Signs of Overtraining

Too much exercise with too little rest leads to overtraining. It tends to occur gradually and not suddenly though. So many factors can play a role along with many signs to show for it.

It makes the most sense to define overtraining by the lack of progress. A healthy body should continue to make slight progress over time even as you advance despite diminishing returns. Many trainees choose to nitpick over the definition, trying to equate it with some precise, reduced state of physiology, instead of realizing the implication meaning a lack of progress.


If results are less than those expected, then such programs should be reduced – rather than increased – before any other type of alteration is undertaken; when less than optimum results are produced by any schedule of heavy exercise, then it is almost always due to overtraining rather than to undertraining.

 – Arthur Jones

  • The body loses its vitality.

Blood pressure and resting pulse rise. Poor sleep and a tendency to sweat may occur due to the stress. You may get headaches, colds, and blisters more easily. Soreness and tightness in the muscles linger for longer than usual after your workouts. The immune system may even create lymphocytes meant to fight off sickness.

  • Injuries are slower to recover.

The body is overburdened.

  • You are more likely to get sick.

Sickness may even always result as a culmination of overstress, similar to lacking sleep.

  • Bodyweight decreases.

This will occur in lean tissue and comes about from a combination of reasons. Your appetite goes down. Muscle burdens your body and wastes away without an incentive to keep it. A lack of stimulus from hard training will take away that incentive.

  • Motivation wanes.

The hormones that increase alertness decrease and your mind operates less soundly.

  • You fail to make progress.

This is the most telling sign as symptoms can vary and to their degree, and you may not feel all of them and the worst apply to the most severe cases.

Keep in mind that no soreness alone does not indicate a full recovery. You need to monitor your improvement foremost. Progress may proceed slowly but should always remain steady.

If you reach this stage, deload and take a week off. Look at and change your training during this layoff. Try to reduce the volume of exercise while still maintaining or increasing the intensity. Make sure you eat and sleep well enough too.

A Lack of Progress Defines Overtraining

Try to determine just how much exercise you need, do not try to find out how much you can stand.

– Arthur Jones

View exercise like a light switch. Once you turn it on, you have sent the signal to improve. It makes no sense to continue flicking the light switch. Persisting may even break the switch, or your body, and serves no purpose. Try to find the right amount of exercise to achieve your goals and then stop. Assess your progress honestly to avoid overtraining and you can ignore the signs entirely.

Never miss a useful bodybuilding insight.