May cause calisthenics rhabdomyolysis

How to Detect and Treat Overtraining

Recognize and treat overtraining. In professional sport, the experts see the greatest reserves in the area of ​​regeneration and recovery. This is an area that is usually completely neglected in leisure and popular sports. This often leads to overtraining. From Dr. Till Sukopp


  • How does overtraining arise?
  • Overtraining symptoms
  • Quick test for overtraining
  • Measures for overtraining
  • Expert interview with Dr. Lutz Herdener

Overtraining: regeneration and recovery in sports

After eight, nine, ten or more hours, many people still go to the sport and work out to the full. Regeneration or recovery are then often not planned at all. But this is a widespread mistake, especially among hobby and recreational runners between the ages of 16 and 30. In short, this is neither healthy nor does it give you the best possible training results.

How does overtraining arise?

At this point I would like to briefly look at what training actually means. Ultimately, training is a consciously triggered stress in the body, which leads to the existing structures being stressed (and also a little destroyed) in order to subsequently rebuild itself to a higher level.

The regeneration ultimately describes the process of rebuilding. Therefore, regeneration is an essential part of any training plan! And you can specifically support this process with various measures.

To do this, however, you first have to recognize for yourself whether, when and how you need to recover from the respective training units. If you don't listen to your body, you run the risk of overloading it and suffering negative physical and / or psychological implications.

More on the topic: regeneration

Overtraining Symptoms:

In the following, I will introduce you to various symptoms of overtraining, which have been described by both US coach Steve Maxwell and numerous athletes from the former GDR.

15 typical signs of overtraining

  1. Palpitations or increased heart rate: Measure your heart rate when you wake up. If this is four or more beats higher than usual, you have either recovered poorly or an infection is imminent. How to find your resting heart rate: For a week, take your pulse for a minute right after you wake up. Make a note of the values ​​and take the mean after a week. If you go to the toilet immediately after waking up, lie down for five minutes and then start taking measurements.
  2. You have generally sore or painful muscles
  3. Painful joints
  4. Your legs feel "heavy"
  5. Permanent fatigue
  6. You are easily irritable and stressed
  7. You are moody or somewhat depressed
  8. Your appetite changes. Either you eat more or you hardly eat - a "stressed hormonal system" (too much cortisol) can cause both.
  9. You suddenly gain weight
  10. Frequent cold symptoms and easily susceptible to infections
  11. You have acute illnesses
  12. Your sexual pleasure or desire will decrease
  13. They no longer make any progress in training or their performance even declines
  14. Problems falling asleep
  15. You have been sleeping too much recently or have been sleeping for a very long time

Quick test for overtraining

I can also recommend a simple quick test: start exercising once, even if you don't feel like exercising that day. If you still don't feel better after ten minutes, stop exercising and start using the regeneration measures below.

Measures against the symptoms of overtraining

  • If you experience three or more of the symptoms described, you should definitely sleep more and ideally avoid training for three days!

How long does regeneration after overtraining?

  • If you can observe six or more of the symptoms described, a break from training of at least ten days is recommended. At best, you can carry out light regenerative activities such as walks. You should also make sure you get enough sleep! The bottom line is that experience shows that ten days off training can make a huge difference.

Hardly any loss of performance with a 10-day break

Many athletes will now fear that they will lose muscle mass and other hard-earned effects, but ultimately, the opposite is true! Because if you are in an overtraining state, then exactly the opposite will occur and you will be even more productive after ten days.

There are studies for this that were carried out on Olympic athletes at Olympic level. Even after a month's break, only a 1% loss of strength could be determined. Even after two months it was only 3%.

- If you observe an increased resting heart rate of 4 beats or more, do not exercise on that day. If the frequency is 1-2 beats / min higher, you only exercise moderately. With 2-3 strokes more, at most a light training should be performed.


In short: If you feel permanently tired and notice a lower resilience or even a drop in performance, you should definitely think about an extended regeneration phase, as overload is obvious. Always exclude organic causes or infections first.

Also read: 8 tips for effective regeneration

Overtraining! Triggers muscle loss and listlessness. © lzf |

Interview with Dr. Lutz Herdener on the subject of overtraining

What is overtraining?

“Overtraining is a common phenomenon. But despite various and long-term research approaches, the overtraining symptoms are not always clearly recognizable. As a result, trainers have to approach the problem with great sensitivity. "

What types of overtraining need to be differentiated?

“In advance, it is important to distinguish between two terms. Overreaching and overtraining are often closely related in practice, but must be differentiated from one another in the literature. Overreaching is the systematic accumulation of training stimuli with the resulting disproportionate supercompensation, as is the case, for example, with classic (weekly) shock training. There you consciously set several training stimuli one after the other without granting the athlete a corresponding complete regeneration phase.

Overtraining, on the other hand, describes a state in which there is no supercompensation and the athlete does not or only very slowly regains his or her original level of performance. "

Can training monotony be a trigger for overtraining?

“What is important here is the awareness that the effects and causes can have various reasons and should be assessed and addressed accordingly. In addition to the ongoing decline in performance, it is above all listlessness in everyday life and low motivation that show that this is not an isolated problem, but that the problem is based on systemic exhaustion of the athlete. It is often not enough to reduce the scope and intensity of the training. According to the two descriptions, one recognizes the tightrope walk and the necessary instinct for a trainer to adequately set training stimuli from both a physiological and a psychological point of view.

With regard to the development, there are different and certainly parallel processes. Similar to the symptoms, the initial triggers can also be different. In addition to psychological overload, which can be compared with a manager's burnout syndrome, the literature mentions different aspects from a physiological-neural point of view. The training monotony seems to play a decisive role. Studies show that with the same amount of training and with the same training intensity, overtraining states occur more frequently if the individual training units are the same. As a result, this shows, not only for reasons of optimal performance progress, the necessity of a meaningful training variation. "

What are signs of exhaustion?

“In addition to the training monotony, overtraining states are often related to glycogen depletion in the body. As a consequence, this means that, especially in connection with targeted carbo-loading, as is often practiced in the context of tapering processes in endurance sports, the trainer must consciously pay attention to signs of systemic exhaustion. From a biochemical point of view, this also explains the breakdown of muscle mass and a lack of drive caused by the increased release of serotonin. "

How do you recognize overtraining symptoms?

Overtraining symptoms can be defined in three areas!

1. Overtraining Symptoms: Physiological aspects

  • decreased efficiency
  • extended recovery
  • abnormal blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Loss of appetite
  • reduced mineral content of the bones
  • Decrease in serum iron
  • fatigue

2. Overtraining Symptoms: Immunological Findings

  • increased susceptibility to infection
  • decreased lymphocyte count
  • Infectious tendency

3. Overtraining Symptoms: Psychological changes

  • depressive moods
  • general apathy
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Lack of concentration
  • Sensitivity to external stimuli such as noise or light

Overtraining: What To Do?

Reduce training volume and intensity

“Structural damage can also occur due to the reduced mineral content. The shift in the testosterone-cortisol quotient also indicates a tendency towards catabolic processes in the body, whereby when developing an overtraining state, from a chronological point of view, it is essential to distinguish between an initially sympathetic and the subsequent parasympathetic appearance. This is also the reason why the manifestations do not necessarily have to show up, as shown above, but must be assessed depending on the phase reached.

If, depending on the circumstances, an overtraining condition or a corresponding tendency is recognized, the amount of training and the intensity should definitely be reduced from a sports science perspective. In addition, the athlete should be given appropriate compensation options for training, especially with a view to the psychological components. Because changes in the private environment or the workplace often promote overtraining. The task of the trainer is therefore varied when it comes to bringing the athlete back to training and his or her original performance in the long term and in a sustainable manner. "

By and with Dr. Lutz Herdener

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