I had a request this week to tackle this subject. And it made me think: How have I not considered this post before? What a crucially important topic. What you DON'T do can sometimes be just as important as what you do, in athletics. What I mean is, rest and recovery are as crucial a step as what you actively do for your workouts / training. We already know that I am not a fan of extremes. I believe in steady progression, sustainability, and ultimately a long life for your physicality and fitness level. This only comes from balance. When you go too hard, too fast, too frequently, you can start working in the wrong direction. Not only do you not attain the results you are after, whether they are athletic conditioning for professional sport, or simply fine-tuning your fitness and physique, but you can expect to see some of these symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome:

Lacking enthusiasm for activity Pain in the muscles and joints Irritability Depression Exhaustion and lethary Decreased immunity (higher frequency of colds, flu…) Insomnia More injuries Decreased appetite Headaches Decreased strength and athletic ability An addictive attitude toward training

I think that a lot of people who work in my industry have experience the symptoms of overtraining. I certainly have, and the way that I know, at this point, is when my muscles and joints feel wound in so tightly that I have lost my desire to exercise. This list of symptoms is your body's only way of telling you to ease off. In some cases, you may need to alter your entire training program, and in milder cases sometimes all it takes is a few days or a week off.

To avoid overtraining, I recommend the following:

First of all, if you feel that you have an unhealthy relationship with your body, speak with a professional. If your "professional", your trainer, is pushing you too hard, consult someone who also refers to his/herself as a wellness expert. When dealing with the body, one must understand holistic health and balance. Even when training for extreme sports!

Listen to your body. Maybe you don't know what this means - it can take practice. Start to reflect on how you are feeling during your workouts, and also how you are feeling when you're not working out. You will open up the lines of communication, so to speak, have a better relationship with your physicality, and be better able to understand its unique signs of being overworks.

Never surpass an hour, while working out. I used to overtrain, in high school. I would bike to the gym at 6am, train for 1.5 hrs, bike to school, bike to work at a health club, do the circuit workout, bike to yoga, and bike home. It was kind of insane. If it sounds healthy, know that it wasn't. Working out is still a large part of my life, but it doesn't eat up ALL of my life. Throwing all of your energy into only one thing is not healthy, no matter what it is. Your workout can be perfectly efficient anywhere between 20-60 minutes.

Always take at least one day off per week. 7 days of workouts is too much, and doesn't push you forward in terms of progress. You need one full day of rest. Can you go for a walk? Yes. A leisurely bike ride? A swim with the kids? Sure. But should you sweat your butt off trying to change your body on day 7? Abso-effing-lutely not. Rest means coming back at it better, on day 8 (or 1). :)

I also personally take two full weeks off per year. Usually at separate times. You'd be amazed how this can re-motivate you, re-energize you, and even give you a boost of power and strength when you come back at it.

If you have any questions about overtraining, please don't hesitate to ask. I can listen to your program, and tell you specifically what may or may not be best for your advancement and sustainability.

*image found at nickgranthem.com