• Deanne Pandey

What you need to know about your Fitness Plateau

Hitting a fitness plateau or overtraining can be a true hurdle to your fitness regime. Overtraining is essentially when you start to see a decrease in exercise performance or health because you’re working out too much and not getting enough recovery. Training stresses the body and breaks down muscle. It’s actually in recovery that we grow stronger and become fitter as our body repairs and rebuilds our muscles. So if you break your body down and it starts to rebuild, but you train hard again right away, you never get to the point where you’re fully recovering and gaining strength.Over-trainers work out at a very high intensity, sometimes accompanied by a high volume that may include multiple exercise sessions in a single day. While high-intensity and high-volume training is not necessarily harmful, long periods of time spent training in this mode, especially in non-elite athletes, can lead to inadequate or incomplete recovery, which can not only be very dangerous and detrimental to the body, but can also work directly against weight loss or fitness goals. If overtrained for long enough, an individual can completely crash, become chronically ill and fatigued, and be forced into complete rest for up to 3 months. That is why, it is vital to know if you have reached a fitness plateau or if you have been overtraining, and then take measures to fix it.

If it feels like you’ve been putting in a ton of work, but you’ve stopped seeing any results, for an instance, you’re not able to lift any heavier or longer and your endurance and stamina isn’t improving, could be a sign of overtraining. Feeling super stressed, overwhelmed, moody, sad, depressed or anxious could be a symptom of overtraining. Since your body is essentially breaking down, your hormone balance and mental health can start to take a toll as well. Fatigue is another common side effect. The low energy comes from high levels of cortisol. Overtraining often compromises your immune system, making it more likely that you’ll get sick every time you encounter a virus. Check with your gym to see if you can monitor your body composition to see whether you’re losing fat or muscle. If it’s muscle mass, you’re probably overtraining and not giving yourself enough fuel to recover after workouts. The body does not grow stronger, fitter, or leaner while you are working out. Instead, rest and recovery outside of exercise allows for repair of damaged muscle fibers, restoration of glycogen stores, and restoration of hormone levels that are essential for normal bodily function. Proper balance of these components is essential to a healthy body, a high metabolism, decreased levels of fat storage. That is why it is important to keep an eye out for these signs of overtraining.

Once you recognise the signs and symptoms of overtraining, talk with your coach, athletic trainer and doctor. Working as a team, these sports medicine professionals can give you some guidelines for recovery. The First and Foremost step is rest. Start taking days off for recovery. It’s important to remember that we get our results from our recovery. Everyone should have one day completely off from exercise, other than maybe a light walk. Active rest is important to be incorporated in your routine. If you’re someone who doesn’t get much sleep or already has a lot of stress in your life, you need to focus even more on recovery from workouts. It is important to get sound sleep, as it reduces your cortisol levels and increases your productivity. If you recognise that you’re overtraining, take a few days off from working out, and focus on getting quality sleep and fuelling your body. After that, reexamine your fitness routine and plan to add in more recovery time or more frequent de-loading phases. Next aspect is Nutrition. Make sure your diet includes calories, protein, vitamins and minerals. Inadequate carbohydrate and protein intake can lead to decreased muscle glycogen stores, muscle fatigue and poor muscle repair. Work with a nutritionist to evaluate your food habits and make sure you’re getting enough of these important nutrients. Avoid nutrient deficiencies which can increase your susceptibility to infections.

Remember, it’s about quality and not quantity. Watch out for these signs to know if you are overtraining and take the required measures. Stay Safe! Take Care!

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