strength and vigour return to you, rearrange your training process.

To get started, go for a routine checkup with a doctor and take all the tests that will help you know the level of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, microelements, determine the concentration of hormones (testosterone, somatotropic hormone, cortisol). Taking into account all the above indicators, you can fill the deficit of certain substances, make an individual diet, exercise plan, adjust the mode of the day in accordance with the goals.


How to adjust your diet and workout schedule if you want to lose weight

  • The first thing you need to remember - calorie daily diet. It is always calculated based on your physical activity. And if you are an active athlete, you can not just afford more calories, but simply have to do it in order not to go the distance.


On average, for one intensive workout, you can spend about 600 kcal if the occupation is easy - about 300 kcal. Multiply this figure by the number of workouts per week. Distribute the number of calories evenly over seven days.

  • At the expense of what it costs to increase the calorie intake? Many believe that you need to add protein to the diet. This idea, frankly, is not very good. The abundance of proteins acidifies the internal environment, and this, in turn, knocks the harmonious work of hormones and enzymes. In total, proteins should account for about 20% of the daily caloric content, fats - 20%, energy value due to the share of carbohydrates - 60%. Supplement the diet with complex carbohydrates, for example, non-starchy vegetables, greens, whole grain cereals.

  • Adjust the number of workouts. In order to recover from a workout, the body needs time. On average, it takes 48-72 hours. This is the very time your body needs to break down fat cells (this does not happen during the training process!). Training 3 times a week is the best option. Two times strength, once easy cardio (treadmill or swimming).


How to adjust your diet and workout schedule if you want to gain muscle mass

  • Again, start with nutrition. You need to increase the usual calorie intake. In addition to the daily energy consumption, you need to add calorie expenditure to workouts, so the resulting figure should be increased by 10-15% during training 2 times a week, and 20-25% during training 3-4 times a week. You can increase the calorie content of your diet not only at the expense of complex carbohydrates but also at the expense of proteins. Active athletes can afford about 30% of the protein from the daily energy consumption.


  • Remember, you need rest. For the same 48-72 hours, your body will build new muscle fibres from the building material entering the body.

  • Properly build your diet on a training day. Two hours before class, eat foods that contain complex carbohydrates. It will give you energy. But after you need to eat something protein (lean meat, fish) in combination with slow carbohydrates (ideally, a salad of fresh vegetables).

It is also important in the case of weight loss, and in the case of building muscle mass to take additional complexes of vitamins and minerals. They usually include zinc, magnesium, manganese, vitamins C, group B. The doctor will help you choose the appropriate dosage, it is not recommended to prescribe them yourself.

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