Sure, you’re thirsty when you’re working out, but are you still thirsty long afterward? If so, it might be due to overtraining. “Your body might be in a catabolic state — that means breaking down tissue — and sometimes we don’t even know why that’s happening,” says Stark. That breakdown of tissue places more demand on your body overall, which includes a greater need for hydration.
One of the most effective ways to halt this breakdown is by consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein (found in products like Beachbody Performance Recover) during the first 30 to 60 minutes following exercise.
Having trouble falling or staying asleep? Insomnia can impact anyone, but if you fear that you’re training too hard and you’re having trouble sleeping, you might have your answer. “It’s not energy where you can stay up and do things, it’s not that wonderful feeling of fatigue when you can fall right asleep,” says Dr. Stark. “It’s neither.”
Low Sex Drive
You should feel like a sexual tyrannosaurus after a good workout, right? Maybe not, especially if you’ve entered a catabolic state owed to overtraining. Dr. Stark likens it to studying for an exam: “You can get diminishing returns; it becomes counterproductive to work out.” This describes overtraining in general, but when it comes to your sex drive, “enjoyment of anything is going to be thrown off if you’re in a catabolic state.”
A good workout helps to elevate your immune system. However, too much working out, or working out too hard can lead to a suppressed immune response and more frequent illness. This again can relate to the catabolic state, but it might have another, more complex answer to do with something called cytokines, of which your body is either producing too many or not enough. Regardless of the cause, Dr. Stark says, “It certainly makes sense that when you’re in a state of oxidative stress that it’s not going to be able to fight infections as well.”
If you’ve never had trouble with headaches in the past, but all of a sudden you’re experiencing minor headaches or even migraines, overtraining might be the culprit. Dr. Stark says that many times this is a secondary symptom related to suppressed immune system, dehydration, a lack of focus, or depression.
Changes in Personality
Depression is a widely recognized sign of overtraining. Lesser known is that any wild personality changes can be among the symptoms of overtraining. You might feel irritable or depressed, or suddenly find that you have difficulty focusing. Dr. Stark points out that there can be cyclical, self-reinforcing aspects to many of these symptoms. “You can’t sleep, you’re getting frequently ill and injured, you’re not able to perform at the gym — the harder you try, the worse you do, you’re less productive at work, you can’t concentrate.” All of that can lead to personality changes.
If you’ve plateaued, the answer might be to back off a bit, not to go even harder. Muscle tears are a big part of getting bigger. Overtraining, however, can mean that you’re just tearing them open again and again. Remember: muscle growth happens during rest, not during training. Dr. Stark says this is one of the early signs of overtraining.