Symptoms (signs) of overtraining

Every athlete should remember the following signs of overtraining::

  • Lack of training progress or regression
  • Decline of strength
  • Rapid fatigue
  • Depression
  • Loss of motivation
  • Irritability
  • Tachycardia
  • Reduced appetite
  • Persistent muscle pain
  • Lymphocytopenia
  • Weakened immune system (symptoms of infectious diseases)
  • No pumping during your workout

Remember that often athletes do not experience any of the above signs of overtraining, although there is one (the so-called asymptomatic overtraining), while the athlete is in a state of training plateau, results do not increase or worsen. If you experience signs of overtraining, you should immediately take urgent measures to prevent this condition. You should be skeptical about these symptoms, as signs of overtraining can easily be confused with a large number of other pathological conditions, so only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis.

Definition of overtraining

Here are a few strategies that can help you determine if an athlete is going into a state of overtraining.

Heart rate marker

The coach or athlete should monitor their morning heart rate daily to determine if the athlete is working at the appropriate level of activity. It is best to monitor your heart rate in the morning, since the athlete comes to training rested and is not yet affected by the day’s stress. An elevated heart rate at rest for two to three days can be a sign of overexertion. In this case, the trainer should reduce the intensity of the training program (if possible, schedule “aerobic compensation” sessions) and carefully monitor your heart rate over the next 24-48 hours.

Maintaining a training log

This simple technique often causes a lot of complaints from athletes. For them, it is usually not difficult to record the load received or the time of training, but athletes avoid recording the level of intensity of loads during a training session or the level of fatigue. Athletes train and sacrifice everything to become the best, and therefore it is not in their rules to recognize the excessive intensity of the training session. Therefore, the coach should keep a close eye on the athlete and take the time to convey to them the importance of working within their own physical capabilities. The coach may need to keep a special journal that describes the physiological impact of training on the athlete. The journal should indicate how the athlete feels immediately after training, a few hours after it, and the next morning.

Перетренированность: признаки, симптомы, как лечить и избежать

Using the Heart Rate Variability Monitor

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a physiological phenomenon in which there is a change in the time interval between heartbeats (also known as the cardiointerval). This time interval changes in response to factors such as fatigue, relaxation, emotional states, thoughts, and, of course, tension during exercise. The heart rate responds quickly to these factors for optimal adaptation of body functions to the environment.

These changes occur independently of the control function of the central nervous system. In fact, these changes are related to the autonomic nervous system and, in particular, to the interaction between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic nervous system is an activation system and produces a number of effects, such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, narrowing of peripheral vessels, dilated bronchi, dilated pupils, increased sweating, release of energy sources into the bloodstream, poor digestion and loss of appetite, that is, causes a fight-or-flight reaction. Chemical carriers of these reactions are norepinephrine, epinephrine, corticotropin, and some corticosteroids.

In contrast, if the parasympathetic system prevails, then the heart rate becomes more even, blood pressure decreases, breathing slows down and becomes deeper, muscles relax, pupils narrow, appetite and digestion improve. This system operates through the chemical carrier of acetylcholine. The dominance of this system is the body’s response to peace, rest, calmness, absence of danger and stress.

The state of the human body at a certain moment is determined by the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems (neurovegetative balance). An important factor is the ability of the human body to change its own balance in favor of a particular system. From a practical point of view, this means that if a high-load training session is planned for the upcoming day, then after a night’s rest, it is necessary that the body is in a rested state (the predominance of the parasympathetic system). On the other hand, increased sympathetic tone during rest increases oxygen consumption in the production of ATP, which is necessary for recovery, and this is associated with a reduced level of the neurosteroid adehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. In this case, it is recommended to plan a training session with a smaller amount of loads.

Aerobic compensation sessions have been shown to accelerate recovery by reducing the tone of the sympathetic system. A few days of hypertonia of the sympathetic system is a sign of overexertion, which can lead to overtraining if appropriate measures are not taken to reduce the load.

We are very lucky that it is now possible to use heart rate variability monitors (for example, BioForce, Omegawave) to assess the body’s response to training and prevent overtraining. These devices can be useful in the following cases:: to confirm the dynamics of internal load (residual fatigue) planned during a microcycle or macrocycle; to better know the body’s response to the training methods used; to help individualize the volume, intensity, and frequency of each athlete’s training program and, accordingly, to optimize the training program of each athlete; to help determine and calculate the impact of stress factors operating outside the training environment (for example, work, school, family, and lifestyle).