Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Overtraining occurs when a person exceeds their body's ability to recover from strenuous exercise.[1] Overtraining can be described as a point where a person may have a decrease in performance and plateauing as a result of failure to consistently perform at a certain level or training load; a load which exceeds their recovery capacity.[2] People who are overtrained cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is also known as chronic fatigue, burnout and overstress in athletes.[3][4] It is suggested that there are different variations of overtraining, firstly monotonous program over training suggest that repetition of the same movement such as certain weight lifting and baseball batting can cause performance plateau due to an adaption of the central nervous system which results from a lack of stimulation.[2] A second example of overtraining is described as chronic overwork type training where the subject may be training with too high intensity or high volume and not allowing sufficient recovery time for the body.[2] Up to 10% of elite endurance athletes and 10% of American college swimmers are affected by overtraining syndrome (unexplained underperformance for approximately 2 weeks even after having adequate resting time).[5]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Listed below are some of the common effects and cited signs of overtraining.[6][7][8][9]

Overtraining may be accompanied by one or more concomitant symptoms:[6][7]

It is important to note the difference between overtraining and over-reaching; over-reaching is when an athlete is undergoing hard training but with adequate recovery, overtraining however, is when an athlete is undergoing hard training without the adequate recovery. With over-reaching, the consequential drop in performance can be resolved in a few days or weeks.[14]


  • Early onset of fatigue
  • Decreased aerobic capacity (VO2 max)
  • Poor physical performance
  • Inability to complete workouts
  • Delayed recovery

Overtraining can affect the athlete's athletic ability and other areas of life, such as performance in studies or the work force. An overtrained athlete who is suffering from physical and or psychological symptoms could also have trouble socialising with friends and family, studying for an exam or preparing for work.[14]


Like pharmacological drugs, physical exercise may be chemically addictive. Addiction can be defined as the frequent engaging in the behavior to a greater extent or for a longer time period than intended.[15][16] It is theorized that this addiction is due to natural endorphins and dopamine generated and regulated by the exercise.[17] Whether strictly due to this chemical by-product or not, some people can be said to become addicted to or fixated on psychological/physical effects of physical exercise and fitness.[18] This may lead to over exercise, resulting in the "overtraining" syndrome.[19]


A number of possible mechanisms for overtraining have been proposed. One stipulates that microtrauma to the muscles are created faster than the body can heal them.[20] Another proposes that amino acids are used up faster than they are supplied in the diet, a condition sometimes referred to as "protein deficiency".[21] Finally, systemic inflammation has been considered as a mechanism in which the release of cytokines activates an excessive immune response.[22]


The most effective way to treat the effects of overtraining is to allow the body enough time to recover:

  • Taking a break from training to allow time for recovery.[23]
  • Reducing volume and/or intensity of training.[24]
  • Suitable periodization of training.[25]
  • Splitting the training program so that different sets of muscles are worked on different days.[23]
  • Increase sleep time.
  • Deep-tissue or sports massage of the affected muscles.[26]
  • Self-massage or rub down of the affected muscles.[26]
  • Short sprints with long resting time once the athlete is able to continue with light training.[5]


Adapting nutritional intake can help to prevent and treat overtraining. Athletes in different fields will emphasize different proportional nutrition factors on the diet mainly including proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The diet includes a calorie intake that at least matches expenditure,[23] ideally forming a suitable macronutrient ratio.[27] During the recovery process, extra calories from diets may help the body speed the recovery. Finally, addressing vitamin deficiencies[23][27] with improved diet and/or nutritional supplements has been proposed as a way to speed up recovery.


Exertional rhabdomyolysis is an extreme and potentially deadly form of overtraining that leads to a breakdown of skeletal muscle which makes its way into the blood. Many molecules such as potassium, creatine kinase, phosphate, and myoglobin are released into circulation. Myoglobin is the protein that causes the lethal reaction in the body. Early detection of the syndrome is essential in full recovery. A serious late complication of rhabdomyolysis which occurs in 15% of the population is acute kidney injury, and in some cases it can lead to death.[28]

Clinical presentation[28][edit]

  • Muscle pain
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Bruising
  • Tea colored urine
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Nausea
  • Emesis
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Delirium
  • Anuria

CrossFit and rhabdomyolysis[edit]

As CrossFit has become more and more prevalent and popular, this has led to speculation that spikes in rhabdomyolysis cases are related to CrossFit. According to a study performed in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, unless performed incorrectly and in harmful environments, CrossFit presents no serious physical threat to the human body, and research into whether rhabdomyolysis cases and CrossFit are correlated is inconclusive.[29]


Passive recovery, instead of active recovery, is a form of rest that is recommended to be performed by athletes in between rigorous, intermittent exercise. With active recovery, time to exhaustion is much shorter because the muscles are deoxygenated at a much quicker rate than with passive recovery. Thus, if avoiding overtraining means preventing exhaustion, passive recovery or "static rest" is safest. If active recovery is performed during intense exercise, an athlete may find themselves in a state of being overtrained.[30] The gradual variation of intensity and volume of training is also an effective way to prevent overtraining.


  1. ^ Walker, Brad (17 March 2002). "Overtraining - Learn how to identify Overtraining Syndrome". stretchcoach.com. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  2. ^ a b c Stone, M (1991). "Overtraining: A Review of the Signs, Symptoms and Possible Causes". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 5: 35–50. doi:10.1519/00124278-199102000-00006.
  3. ^ Peluso M., Andrade L. (2005). "Physical activity and mental health: the association between exercise and mood". Clinics. 60 (1): 61–70. doi:10.1590/s1807-59322005000100012. PMID 15838583.
  4. ^ Carfagno D.; Hendrix J. (2014). "Overtraining Syndrome in the Athlete". Current Sports Medicine Reports. 13 (1): 45–51. doi:10.1249/jsr.0000000000000027. PMID 24412891. S2CID 38361107.
  5. ^ a b c d Whyte, Gregory; Harries, Mark; Williams, Clyde (2005). ABC of sports and exercise medicine. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 46–49. ISBN 978-0-7279-1813-0.
  6. ^ a b Johnson, MB; Thiese, SM (1992). "A review of overtraining syndrome-recognizing the signs and symptoms". Journal of Athletic Training. 27 (4): 352–4. PMC 1317287. PMID 16558192.
  7. ^ a b "Top 10 Signs You're Overtraining". The American Council on Exercise. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Overtraining with Resistance Exercise" (PDF). American College of Sports Medicine. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Overtraining and Osteoporosis". WebMD, LLC. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  10. ^ MacKinnon, Laurel (30 May 2000). "Overtraining effects on immunity and performance in athletes". Immunology and Cell Biology. 78 (5): 502–509. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1711.2000.t01-7-.x. PMID 11050533. S2CID 37150248. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  11. ^ Budgett, Richard (10 March 1998). "Fatigue and underperformance in athletes: the overtraining syndrome". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 32 (2): 107–110. doi:10.1136/bjsm.32.2.107. PMC 1756078. PMID 9631215.
  12. ^ Brenner, Joel S (June 1, 2007). "Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes". Pediatrics. 119 (6): 1242–1245. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-0887. PMID 17545398. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  13. ^ Lehmann, M.J.; Lormes, W.; Opitz-Gress, A; Steinacker, J.M.; Netzer, N.; Foster, C.; Gastmann, U. (17 March 1997). "Training and overtraining: an overview and experimental results in endurance sports". Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 37 (1): 7–17. PMID 9190120. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  14. ^ a b Kreider, R. B.; Fry, A. C.; O'Toole, M. L., eds. (1998). Overtraining in sport. Human Kinetics.
  15. ^ Goodman A (1990). "Addiction: definition and implications". Addiction. 85 (11): 1403–1408. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.1990.tb01620.x. PMID 2285834.
  16. ^ Mitchell A (2007). "Confronting Addiction Across Disciplines". Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology. 13 (3): 233–236. doi:10.1353/ppp.2007.0016. S2CID 143689824.
  17. ^ Adams, Jeremy; Kirkby, Robert (1998). "Exercise dependence: A review of its manifestation, theory and measurement". Research in Sports Medicine. 8 (3): 265–76. doi:10.1080/15438629809512532.
  18. ^ Draeger, John; Yates, Alayne; Crowell, Douglas (2005). "The Obligatory Exerciser: Assessing an Overcommitment to Exercise". The Physician and Sportsmedicine. 33 (6): 13–23. doi:10.3810/psm.2005.06.101. PMID 20086364. S2CID 37636507.
  19. ^ Baldwin, Dave R. (2002-03-27). Exercise Motivational Triggers. iUniverse. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-595-21603-1.
  20. ^ MacKinnon, Laurel (30 May 2000). "Overtraining effects on immunity and performance in athletes". Immunology & Cell Biology. 78 (5): 502–509. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1711.2000.t01-7-.x. PMID 11050533. S2CID 37150248. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  21. ^ Lowery, & Forsythe, Lonnie, & Cassandra (April 19, 2006). "Protein and Overtraining: Potential Applications for Free-Living Athletes". International Society of Sports Nutrition. 3 (1): 42–50. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-3-1-42. PMC 2129153. PMID 18500962.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Smith, Lucille (November 1999). "Cytokine hypothesis of overtraining: a physiological adaptation to excessive stress?". Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 32 (2): 317–31. doi:10.1097/00005768-200002000-00011. PMID 10694113. S2CID 22001535.
  23. ^ a b c d "Overtraining". Hospital for Special Surgery. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  24. ^ Veljkovic, M.; Dopsaj, V.; Stringer, W. W.; Sakarellos-Daitsiotis, M.; Zevgiti, S.; Veljkovic, V.; Glisic, S.; Dopsaj, M. (15 June 2009). "Aerobic exercise training as a potential source of natural antibodies protective against human immunodeficiency virus-1: Aerobic exercise against HIV-1". Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 20 (3): 469–474. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.00962.x. PMID 19538533. S2CID 25079796.
  25. ^ "Overtraining Syndrome". Rice University. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  26. ^ a b Hemmings, Brian; Smith, Marcus; Graydon, Jan; Dyson, Rosemary (28 October 1999). "Effects of massage on physiological restoration, perceived recovery, and repeated sports performance". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 34 (2): 109–114. doi:10.1136/bjsm.34.2.109. PMC 1724183. PMID 10786866.
  27. ^ a b "Overtraining Recovery Tips". Health Guidance. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  28. ^ a b Sauret, John M.; Marinides, George; Wang, Gordon K. (2002). "Rhabdomyolysis". American Family Physician. 65 (5): 907–912. PMID 11898964.
  29. ^ Hak, Paul Taro; Hodzovic, Emil; Hickey, Ben (2013). "The nature and prevalence of injury during CrossFit training". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000000318. PMID 24276294. S2CID 43006518.
  30. ^ Dupont Grégory; et al. (2004). "Passive versus active recovery during high-intensity intermittent exercises". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 36 (2): 302–308. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000113477.11431.59. PMID 14767255.