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3 Mistakes that can lead to Overtraining

Have you ever felt unmotivated or had zero energy to workout?  I have had these moments, we all have.  Being involved in the fitness world, I love every aspect of fitness.  For the past 5 years, I was working out 5 days a week and had my ups and downs with the results.  I am guilty of it, I would pick up a workout magazine and try out this crazy workout and just destroy my body.  Sure, I saw some results, but I was becoming more tired throughout the day.  On top of that, I was only getting 5 hours of sleep and not eating appropriately to refuel my body.  I know stupid right?  I’m human, not perfect!

Overtraining Syndrome is a condition that no person should experience. Overtraining Syndrome (OS) has been described as chronic fatigue, burnout and staleness, where an imbalance between training/competition, versus recovery occurs. Training alone is seldom the primary cause (Brooks 2013).  It took me 2 weeks of inactivity to fully recover from overtraining syndrome. When we have chronic overtraining, all of our hormones become out of whack and you can lose the muscle mass and increase fat gain.  Some people can push through the low energy levels, but have you ever noticed that they look the same after months of training?  Some good advice that I have noticed about myself is that if you have to drink 4 big cups of coffee before you workout, you need to take some time off!  

Here are 3 mistakes that can lead to Overtraining:

  1. Not Having Enough Rest Days

This is a goal killer that I have seen over the years.  I am sure most of you out there have worked out 6 days and took off 1 day. Sure, you might be able to get away with that for a little while, but in the long run you won’t!  If there are imbalances between high training day volumes and not enough rest days then your performance may suffer.  Did you know that you are building muscle on your rest days, not during your lifting days.  When we are lifting weights, we are breaking down the muscle fibers.  During our resting days that is when our bodies are repairing the muscle.  If we keep breaking down the muscle and not give it the proper time to heal and recover, then you are wasting your time in the gym.  Fatigue is one of the most common signs that you will see when we talk about overtraining.  It can be hard to identify because you could just be having one of the lazy days and then you rebound the next day.  If you are experiencing long periods of time where you are constantly tired, then taking 3 days or more off could help you in the long run.

I am not the best person to tell you that you need to get enough sleep, because I only sleep about 4-5 hours a day.  When you are sleeping, this is the time where your body recharges and repairs itself.  Research has suggested that 6-8 hours of sleep a day.  It is important to try to stay consistent about your sleeping schedule.  Sleep length, sleep quality and sleep phase are the key factors affecting the overall recuperative outcome of sleep (Fullagar 2015).The worst thing you can do is try to catch up on your sleep, this can most likely make things worse! Like everyone, this is an area I’m constantly working on…#trainerproblems.

 2.   Your Nutrition is Not in Check

When I talk with people who are having trouble reaching their goals the first thing I ask them is how is your nutrition?  If you are going to have intense workout sessions, you better be feeding your body appropriately.  If you do not, your muscles may not fully recover.  A well balanced diet protects against overtraining syndrome.  Improper nutrient depletes nutrients, which can speed up the overtraining syndrome.

Depending on how active of a lifestyle you have and the intensity of your workouts, not putting enough calories in your body can be a problem. When we increase the intensity of exercising, you will need to eat enough protein, carbohydrates and fats throughout the day. Protein which helps build and repair muscles should consist of around 20-25% of your daily intake.  Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, this should consist of 45-60% of our daily intake.  Healthy fats such as unsaturated fats provide your body with energy should consist of around 15-20% of your diet.  

  3.   Hitting the Gym to Hard.

There have been times where I have used these crazy hard workout programs that made me so sore that I could not even move for a week.  Sometimes these dramatic changes in our workout programs (such as increasing volume or intensity) can put too much of a shock on the body.  Many see pro athletes’ or bodybuilders’ crazy hard workouts, just because they do it does not mean that it’s right for you. When we are using high rep or intensity sets multiple days a week on the same muscle groups such as drop sets, failure sets and compound sets. This can diminish your energy and take longer for your body to heal.  

Overtraining Syndrome Summary

Over the years, I have realized that when I trained too hard and often I had overtraining syndrome.  It does not matter if you have the best program in the world, if you do not rest and properly feed yourself, you won’t maximize your potential.


  1. Fullagar HH, Duffield R, Skorski S, Coutts AJ, Julian R, Meyer T. Sleep and Recovery in Team Sport: Current Sleep-related Issues Facing Professional Team-sport Athletes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015 Mar 10.
  2. Michael Gleeson. Biochemical and Immunological Markers of OverTraining. J Sports Sci Med. 2002 June; 1(2): 31–41.
  3. Brooks K, Carter J. Overtraining, Exercise, and Adrenal Insufficiency. J Nov Physiother. 2013 Feb 16;3(125)

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Chris Barber


Coach Chris Barber is a foremost expert in sports training, body composition enhancement, and application of biomechanics for performance. Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Council of Strength and Fitness (NCSF) and with United States of America WeightLifting (USAW).  Chris graduated with a B.S. at Concordia University in Irvine, CA.  He writes extensively on health, fitness, and sports, being featured in various sports magazines. Chris started as an Intern at COR in December of 2012 and has moved his way up to the Director of Personal Training and the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at COR.  Chris has been devoted in help everyone strive to achieve their goals.  Through the past 3 years Chris has developed a Kids Athletic Development Program and High School Strength and Conditioning Camps.

Chris played baseball and football for most of life.  With a career ending injury, Chris has been committed in developing young athletes so they will not only become better athletes but most importantly stay healthy!

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