News & Notes

Over-Exercise and Over-Training: How Much is Too Much?
April 2013

Hey Xtremers!

Many of us are interested in becoming healthier in body and mind. Why else would we come to a personal fitness gym? Sadly enough, we usually want our results immediately and find it hard to commit to the long process of our body and mind overhaul. Since good results do not come with the snap of our fingers, we try to take shortcuts to get the results we want, as soon as possible.

How can we do this? We can over-exercise and over-train. We can try dieting fads and starvation techniques. We think we can force the immediate change we want to see by abusing our bodies and pushing them past safe limits. Unfortunately, this costs us in the long run to get healthy, so let’s cover the basics to keep it from happening to you!

First of all, what is Over-Exercise or Over-Training?

Overtraining syndrome is a state of exhaustion in which individuals will continue to exercise while their performance and health diminish. It is caused by a prolonged period of energy output that depletes energy stores without sufficient replenishment.

Who can Over-Exercise?

Just about anyone can succumb to the problem of over-exercise. Think about your activity level and the way you are thinking about your health and exercise habits. Why Do We Over-Exercise ... What’s on Your Mind? First of all, many of us come to Xtreme because we want to lose weight and tone our bodies. We want to be strong and healthy. We want to do it right. But….I’ve already said many of us have unrealistic expectations. We may come to the gym thinking, we want our results NOW! Everywhere we look, we see what society expects as the ideal body, for both men and women. We want to fit in, its human nature!

But ... change isn’t easy nor does it come quick! And ... we are all not built the same!

For example:

Okay, you’ve started exercising and getting fit. Now, you start to see changes in your body and you like what you see! You may think if I just work out more or harder I can see results faster! You may start thinking that you have to work out, you just have to!

So, is it possible that you may be prone to over-exercise because of what you think? What do you think of when you don’t exercise?

These examples may help you identify some thinking that may lead to you to bad exercise habits:

  • I either run an hour or it's not worth it to run at all.
  • If I don't work out today, I'll gain weight.
  • I feel great when I exercise, so if I exercise I'll never be depressed.
  • People are looking at me because I'm out of shape.
  • People who exercise get better jobs, relationships, and so on.
  • I can't stand not exercising every day, it's driving me crazy.
  • I don't care about the consequences, I have to work out or I'll turn into a fat blob, hate myself, and fall apart.
  • I can't even stand being in my own skin, I hate myself and everyone else.

How Can I Tell? Am I Over-Exercising?

A main way to tell if you are over-exercising is to do a check list.
Do you:

  • Choose to exercise instead of going to work or enjoying social activities with friends or loved ones?
  • Refuse to take any rest or recovery days, even when injured?
  • Continue to exercise even when ill?
  • Exercise to the point of exhaustion?
  • Never exercise for fun anymore?

Are you:

  • Experiencing severe stress and emotional upset, including depression, if unable to exercise?
  • Obsessed about the calories you eat and the calories you burn?
  • Preoccupied with burning calories throughout the day, even when you’re not exercising?

What Can Physically Happen to Your Body if You Over-Exercise?

The body gives our brain feedback on how it feels. It’s the way we were designed! When it sends messages of pain, illness or fatigue to the brain, it is usually an indication to stop or cut back on our activity until we heal, just like the check engine light on your car!

If we keep up our activity, we can really hurt ourselves! Think about it! Do you push your car to the limit all the time? What would happen if you did?

Over-exercise can lead to serious physical damage! Here are some signs you should cut back:

  • Fat gain! (a major issue for those that think over-training will make them lose it!)
  • Fatigue and/or reduction in physical and mental performance
  • Loss of emotions or increased mood swings
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Increased catabolic (cortisol-the stress hormone) response (leads to muscle wasting)
  • Dehydration and/or lack of appetite
  • Injuries such as shin splints, strains and sprains, cartilage damage, and stress fractures
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Inability to rest/sleep
  • Weakened immune system

So How to Prevent Becoming an Over-Exerciser?

Here are some tips to get you started ...

  1. Get help from a professional trainer. This is why we go to Xtreme, right? They’ll be able to recommend a good routine and also check to see that you don’t over exert yourself. Personal trainers are there to help you and make sure you do the exercise right. Explain your concerns and make sure to talk to your trainers about your goals.
  2. If you exercise to relieve anxiety or to feel in control, then use other methods to combat anxiety. Try varying your workout with high and low intensity classes. If have done high intensity the day before, don’t push your body the next day. Give yourself a rest/recuperation period. Make sure you stretch your muscles!
  3. Make your exercise a group thing! Positive feedback from other members of the gym may encourage your routine! Xtremers! Do your part to help others with encouragement and praise! Try to identify any of your limiting or negative beliefs regarding your body and its appearance. Replace them with more positive beliefs.
  4. A good night rest does wonders! Get a good night’s sleep, every night, and establish a bedtime and wake time. Routine in sleep will help your brain to repair your body! The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least 7-9 hours for adults. Huh! Many of us are sleep deprived! Go figure!
  5. Good nutrition is the key! About 80% of your body change will happen with diet, the other 20% comes from exercise. Know your caloric needs and the daily percentages of your diet that contain protein, carbohydrates and fats. Make sure you are getting a balanced diet; check this interactive link out to see if you are getting the daily recommended intake of nutrients!
    Remember, talk to your physician or health specialist if you have special needs!

Help! What if I Am Over-Exercising Now?

The basics –
A good way to get back to moderate amounts of exercise is to begin by toning down your exercise program if you feel you’ve been over-exercising. Start with mild forms of physical activity such as walking, until you get your weight back to normal. Slowly increase the amount of exercise until you are exercising every alternate day for about an hour each time. It’s best if you have a trainer to help you out in this effort until you are able to regain your sense of what normal levels of exercise feel like. If you need to, confront your fears about not exercising. Get the help of a counselor or even a friend if you feel obsessively compelled to exercise.

Stay happy, healthy and fit! Give your life a lift!


- Xtreme Homebody Fitness Team


Costin, Carolyn. "Is there such a thing as too much exercise?" ABIDE., n.d. Web. 1 March 2013.
"How Much Sleep Do I Need?" CDC-Center for Disease Control and Prevention., 9 May 2012. Web. 1 March 2013.
"Over-Exercising." Washington and Lee University Health Library, n.d. Web. 1 March 2013.
"The Dangers Of Over-Exercising & 4 Strategies To Combat It." FitWatch., n.d. Web. 1 March 2013.
Mercola, Joseph. "7 Signs You’re Exercising Too Much." Mercola., 28 December 2012. Web. 1 March 2013.
"Interactive DRI for Healthcare Professionals." United States Department of Agriculture: Food and Nutrition Information Center. n.d. Web. 1 March 2013.

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