The negative effects of overtraining

Summer is almost here, but that doesn't have to mean hitting the gym for 2 hours twice a day.

Monday - session 1 chest / session 2 chest and arms

Tuesday - chest and arms...

Psst!!! We have other body parts ;)

I’ve listed a few common effects of overtraining below. If you see yourself with one, or a few of, these problems, it could be the reason your progression isn’t as fast as you’d like it to be.

Training every day for several hours, and not refueling the body, will hinder your performance and results. This will lead to you becoming less motivated, and lower your self-esteem.

Overtraining becomes a see-saw effect. Yes, you can train twice a day if your training is structured correctly. If not, then it can end up decreasing your performance and results. I know on paper increasing your training should have beneficial effects, however your muscles need time to recover, repair and rebuild. Your body grows when resting, not training.

Overtraining can also affect your sleep pattern. If your training’s increased, but you’ve noticed that you’re not getting good, regular sleep, this is a sign of overtraining and not re-fuelling properly. You may find that your body is tired but your mind is still awake, and when you hit the pillow you lay staring at the ceiling, counting all the protein and sheep, and stressing because you can't get to sleep, your body's aching and you feel hungry. These signals mean that it’s time to give your body a rest.

Overtraining can also lead to obsession, and being unhappy about the speed of results. Again, as I've mentioned before, it's not about the more you train the better you look. Instead, set yourself mini targets, and make sure that they’re realistic and achievable.

Everyone who hears the word ‘exercise’ automatically associates it with health - they do go hand-in-hand, and that should always be the outcome. Exercise has a positive impact on your health and wellbeing, however overtraining can also have a negative effect on your immune system, increasing your chances of becoming unwell. Not only can overtraining make you ill, but it can also lead to injuries. If you have an old injury and you carry on training that area of the body, chances are you’ll re-aggravate the injury, and be in more pain than you were to begin with.

The only time I’d suggest training twice-a-day would be if you split your training, and I’d recommend that you don’t train the same body part within a 72 hour period. I’d also advise including a rest day on the 3rd or 4th day.

The beginning of your week might look something like this:

Monday AM: Steady state cardio

Monday PM: Strength (push day)

Tuesday AM: Intervals

Tuesday PM: Strength training (pull day)

Wednesday: Rest day


Find a routine that suits you, and make sure not to overdo it, or you could see all your hard work becoming undone.

Ben Pryor, personal trainer and Nourish co-founder.