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When you started lifting you had more energy and felt proud of the gains you made. You looked forward to getting in the gym and the high you felt after a good workout. Lately, it seems the thrill is gone. That may just be a warning sign that you are lifting too much and are overtraining your body. Overtraining your body is not a healthy way to make gains and stay in shape and in fact, it can actually hurt your body’s overall health. Here’s what to look out for.

Exhaustion

The high you looked forward to after a great session in the gym has gone away. Now you feel exhausted and irritable after your workout. Sometimes it is even tough to get through all your sets. If that sounds like you, you are probably lifting too much. A successful lifting regimen includes variety and regular rest periods. Although it may feel like overdoing it will bring results more quickly, overtraining undermines your progress.

Soreness or pain

Overtraining injuries can eventually be sidelining. Don’t let the rush of endorphins encourage you to tune out pain warnings. If you start dreading normal activities of daily living because they are too painful, you are probably overtraining. If dressing, grooming or taking the stairs is tough because it hurts too much to lift your arms or legs it is time to rethink your training plan. Pain that lasts beyond three days is not normal and can be a sign of overtraining.

Loss of motivation

The thing you used to enjoy – moving through reps and sets – has now become a chore you drag yourself through. Too much of a good thing can quickly go bad. In this place, your form suffers, and your pleasure in the task lags then finally vanishes. You are more prone to injury and, believe it or not, depression. Set clear, realistic goals for each month and build in some variety to keep interest and motivation high. Maintain other interests that help you nurture your whole self, including all your talents and gifts – not just your ability to build muscle.

Reduced immunity

Appropriate training boosts immunity, so you get sick less often. When you do get sick, you can usually count on reduced severity and duration. Conversely, overtraining reduces immunity, so you get sick or just feel plain rotten and tired more often. If that sounds like you take a few rest days, and while you’re at it, take a good look at your diet. Is it nutritionally sound? Are you getting enough carbs, protein and healthy fats? Training demands a lot of your body. To offset those demands, you must give your body the fuel it needs to perform, as well as carry you through your day, with adequate energy.

There is nothing wrong with showing up and going hard. The problem is a failure to recognize the value of nutrition and rest days to any successful weight training program. Overtraining leads to injury, boredom, illness, and burnout. If you plan to be in the game for the long haul, your plan must include enough maintenance to successfully make the journey.