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8 Signs You Are Overtraining Without Knowing It

Discover how to combat overtraining and keep making gains in the gym.

These are 8 signs you are overtraining without knowing it.

Overtraining is a real phenomenon with negative consequences. Numerous individuals have experienced overtraining firsthand, manifesting in various ways. It is crucial to strike the right balance between pushing oneself to achieve workout results and avoiding undertraining, which can be equally detrimental.


The sweet spot for optimal outcomes lies between undertraining and overtraining. Crossing the line into overtraining can lead to counterproductive efforts, overuse injuries, hormonal imbalances, and undesirable changes in body composition and performance.

Max Posternak is the founder of Gravity Transformation, a website focused on giving tips and training guidance for people looking to improve their fitness and lose weight. His YouTube channel has over 4 million subscribers.

He came up with the list you are about to see of 8 sings you are overtraining without knowing it. Check it out.

Source: Victor Freitas on Unsplash

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8 Signs You Are Overtraining Without Knowing It

Overtraining results from a combination of excessive physical, psychological, and environmental stress on the body. Understanding the signs and symptoms of overtraining is essential to avoid its detrimental effects. The following section outlines eight signs that individuals should watch out for to ensure they are not overtraining, and subsequently, eight preventive strategies will be provided to steer clear of overtraining.

A primary sign of overtraining is a decline in performance levels. While having an occasional off day is normal, consistent struggles with completing intense workouts, losing strength, endurance, or repeatedly failing to finish workouts may indicate overtraining. Physical signs such as decreased grip strength, increased perceived weight on joints and bones, reduced stability, and diminished explosiveness could further confirm this condition.

Experiencing prolonged soreness that differs from typical delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) might also signal overtraining. While DOMS is normal and often caused by unfamiliar exercises or changes in training styles or volume, persistent and intensified soreness lasting several days may be indicative of overtraining.

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A sudden loss of motivation to train, despite typically looking forward to workouts, could point to overtraining. While the effects of overtraining are primarily physical, the accumulation of physical, psychological, emotional, and environmental stress can lead to reduced motivation to exercise, and in some cases, even depression.

Frequent illnesses, despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise, balanced nutrition, sufficient sleep, and moderate alcohol consumption, may indicate overtraining. When combined with other symptoms, frequent sickness can be a significant red flag for overtraining.

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Flat-looking muscles, muscle loss, and bloated appearance due to water retention might be linked to overtraining. Adequate rest and recovery are essential for muscle repair and growth. Overtraining disrupts this process, leading to increased muscle breakdown, diminished muscle growth, and potential injuries.

Excessive stress on the sympathetic nervous system due to overtraining can result in general fatigue, sluggishness, and irritability throughout the day. Elevated cortisol levels and reduced testosterone due to prolonged stress can contribute to these symptoms.

Insomnia and restlessness are potential consequences of overtraining. Pushing the body too hard can overstimulate the nervous system, leading to difficulties in falling asleep and maintaining quality sleep, thereby impeding recovery and increasing fatigue.

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To prevent overtraining, individuals can adopt several effective strategies. Ensuring proper nutrition with the right balance of micro and macronutrients based on activity levels is crucial. A well-balanced diet rich in various healthy sources of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruits, and vegetables supports muscle recovery and overall well-being.

Adequate sleep is vital for body repair and recovery. Individuals should strive to get between 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night to enhance their physical and mental health.

Avoiding excessive workout intensity, frequency, and volume is crucial to preventing overtraining. Balancing exercise with proper rest is essential for avoiding physical and mental exhaustion.

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Managing stress is an important aspect of preventing overtraining. External stressors from work, relationships, or other sources can exacerbate the effects of physical stress from workouts. Incorporating stress-reducing activities such as meditation and yoga can help manage overall stress levels.

Lastly, incorporating deload weeks or taking periodic breaks from intense workouts can prevent overtraining. A deload week involves reducing training intensity or volume, providing the body with a chance to recover adequately.

By being vigilant about recognizing the signs of overtraining and implementing preventive measures, individuals can optimize their workouts and safeguard their overall well-being.

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In a nutshell, the 8 signs you are overtraining without knowing it are:

  1. Decrease in your performance level
  2. Feeling sore long time after workout
  3. Sudden loss of motivation to train
  4. Constantly getting sick
  5. Flat-looking muscles
  6. Chronic or nagging injuries
  7. General fatigue / sluggishness
  8. Insomnia and restlessness

And the 5 prevention tactics from Posternak are:

  1. Eat properly
  2. Get enough sleep
  3. Don’t go overboard with your workouts
  4. Lower your stress levels
  5. Incorporate a deload week or take a week off entirely

For a full explanation in video format, see Posternak’s arguments below.

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Junk Volume Weight Training

Within the bodybuilding community, junk volume training refers to any exercises that consume time and energy but do not contribute to muscle or strength gain, as explained by Nippard.

To put it simply, junk volume training means engaging in exercises that won’t help you achieve your goals.

A typical workout routine might involve three sets of 8-10 reps for a specific exercise. However, doing 10 sets of the same exercise will eventually become wasteful, as it won’t lead to additional muscle growth.

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To avoid falling into the trap of junk volume training and to promote muscle growth effectively, it is advisable to keep the number of sets per muscle group per training session between 6 to 8.

This isn’t a strict rule to follow blindly, but rather a guideline that applies to most individuals. It’s also essential to consider factors such as training to failure and the specific muscle groups being targeted.

Read more about Junk Volume Weight Training and how to avoid it.

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