19 Signs of Overtraining: How to Avoid Excessive Fatigue and OTS (2023)

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19 Signs of Overtraining: How to Avoid Excessive Fatigue and OTS (1)

Do you give everything you have in training but get less in return or even withdraw? Do you feel like you're constantly battling bronchitis, tendonitis, or some other "inflammation"? Or maybe your usual over-enthusiasm for working out has ebbed to "almost there."

These are just a few of the possible signs of overtraining syndrome (OTS), and you don't have to be a competitive athlete to develop them.

Here we'll examine what OTS is, why it's so difficult to "diagnose," the range of symptoms that can serve as warning signs, andsome ways to help the body recoverand return to previous levels of performance.

*This blog will cover many aspects of overtraining, but for the full story, theProgramm NASM CPTcan provide much more context.

What is overtraining?

In the new edition of NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (7th ed., Jones & Bartlett 2022), overtraining syndrome is described as "a condition in which an athlete or fitness client experiences fatigue, decline in performance and burnout." 2022).

Overtraining can be associated with any type of sport or fitness program, from running to group exercise to resistance training, and it can occur at any age. In 2007, paediatricians noticed an increase in OTS among children and adolescents in competitive sports (Brenner, 2007).

As with many things, overtraining can be viewed as a continuum, ranging from an occasional day of "overdoing it" to a chronic state of non-recovery that lasts for weeks, months, or even years.

To avoid going down this route, there are a few things to keep in mind before starting a workout:

  • Did you sleep well last night?
  • Was your morning resting heart rate regular (for you)?
  • Did you eat and drink enough food and liquid today?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is no, then this is a good day to revisit things. Still not sure if today is a good day to go all out? Also note these queries:

  • Are you struggling with major life stressors?
  • Are you afraid to exercise or thinking about jumping?
  • Do you feel sore or sore than usual?
  • Do you have an illness or injury?

In this case, a yes answer is a good indicator that your body is not in top shape today.

Also read: This is how you avoid physical exhaustion


Most people feel tired, sore, and stiff after a workout, especially when trying something new or increasing the intensity, volume, or other training variable. Some of these symptoms start a few hours after a workout but usually go away within a few days.

After some rest, recovery, and recharging, the athlete usually feels refreshed and ready to tackle the next workout (Sutton, 2022; Davis et al., 2020).

(Video) Overtraining and #Burnout: Common Signs and Symptoms of #Overtraining and How to Treat Burnout

However, the symptoms of overtraining last longer and are more varied. They can include:

Symptoms of exercise-related overtraining:

(1) A plateau or decline in performance or exercise progress.

(2) Perceived greater exertion during "regular" or "light" exercise.

(3) Excessive sweating or overheating.

(4) Unusual sensations of heaviness, stiffness, or pain in the muscles.

(5) Lack of feeling of "refreshment" after regular rest and recovery.

(6) Recurrent injuries such as muscle sprains, tendinitis, stress fractures and chronic joint pain.

(7) A decrease in enthusiasm for exercise (or skipping or quitting workouts).

Physical, mental and emotional changes from overtraining:

(8) Persistent feelings of tiredness, exhaustion, or low energy throughout the day.

(9) A drop in motivation and/or self-confidence.

(10) Lack of enjoyment in hobbies and favorite interests or other signs of depression.

(11) Unusual moods or emotions such as excitement, anger, confusion, irritability, and restlessness.

(12) New sleep problems, including insomnia and poor sleep quality.

(13) Concentration and performance problems at work or school.

Systemic health problems from overtraining:

(14) An unhealthy appearance, including skin, hair, and nail changes (such as acne or hair loss).

(15) An increase in resting heart rate and/or blood pressure.

(16) Unplanned/unintentional weight loss or weight gain or eating disorders.

(17) Digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite and increased thirst.

(18) Reproductive problems such as decreased libido (sex drive) and menstrual changes (including irregular menstruation or cessation).

(19) Repeated bouts of illness such as colds and upper respiratory infections.

(Budget et al., 2000; HHS, 2017; Kreher & Schwartz, 2012; Kendall-Reed & Reed, 2020)

Note: Because many of the signs of overtraining can be similar to those of health problems (like asthma, anemia, depression, and diabetes), it's important to discuss any new or unusual symptoms with a doctor as soon as they appear.

Athletes can also benefit from understanding a rare but life-threatening condition known asRhabdomyolysis, which can be the result of a single workout intense enough to break down muscle fibers and set off a dangerous biochemical chain reaction in the body. One of the characteristics of the rabdo is the brown-colored urine, like iced tea or cola (Cannon, 2019). Learn moreHere.

(Video) Avoid Over-Training by applying the Science of the Intensity Rule


19 Signs of Overtraining: How to Avoid Excessive Fatigue and OTS (3)

While the checklist above can be a helpful guide (or warning), it is somewhat subjective. Athletes may ignore or deny certain symptoms, or they may believe their health problems are less persistent, common, or severe than they are.

This can be especially true for those who are prone to exercise addiction or whose career or identity is closely tied to their exercise. The point here is that more objective measures can also help.

Researchers, health professionals, and fitness professionals may suggest lab tests, such as blood tests, to measure nutrient levels (egelectrolytesor iron), hormones (such as cortisol, thyroid andTestosterone) or other factors (such as a blood count and signs of inflammation).

However, there are some simpler ways for athletes to quantify their performance compared to the previous week or month. Here are some.

Diary and/or fitness app

Keeping a detailed workout log (including resistance/weight, time and number of sets/reps, etc.) makes it easy to compare current and past performance. If desired, athletes can also log information about sleep, nutrition, injuries, illnesses, and other metrics.

High-tech work (apps, smartwatches, tracking programs) and low-tech work (a handwritten journal). Participants must select the method they are most likely to adhere to.

performance ratings

Participating in regular assessments can provide a useful basis for comparison. This is something certified personal trainers do when they first meet a client and repeat it regularly thereafter. It is ideal for measuring cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and endurance.

Examples of simple assessments include timing a 1-mile run or counting how many push-ups you can do before breaks in form (NASM, n.d.). (Find more performance reviewsHere.)

You can also find a resource atfirst fitness appointmentsjMovement Ratingsfollow the respective links.

Perceived effort ratings

The perceived stress rating assigns numbers on a scale of 1 to 10 (or 1 to 20) to various stress levels. Users can use this during any part of a workout. The number chosen should reflect how the person is feeling in general. Recording these results can help identify changes in perceived exertion that may be related to overtraining.

heart rate and blood pressure

Ruhepulsit is usually lower in more conditioned people; However, it is likely to increase when an athlete is overtrained.

Many sports watches monitor your heart rate automatically, making it easy to measure your RHR, but it's also easy to manually measure your heart rate from your wrist. (Count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to get the beats per minute.) It is best to take the measurements in the morning before getting up.

Overtraining can also lead to an increaseresting blood pressure, which you can follow at home. A healthcare professional can suggest a reputable monitor brand and explain the ideal goals, as they vary from person to person (Sutton, 2022).

recovery heart rateHeart rate immediately after exercise can also be affected by overtraining. This is used to see how long it takes for an elevated exercise heart rate to return to normal resting levels.

Healthy people generally experience a quicker return to normal heart rate than those who are unfit. If this recovery rate is taking longer than usual, it could be a sign of deconditioning (Sutton, 2022).

risk assessment

As mentioned above, overtraining doesn't just happen when you overdo it during exercise or don't prioritize recovery. Seemingly unrelated factors can also make a person more prone to overtraining.

This could include following a monotonous schedule, participating in only one activity or sport, having a recent illness or injury (even if resolved), having recently participated in a competition or extreme training session (e.g. a black belt tryouts). . ), experiencing a major life event such as moving house, death, divorce, losing or changing jobs, or even something positive like the birth or adoption of a child.

Environmental conditions such as altitude, temperature, humidity and even a change in time zone can also affect the body's post-workout recovery. The more factors there are, the more likely the athlete will need to adjust their training program to avoid overdoing it (Kendall-Reed & Reed, 2020).


The requirements for restoring your balance vary from person to person.

If overtraining is prolonged or recurring, or if the physical symptoms include system-wide changes, it is best to enlist the help of a team of health and fitness professionals. Here are some of the key pillars of recovery that you're likely to address:


It may be better to stop training altogether for at least a week and, in severe cases, to cancel upcoming competitions or events. Many athletes can see improvements simply by reducing their training by 50 to 80 percent.

This does not mean that light activities (such asgoor chores) is bound to be off-limits unless illness or physical injury requires an even longer period of rest (Cleveland Clinic, 2020; Stryker, 2016).

(Video) 8 Signs You're Overtraining (Without Knowing It)

Active recovery exercises are a great way to incorporate rest while facilitating recovery.See this blog about active recovery exercises.


Most American adults don't get the 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. These needs can increase when a person is recovering from overtraining or simply after a challenging workout or series of workouts.

Good sleep hygiene begins with choosing a bedtime and a wake-up time, and then sticking to them consistently over the weekend. To learn how to create habits that make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, visit the NSF website (NSF, 2020; Lastella et al., 2018).


Often people trying to lose weight reduce their calorie intake to the point where there is not enough food left for recovery. For example, the body needs an adequate supply of proteinmuscle protein synthesis(Muscle reconstruction at the molecular level) (Sutton, 2022).

Also of interest is the recent increase in recommended daily fluid intake. Today, 11.5 cups a day is recommended for women and 15.5 for men. After more than an hour of exercise, an additional 12 to 16 ounces every 15 minutes is recommended (Sutton, 2022).

Get over

If an illness or injury is present, they should be evaluated and treated before returning to sport. Depending on the type of injury, the athlete may need to change their training, make training adjustments, or train in other areas until the injury heals. Again, a doctor can best guide these areas of recovery.

"Treatments" may also include the use of tools and strategies shown to aid in recovery, such as B. Water immersion, compression garments, massage, active recovery, and self-myofascial release (e.g., with a foam roller). ).


Downtime offers users the opportunity to take a closer look at their training schedule. While OTS is not caused by exercise alone, it can be reduced with evidence-based programming. For example, NASM recommends adopting aintegrated training program, which includes “all forms” of exercise (balance, cardio, core, flexibility, plyometrics, resistance and speed, agility, and quickness training).

It's also important to use a systematic and progressive approach, sinceo modelo NASM Optimum Performance Training™, which begins with the domain ofbasic movement patterns(essential daily movements). Together, integrated, systematic, and progressive approaches can help prevent injury and overtraining while maximizing results (Sutton, 2022).


While overtraining syndrome is a widespread force in the fitness world, why are OTS sometimes treated with the same skepticism as UFOs?

  1. First, there is no test "that" can definitively diagnose overtraining syndrome.
  2. Second, there is no consensus on the observable and measurable changes that should be used to identify OTS. In a recent comparison of 22 resistance exercise studies, the OTS marker agreed by all research teams was a “persistent decline in performance” (Grandou et al., 2020).

These two facts have led some experts to propose renaming it "paradoxical deconditioning syndrome" or "unexplained underachievement syndrome."Additionally, many researchers have argued that the inclusion of the word "overtraining" in the name implies that the root cause is always in the training program. However, it is now believed that OTS results from an accumulation of factors, many of them outside of training sessions.

This more complex view is reflected in the NASM book's definition of overtraining as "excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training resulting in decreased performance that is also caused by a lack of adequate rest and recovery" (Sutton, 2022).

Also, watch this episode of the NASM-CPT podcast to learn even more about overtraining syndrome:


In order for an athlete to achieve their training goals, be it appearance, health, strength, performance, or a combination thereof, a stimulus or stressor must be repeatedly applied to the body over time. This will lead to specific adjustments related to that stressor.

This reaction is known as the General Adjustment Syndrome. Once the body can meet the new demands of this stressor, an additional or different stimulus must be applied in order for the athlete to make further progress.

Part of the art and science of fitness programming is understanding how to select the appropriate stressors for the athlete's goals and progress safely. (NASM Certified Personal TrainerThe course provides basic fundamental knowledge in this area and is open to everyone, including fitness enthusiasts who do not aspire to a career in the industry).

The three stages of the General Adjustment Syndrome

IsGeneral adjustment syndromeThe model includes three phases in which the body reacts to a stressor:

Alarm reaction(the body's initial response, such as tiredness, joint stiffness and/or subsequent muscle soreness).

development of resistance(Adaptation of the body to the stressor after repeated sessions).

exhaustion(a state of distress resulting from exposure to "prolonged" and/or "intolerable" stressors).

Fatigue can lead to persistent fatigue, which can lead to pain, injury, and (over time) harmful changes in body processes and organ systems. Therefore, the ideal training approach involves progressive overload, where the intensity or volume of training is gradually and systematically increased to avoid fatigue and achieve desired adjustments.

The phased approach of the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ model is designed to help trainees achieve their goals in a systematic and confident manner. It is based on a multi-level and step-by-step approach that assesses the athlete's current condition and works from there to develop strength, balance, integrated movement, flexibility and other improvements.

Rick Richey, MS, NASM-CPT and Master Instructor provides an overview of the NASM-CPT Podcast: Introducing the OPT Model, available as an audio file and written transcript.

(Video) How To Maximize Gains and NOT Overtrain | Overtraining Science Explained


Many fitness enthusiasts overexert themselves from time to time, such as when competing or returning to their sport after a long break. But when over-zealous training leads to fatigue and a drop in performance that lasts for a few weeks, they sayextralimitández.

If this is followed by adequate recovery, this can improve performance as the body "overcompensates" after rest; this is called functional overreaching. Non-functional overload occurs when the body doesn't get the rest and recovery it needs to repair and regenerate before the next workout.

While overtraining and overexertion sound similar, the NASM 2022 notes that "the subtle difference has to do with the amount of time it takes for performance recovery, not the type or duration of the training stress."

functional overloadresults in poor performance for a few days followed by full recovery.

non-functional overreachleads to poor performance lasting up to three weeks, followed by full recovery.

overtraining syndromecharacterized by two or more months of poor performance. OTS recovery can take months or even years.

Sometimes the damage caused by OTS can be so severe that the athlete cannot return to that sport (Cadegiani et al., 2020).

Luckily, by learning to spot the symptoms of overtraining early, athletes can halt their descent down this slippery slope rather than minimizing or pushing them.


Brenner, J.S., and the Sports Medicine and Fitness Council. (2007). Overuse, overtraining and fatigue injuries in child and youth athletes. Pediatrics, 119(6), 1242-1245. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-0887.

Budgett R, Newsholme E, Lehmann M, Sharp C, Jones D, Jones T, Peto T, Collins D, Nerurkar R and White P (2000). Redefining overtraining syndrome as an unexplained underperforming syndrome. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34, 67-68.http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.34.1.67.

Cadegiani FA, da Silva PHL, Abrao TCP, & Kater CE (2020.) Diagnosis of Overtraining Syndrome: Results of the Study of Endocrine and Metabolic Responses in Overtraining Syndrome: EROS DIAGNOSIS. Journal of Sports Medicine, 2020, Article ID 3937819, 1-17. doi.org/10.1155/2020/3937819.

Cannon, J. (2 August 2019). Rhabdomyolysis: What Every Fitness Pro Needs to Know American Fitness (Summer). https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/rhabdomiolilysis.

Clark, MA, Lucett, SC, McGill, E., Montel, I., and Sutton, B. (eds.). (2018). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (6th Edition). Burlington, MA: Aprendizaje de Jones & Bartlett.

Cleveland Clinic. (2018, October 22). 7 Signs Exercising Is Really Bad For Your Healthhttps://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-signs-that-exercise-is-really-hurting-your-health/.

Davis, H.L., Alabed, S. & Chico, T.J.A. (2020). Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine (6),1, e000614. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000614.

Grandou C, Wallace L, Impellizzeri FM, Allen NG and Coutts AJ. (2020) Overtraining with resistance exercises: a systematic exploratory review and methodological review of the literature. Sports Medicine, 50, 815-828.https://doi.org/10.17605/osf.io/5bmsp.

Specialty Surgery Hospital. (2017, January 12). overtraining.https://www.hss.edu/conditions_overtraining.asp.

Kendall-Reed, P. & Reed, S. (2020). Overtraining Syndrome: Update 2020. Institute for Sports and Exercise Medicine.https://www.semisportmed.com/síndrome-sobreentrenamiento/.

Kreher, JB and Schwartz, JB (2012). Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide. Sports Health, 4(2), 128-138.https://dx.doi.org/10.1177%2F1941738111434406.

Lastella M, Vincent GE, Duffield R, Roach GD, Halson SL, Heales LJ, & Sargent C (2018). Can sleep be used as an indicator of overexertion and overtraining in athletes? Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 436. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00436.

McComb, J & Gates, L (2014). Exercise Precautions for Female Athletes: Signs of Overtraining in Active Women: Lifelong Health Issues (2nd ed., pp. 351–356). New York: Springers. Doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-8884-2_23.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). (n.d.) Performance evaluation: cardio, endurance and strength. Accessed December 2, 2020. https://www.nasm.org/edge/info/performance-assessments.

National Sleep Foundation (NSF). (2020, July 31). How much sleep do we really need? https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need.

(Video) Are You Overtraining? | The Effects of Overtraining on Hormones- Thomas DeLauer

Stryker, K. (2016). Why You May Overtrain (And How To Recover Quickly). https://www.12minuteathlete.com/recover-from-overtraining/.

Sutton, B. (ed.). (2022). NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (7th Edition). Burlington, MA: Jones and BartlettTeach.


How do you manage overtraining and excessive fatigue levels? ›

The only way that you can recover from overtraining is by resting. This means that you need to stop training for a determined period of time. The time will vary depending on the sport and the level of activity, but most recovery takes between 4 to 12 weeks.

What are signs of overtraining? ›

Exercise-related symptoms of overtraining:

(1) A plateau or decline in workout performance or progress. (2) A perception of increased exertion during “normal” or “easy” workouts. (3) Excessive sweating or overheating. (4) Unusual feelings of heaviness, stiffness, or soreness in muscles.

What is the best way to prevent overtraining? ›

To prevent overtraining, schedule regular rest days after long or demanding workouts. Take a break from targeting a muscle group for 1 or 2 days if you do weight or resistance training. At the same time, don't allow for too much time to lapse between workout sessions. Have a rest period during your workout.

Which are the 5 signs or symptoms of overtraining? ›

5 Signs You're Overtraining
  • You're fatigued. After a workout, you should feel like you have done work, but you should also feel energized. ...
  • You're sore for days. ...
  • You can't remember the last time you took a rest day. ...
  • You're injured. ...
  • You're dehydrated.
Aug 13, 2020

What are the 4 ways to avoid overtraining? ›

  • Avoid monotonous training activities.
  • Avoid sudden increases in training, such as doubling workout times or intensities. Gradual increases allow the body to properly train, adjust, and recover.
  • Integrate appropriate rest periods into all training regimens.
Dec 7, 2019

How do athletes deal with fatigue? ›

Sleep is essential to recharge your body with the rest needed to feel fully functional and perform well. Eating the right foods at the right times is also energizing and fights fatigue. The combination of adequate food plus adequate sleep not only sharply reduces fatigue—but also the need for caffeine.


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