Excessive Exercise: How to Detect It

Excessive exercise or overtraining syndrome occurs when the athlete can’t cope with training demands. Its consequences negatively affect performance and health.
Excessive Exercise: How to Detect It

Last update: 10 February, 2021

Both quality and quantity matter in exercise and training. A sedentary lifestyle is harmful and affects well-being. However, excessive exercise isn’t healthy either.

When it comes to designing workouts, it’s very important to bear in mind that the load, volume, or intensity can’t exceed each athlete’s limits. It’s better to take it slow, progressively increasing the difficulty, than to risk overdoing it in a short time.

Signs and consequences of excessive exercise

On the other hand, many people mistakenly believe that the more they exercise, the faster they’ll achieve results. This idea is very dangerous and has negative consequences for an athlete’s physical and mental health. For that reason, below, we’ll tell you how to detect excessive exercise.

You’re suffering muscle and mental fatigue

Fatigue can manifest in two ways. On a physical level, due to the muscles’ reaction to continuous stress. On a mental level, due to not disconnecting nor finding moments of relaxation.

People who exercise excessively experience more muscle aches or joint pain, but they also experience cognitive decline. This deterioration manifests as difficulty concentrating, slowed thinking, or episodes of irritability.

A man with muscle fatigue.
It’s very important to avoid muscle fatigue to meet your training goals.

Fortunately, any type of fatigue is reversible. You simply have to plan your breaks adequately and avoid pushing or overexerting yourself.

Changes in appetite or sleep

Excessive exercise often affects other physiological processes, such as hunger or sleep. This has a negative influence on sports performance. Likewise, it contributes to the development of negative emotional states, such as stress or anxiety.

According to an article by professionals from the Technical University of Machala, overtraining syndrome or excessive exercise leads to insomnia and loss of appetite.

Many causes that are unrelated to physical activity could explain these phenomena. Thus, it’s best to consult a professional. Nonetheless, experts suspect that excessive exercise has something to do with it when physical and emotional symptoms also appear after training.

Excessive exercise: it’s harder for you to accomplish your goals

The relationship between training and performance isn’t entirely linear. When you’re a beginner, it’s true that the more you train, the more you progress. However, there comes a point where your performance slows down and it isn’t as easy to make progress.

This is completely normal and happens to all athletes. However, the solution isn’t to train more than you need to. In fact, in these cases, overtraining leads to frustration and anger because you can’t progress as fast as you want to.

A solution to avoid this is to constantly reevaluate your goals. Goals aren’t inflexible obligations that an athlete must accomplish. Instead, they help to boost their motivation and have information about their rate of progress.

The exercises you used to like now bore you

One of the keys to boosting performance is varying your exercise routines. This way, you ensure that your body adapts to a new stressor and you refresh your mind, and avoid boredom due to monotony.

A tired woman due to overtraining syndrome.
Excessive exercise can seriously affect an athlete’s motivation.

However, one of the symptoms of overtraining syndrome is boredom and apathy from physical exercise. This means that the exercise routines you used to do eagerly and with determination, now produce rejection and reluctance.

Ultimately, this can lead to negative consequences, such as aversion to exercising or avoidance of competitions. An article published by the Journal of Physical Education and Sport states this.

Don’t over-exercise

The negative consequences of overtraining syndrome develop gradually. This means that the athlete won’t wake up one morning feeling all these negative symptoms. Instead, they’ll start suffering from them little by little, until their well-being is compromised.

For that reason, it’s very important to take preventive measures and detect excessive exercise early. Prevention begins by planning well-structured training and rest periods, adapted to each athlete’s abilities.

On the other hand, for early detection, it’s essential for coaches and personal trainers to be attentive to possible variations or decreased sports performance. Similarly, the athlete must know how to detect and communicate these symptoms.

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.

  • Hanne-Paparo, N. (1984). El sobreentrenamiento en los atletas. Educación Física y Deporte, 6(1), 42-45.
  • Urgiles Pazmiño, F. A. (2016). Signos y síntomas del síndrome de sobreentrenamiento y su influencia en los deportistas amateur y dealto rendimiento.

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