9 Signs You’re Probably Working Out Too Much
The point of exercise is to get healthy, not to get hurt. Watch out for these important cues that you could be overdoing it.
Are you exercising too much?
Too much of a good thing can do more harm than good—including exercise. Although regular movement helps keep your mind and body in shape, if you overdo it, you might deal with the following issues. Here are the signs you’re working out too much.
Your performance is down
It can be hard to tell how much exercise is too much, but one of the major signs is a decrease in performance, whether you’re running more slowly, finding your usual weights harder to lift, or you have less stamina in general than normal. Without adequate time for your body to recover, hormone levels change, which can cause a breakdown of muscle. “This can lead to deterioration of muscle function, declines in physical performance, and even increased risk of injuries,” says personal trainer Jessica Matthews.
You’re always exhausted
“Workouts can make you temporarily tired, but as a rule, your training should actually give you more energy throughout the day,” says personal trainer Franklin Antoian. If you’re starting to feel more fatigued or sluggish than energized, you might want to cut back the amount of time you’re exercising.
You have extreme muscle soreness
Soreness that lasts for days is an indicator that it’s time to take it easy. “While some muscle soreness post-exercise can be normal, experiencing extreme muscle soreness (for example, to the point where you are unable to straighten your arms), can be a sign of overtraining,” says Matthews.
You’re getting injured
Those aching knees, hinky shoulder, and pain in your lower back are sending you a clear message: Doing the same workout too frequently can lead to overuse injury, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. You’re likely pushing your body too hard and/or not giving it enough time to recover, which can strain the muscles and joints. Mix up your workouts to avoid stressing the same body parts every day. Don’t see rest days as being lazy, but as giving your body the chance to replenish and rebuild itself. (Check out these 8 tips for workout recovery that can alleviate muscle soreness.)
Your immune system is down
Feeling rundown and getting sniffles? A punishing workout regimen could be to blame. “If you find yourself feeling under the weather more often than usual, it could be a sign that you are working out too much,” says Mathews. “Although studies have shown that moderate exercise may be linked to positive changes in the immune system, there is also evidence that too much intense exercise can reduce immunity.”
You’re not sleeping well
“While regular exercise can help promote a restful night’s sleep, excessive exercise can have the opposite effect in terms of getting sufficient, quality shut-eye,” says Matthews. Too much exercise triggers a stress response in the body, raising levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. This can have an effect on your sleep-wake cycles, keeping you up at night or even impacting your quality of sleep.
You’re just not hungry
Loss of appetite is one of the major signs of overtraining, according to The American Council on Exercise. Exercise can make you feel less hungry because it lowers levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates your appetite, and increases levels of peptide YY, the hormone responsible for suppressing it.
You’re emotionally sensitive
If you’re not feeling quite like yourself—you have increased anxiety, decreased concentration, increased irritability, and lowered self-esteem—it’s time to re-evaluate your exercise regimen. “Although physical activity can and should be fun and enjoyable, over-exercising can lead to psychological burnout, causing a motivation problem and a dissatisfaction with exercise,” says Matthews. “In fact, changes in mood can be an early sign of overtraining, before many of the physical signs are present.”
Your pals are worried
“If your friends, family members, and co-workers are consistently telling you that you work out too much, they may be correct,” says Antoian. Working out shouldn’t get in the way of your relationships or your social life, and if you consistently skip quality time with people you care about to workout, it might be a time to step back and find the appropriate balance. Next, check out the positive things that happen to your body after one workout.
- Jessica Matthews, MS, personal trainer
- Franklin Antoian, personal trainer
- The American Council on Exercise: "Overtraining | 9 Signs of Overtraining to Look Out For"
- American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine: "Overuse Injury"