Ok so you’re the type to lean towards overtraining: What’s a girl to do?
Keep reading for a few action steps you can start right away to prevent a hormonal and metabolic disaster.
Match your preferred activity with enough food
If you want to workout to look lean + strong, you have to eat enough to support muscle gain.
Many of you don’t have trouble getting active. It’s that you’ve been conditioned to think that eating less goes along with moving more. Or, you don’t know how to eat unless you’re dieting! Eating to support your highly active lifestyle likely means eating more than you are.
Theoretically, you can be as active as you want as long as you eat enough to support it aaaand rest and recover like a boss.
take full rest days
Muscles are broken in the gym, fed in the kitchen, and built in bed. As a general rule of thumb, I’d recommend 2 full rest days per week especially if you’re in a period where you’re really focused on gaining lean muscle and pushing yourself in training.
As long as you’re active, you’re not building up – you’re breaking down!
For sake of clarity, I’ll define a full rest day as anything from full sloth mode to simply moving around in your daily life, or NEAT. You can still aim for that 8-10K steps per day, if that feels good to you, but also consider restorative activity like slow flow yoga, rolling or stretching. Everything should be low impact and low intensity.
vary your activity through the week
Just because you have 8 hours per week to exercise, doesn’t mean you should be doing 8 hours of spin and bootcamp circuits.
Varying your training prevents stress on the body that result in overuse injuries – as well as keeps you a well rounded athlete. Ideally, you’re getting a mix of strength training, higher intensity cardio activity, lower intensity aerobic activity, and low impact restorative activity in your week because each provide different physical and mental health benefits.
The goal is for you to be active long term, as in, forever. Varying your activity throughout the week better guarantees that you’ll stay healthy and strong.
keep a training log
This technique might be best applied with strength training, but also endurance and cardio-based activity.
Tracking your weights, reps and sets week to week encourages you to progress over time, assess if you’re indeed getting stronger – or if things have plateaued. Having a log might also color in details for why you might be feeling unusually fatigued or sore.
If you prefer cardio activity it can still be beneficial to track things like pace, distance, total active time so you can not only push yourself to progressively overload over time as you get fitter, but see trends for overtraining more clearly.
follow your own plan, not that of your friend
If the program that your BFF or your partner is doing is written for them – it’s probably not best for you.
Just like you probably wouldn’t jump into heavy lifting alongside your buff friend without any barbell experience, it’s also not a good idea to catch an extra class after you’ve already completed your own workout.
Your training should include the activities you enjoy leveraged against your sex, age, fitness level, training age, bandwidth and capacity for work, etc. It should also match your specific goals for fitness, body composition and performance – as well as mental health.
This is why programs that are structured and customized to you are so important. So find your own plan and stick to it.
find activities outside of exercise to be social & connect with others
If working out is your way of meeting people and being social, you might be on the fast track to overtraining. It feels good to be active, but it feels even better to be active with other people we like!
Seek opportunities to connect outside of your regularly scheduled workout, such as:
- grabbing a meal together
- attending a movie or community event
- cooking or meal prepping
- going to the farmers market
- co-working at a coffee shop
- park playdates with kids
I get it, you love to be active. But don’t let that be an excuse to ignore the signs and signals your body is giving you that you to slow down. You’ll thank me someday!