How to Avoid Overtraining

Programmed rest days are a clever way to keep the body adapting to the stimulus you throw at it.
The body regenerates during rest and becomes better and stronger than before. It is important that we respect this.

Rest days essentially allow you to keep performance levels at their highest. Overtraining can be masked for a period but eventually the body will break down resulting in injury and noticeable drops in performance. These should be the two things we look to avoid as much as possible with our training.  Investing in a Personal Trainer is a great way to learn about balance and to find what is optimal for you.

How well we adapt to the training we do is largely down to how well we can recover from it.
Rest day recommendations vary person to person and factors such as training level, experience, job type, age, weekly schedule and diet need to come into account.

Some Guidelines to Consider

  • 2-4 days per week should be taken as rest.  This fits with our training recommendations of 3-5 training sessions per week.
  • Every training block should consist of a deload week where training intensities and volumes are lower than the previous weeks, this applies more to those who train more frequently (4-5 times per week). A deload could be programmed in every 5th week for example and will help to keep performance levels at their highest.
  • Regular bouts of mobility work. Little and often for me outweighs doing 1 big session a week. Get a daily 5-10min routine that works for you and focuses on problem areas and do it every other day.
  • Diet and nutrition – getting adequate levels of protein as well as overall calories consistently will go a long way to keeping energy levels and recovery optimal – quality of food may also play its part in getting adequate micronutrients necessary for recovery.
  • Getting adequate sleep 6-9 hours per day.
  • Following a well balanced training programme.
  • Avoid training twice in the same day.  Try to spread your sessions out throughout the week.
  • Massage 1 x per month (more if you can afford it – don’t wait till you’re injured).
  • Walking and light stretching on your rest days can be a great way to increase blood flow, get nutrients to areas that are damaged and fatiqued and generally speed up recovery.
  • Avoid training to maximum failure, try to train at a level that is optimal for you.

Signs of Over Training 

  • Persistent Muscle Soreness
  • Elevated Resting Heart Rate
  • Loss of Strength and or Performance
  • Increase incidence of injuries and niggles
  • Loss of motivation
  • Struggling to sleep at nights
  • Tiredness and lack of motivation during the day
  • Feeling depressed
  • Picking up regular colds and infections
  • Noticeable decrease or increase in appetite

How to monitor your fatigue levels

  1. Doing a grip strength test at the start of your session– if you are producing lower than normal scores this could imply that you are somewhat fatigued.
  2. Test your resting heart rate – if it is consistently showing higher than normal readings it may be a sign you need to take a break.
  3. Self Analysis Report – similar to using an RPE scale measure yourself daily on how you feel from 1-10.  It is a simple and quick way of assessing how you are feeling and getting to know your body better.

1 – No fatigue

2 – Mild Fatigue

3 – Moderate Fatigue

4 – High Fatigue

5 – Severe Fatigue

Optimal would be 1-3

Key Take Aways

Listen to the Body – Learn to understand how you feel and how it relates to your performance levels.  Understand that you will need to take a break from time to time and that its ok to do so.  Not all your training needs to be intense, balance the Yin and Yang.  Respect the rest days: they are just as important as the training days.  Follow a programme and routine that is suitable to your goals, lifestyle, commitments and ability level.


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