Dangers of Overtraining

Overtraining is a consequence of taking an exercise routine to an excessive level, forcing the body to reach levels of resistance that it isn't prepared for.
Dangers of Overtraining

Last update: 09 October, 2018

The famous saying, “more is better” doesn’t apply to anything involving sports. One of the most common mistakes we make when exercising, is thinking that by training for more hours and more days a week, we will get better and faster results. Nothing is further from reality. Keep reading to learn about the dangers of overtraining.

What is overtraining?

For those athletes who dedicate several hours each day, to exercise, overtraining is difficult to assimilate. This means that they often force their body to reach farther than it should, only to find themselves in difficult situations afterward. Besides lowering your performance, an increase in heart rate, even after you have rested, can be an indicative sign that you’re beginning to suffer symptoms of overtraining.

What are the dangers of overtraining?

Although you may not believe it, the aforementioned consequences are the least of your worries. This is because overtraining can produce alterations in our physical and emotional health, which can be very difficult to alleviate. Here are some of the most common issues:


When muscles and tendons are forced to perform a tougher exercise than the one they are prepared for, or for longer than they can resist, they are likely to seize up. This doesn’t seem very serious because it can be solved with time and a massage, but as we mentioned, this is the least that could happen. This reaction is only a warning of something worse to come.

Dangers of overtraining

Tears, breaks, and even permanent injuries, such as tendinitis, are some of the dangers of overtraining. There are cases where there have been bone fractures as well.

Increase in cardiac frequency

As we previously mentioned, an increase in heart rate, even when at rest, is one of the dangers of overtraining that, if it persists, must be treated. This could cause arrhythmias or even cardiac arrest.

Weight loss

As you will know, when you exercise, your muscles suffer a series of micro tears, which allows the muscles to grow. However, for this to happen, it’s necessary for your muscles to recover.

If you exercise for several hours, over many consecutive days, this recovery process will not happen. Eventually, it will give way to muscle atrophy, which will weaken your body and make you lose weight without building muscle mass. Furthermore, you will lose your appetite, which could lead to episodes of anorexia.

Chronic fatigue

Don’t think that by training more, you will have greater resistance. Quite the opposite is true, as overtraining could lead to exhaustion to such a degree that it becomes chronic fatigue. This could cause insomnia, which diminishes your intellectual capacity, dexterity, and coordination.

Resting is vital to avoid overtraining.

As you can see, it would have a domino effect with fatal consequences that can even impact your work performance, your relationships, and your family life.

How to exercise without falling into the dangers of overtraining

If you think you’re spending too much time at the gym, it’s time to change your habits and follow these tips:

  • Sleep for at least eight hours a day.
  • Rest for two days a week, this is the minimum amount. Take the weekend off from work, but also from the gym. Calm down; you won’t lose what you’ve worked for during the week. On the contrary, you will reinforce it, because resting is just as important as exercise.
  • Take a vacation. Yes; you must also take one month of vacation, per year, from exercising.
  • Drink lots of water. Hydration is vital for the proper function of our bodies.
  • Eat healthily. We’re not talking about dieting, instead, we advise you to avoid meals with trans fats and processed foods. Choose vegetables and fresh foods that give you energy and make you feel healthy.

Your body listens and does everything your mind commands it to, so train your mind!

Overtraining shouldn’t be taken lightly because anorexia, cardiac arrest, and chronic fatigue are serious issues that we must be aware of, since they’re the worst consequences of excessive exercise.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bell L, Ruddock A, Maden-Wilkinson T, Hembrough D, Rogerson D. “Is It Overtraining or Just Work Ethic?”: Coaches’ Perceptions of Overtraining in High-Performance Strength Sports. Sports (Basel). 2021 Jun 7;9(6):85.
  • Cheng AJ, Jude B, Lanner JT. Intramuscular mechanisms of overtraining. Redox Biol. 2020 Aug;35:101480.
  • Halson SL, Jeukendrup AE. Does overtraining exist? An analysis of overreaching and overtraining research. Sports Med. 2004;34(14):967-81.
  • Kreher JB. Diagnosis and prevention of overtraining syndrome: an opinion on education strategies. Open Access J Sports Med. 2016 Sep 8;7:115-22.
  • Kreher JB, Schwartz JB. Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide. Sports Health. 2012 Mar;4(2):128-38.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.