7 Clear Symptoms Of Overtraining: Why too much training makes you fat


Can you spot the overtraining symptoms? Overtraining is a chronic physical state of overload in which your performance level deteriorates, and your body cannot easily recover. Overtraining is caused by training that is too long and too intensive and regeneration times that are too short. 


I didn’t see the signs when I first entered overtraining years ago.


The matter might have backfired if I hadn’t received a crucial tip from my running coach at the time.


Where is the limit, and how much training is too much?


 How can you recognize overtraining?


The topic of overtraining will accompany us in a short series of two articles.


In part 2 I continue with the following topics:


  • How to avoid overtraining.
  • 5 ultimate prevention measures against overtraining.
  • The cart is already stuck? Four ad hoc measures with which you can avert a month-long regeneration break and start training again days later.


While no magic lamp glows bright red when you’ve crossed the mysterious threshold called “overtraining.”


But I can help you interpret your body’s signals correctly when you reach your limit or maybe even exceed it.


If you don’t know how to recognize overtraining and keep training with an iron will, it can take weeks to months before you are fully resilient again.


If you know the symptoms of overtraining, you can react in time. And if you react in time, you will start training again with fun and new power within days.


What is overtraining

What is overtraining?

If I had to put the feeling of overtraining into words, I would describe it like this.


Overtraining – it’s like being run over by a truck.


Jack Daniels is one of the most internationally renowned running coaches and the author of The Running Formula


He was once asked to write a scientific article on overtraining. 


His answer:


“This is going to be the easiest article ever. It’s two words long: AVOID IT!


You get into overtraining when you train your body so long and intensively that it can no longer easily recover from it.


At first glance, that sounds pretty simple. 


But it is not. 


Once you get into overtraining, it can take your body days, weeks, or even months to recover fully.


“Avoid it” is a good idea.


A few years ago, I got into overtraining for the first time. It’s the hot phase – 4 weeks before the Marathon. 


I’ve been running almost 100 km a week for months, and I’m on track – always feeling at the limit. 


To save time in the gym, I switch my previous volume-oriented strength training to the efficient but hard HIIT training.


I’m amazed at how quickly I’m through with the muscle training. But the unusually intense strain is too much for me next to the marathon training. 


First, I feel the fun of running dwindling – for the first time in my life, and I’m not enjoying it anymore. 


The training feels like “work.”


I ignore the supposed “bastard” and continue to train, albeit with permanently clenched teeth. 


My training is no longer a source of strength. It is becoming a compulsory event. With alas, I can continue to meet my training goals.


A week later, I’m flat out driving into an invisible concrete wall. My mileage times are falling like a rotten bridge. Now there is also a lack of energy in everyday life. 


Even simple things, like carrying groceries to the second floor, take tremendous willpower.


I don’t realize that I’ve already crossed the line.

Overtraining is like a short circuit

Overtraining is like a short circuit in your central nervous system.

You can think of your body as a generator that provides energy for your actions. Each of these activities draws a larger or smaller fraction of the energy that the power source can supply.


What happens when you connect a 54-inch plasma TV, sound system, blender, electric stove, microwave, sauna, electric car, and treadmill to the same power source?


There is a short circuit.


And your body reacts in a very similar way.


The power source represents your central nervous system (CNS): Your brain controls your muscles by sending nerve impulses to your muscles via the spinal cord. 


If you constantly overload yourself, these nerve impulses can weaken and no longer adequately fulfill their task. Many overtraining symptoms arise this way.


how overtraining can happen

This is how overtraining can happen.

Here are some of the possible causes:


  • You are increasing the volume of your training too quickly.
  • You are increasing the intensity of your training too quickly.
  • You are increasing the frequency of your training too quickly.
  • You take too little time for regeneration.
  • You are stressed in other areas of your life.


It also plays a role.


  • how long you have been training ( training experience).
  • how you are predisposed ( genetics).


Each person carries out even a precisely specified training plan in a slightly different way. 


Whether you’re an endurance athlete, strength athlete, or weekend competitor, each exercise can develop different overtraining symptoms.


Good if you’ve learned to recognize overtraining.


Clear Overtraining Symptoms

Recognizing Overtraining: 7 Clear Overtraining Symptoms

Some indicators of overtraining include ((Lehmann MJ, Lormes W, Opitz-gress A, et al. Training and overtraining: an overview and experimental results in endurance sports. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1997;37(1):7-17)) :


  • Listlessness,
  • unusually severe muscle soreness,
  • lack of progress,
  • restlessness and lack of concentration,
  • leaden tiredness,
  • joint and limb pain,
  • susceptibility to infection,
  • Fatigue,
  • drop in performance,
  • frequent injuries,
  • increased blood pressure,
  • Weakness,
  • low stamina,
  • low pulse,
  • allergic reaction,
  • altered menstrual cycles in women
  • and many more.


Some of these overtraining symptoms are easier to spot than others. Here are the 7 most obvious signs of overtraining:



#1 Overtraining Symptoms: Listlessness

Don’t feel like exercising or moving at all? Your body is trying to tell you something: It needs rest and relaxation because you are doing too much.


Of course, we all know them – the days when we wouldn’t feel like training. 


We push ourselves, go to training, and everything is fine.


But if one turns into several days and weeks where you lack the drive, you should listen to your body and take a break.


Unusually severe muscle soreness

#2 Overtraining Symptoms: Unusually severe muscle soreness

It may be a sign of overtraining if you eat well, eat well, and experience unusually severe muscle soreness after intense exercise. 


In contrast to “normal” sore muscles, the pain is more intense and lasts a few days longer.


Beginners, in particular, often want to achieve too much too quickly and thus quickly end up overtraining.


Do you remember your first arm workout? Even brushing my teeth was hard work for me afterward. I had at least a week good of it.


Lack of progress

#3 Overtraining Symptoms: Lack of progress

Believe it or not, too much exercise can cause you to lose muscle and gain fat. 


If losing weight was just a numbers game (“just eat fewer calories than you burn”), then the solution would be simple: the more you exercise, the faster you lose weight.


However, the key players in this equation are not calories but your hormones.


Your hormones get out of balance due to overtraining:


  • Your body produces too little testosterone (ladies, you may miss this hormone too!)…
  • and too much cortisol.


This hormonal milieu causes your fat cells to react more sensitively to insulin (“Save!”), while your muscle cells become less sensitive to it (“I don’t need anything!”). 


The calories aren’t in your muscles but in your fat deposits.


This not only means that your muscles regenerate more slowly, but you are also not successful in losing weight. It may also be that you put on extra fat.


The purpose of our training should be to get stronger and leaner.


Restlessness and lack of focus

#4 Overtraining Symptoms: Restlessness and lack of focus

This sign of overtraining is particularly relevant to CrossFitters, powerlifters, bodybuilders, and other strength athletes. 


If you train your endurance with high-intensity intervals (HIIT), you should be able to recognize this symptom as well.


You can overwhelm your sympathetic nervous system if you overdo it with high-intensity exercise. 


The “sympathetic system” is responsible for muscles, blood circulation, and metabolism, among other things. 


If you overstimulate him, you too will become overly nervous, irritable, and restless. You would find it difficult to concentrate.


Under constant nervous tension, you regenerate even more slowly – another vicious circle is created.


leaden fatigue

#5 Overtraining symptoms: leaden fatigue

While strength athletes tend to react nervously during overtraining (see overtraining symptom #4), endurance athletes suffer from leaden fatigue even during the day. 


They, too, are caused by an overstimulated sympathetic nervous system, low testosterone, and high cortisol. 


The feeling is similar to a cold that has caught you without your nose running.


Suppose you have managed to “overeat” on kilometers. 


In that case, you should consider in the medium term whether you can also achieve your training goal by reducing the volume and replacing it with shorter and crisper training units – after you have recovered from overtraining.


Joint and body aches

#6 Overtraining Symptoms: Joint and body aches

Sore muscles after training are normal for many athletes. But if the training is still stuck in your joints and limbs days later, you may have overstretched the curve.


Then it feels like a truck ran over you.


Once you have reached this state, you should reduce the amount or intensity of your training.


Susceptibility to infection

#7 Overtraining Symptoms: Susceptibility to infection

Why do we get sick more often than usual? We often lack sleep, eat unhealthily, move too little and stress ourselves too much


If you can handle all of these things and still get sick more often, it can be a sign of overtraining.


It’s okay to keep exercising with a mild cold, as long as you listen to your body. 


If you’re sick more often, it’s a sign that you’re overtaxing your immune system with too much exercise.


important overtraining symptoms

Overtraining Symptoms – Conclusion

Many of us not only train more but train harder than ever before. 


Take High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), take CrossFit, take High-Intensity Training (HIT), and take a performance-oriented marathon or triathlon training – the extreme forms of training are more popular than ever.


On the one hand, many overestimate their limits. And other athletes don’t reach their potential because they are afraid of overtraining. As is often the case, finding a healthy middle ground is an art.


The most important weapon against overtraining is to be aware of your body’s signals. You now know the seven most important overtraining symptoms. So you are well prepared to react.


And it’s all about ACTION. In the second part of this series of articles, you can learn how to avoid overtraining and what to do once you have exceeded the limit. Stay tuned 😉


This article is part of a series of articles about overtraining:

Part 1: 7 Clear Overtraining Symptoms: Too Much Training Makes You Fat  (this article)
Part 2: Avoiding Overtraining: 9 Foolproof Ways Out!