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Tread Carefully

Optimum training is necessary for those bulging biceps. But over-train and you could be heading for serious trouble

ARE YOU WONDERING why sweating it out in the gym has not been reaping any benefits and is increasingly making you more lethargic? The explanation is simple: You’ve just been pushing yourself a lit-tle too hard.

Over-training, a phenomenon that was exclusively associated with sportspersons , is now a regular obses-sion with the common people, who don’t give their body enough rest to profit from the workout. Clinically termed as neuro-en-docrine disorder, over-training essen-tially occurs when the body does not recuperate between workouts or when one set of muscles is over-stressed.

“The exercise regime has to be formu-lated in accordance with the lifestyle and the physical capabilities of the person concerned. So, in case the vol-ume and intensity of your workout ex-ceeds your recovery capacity, you cease to make progress and may even begin to lose strength and fitness,” ex-plains Ajay Chand, fitness manager, Ozone. “Most people know about over-training, but are so keen on attaining a muscular physique that they opt to ig-nore it—and fail to achieve their fit-ness targets,” adds Chand.

The tendency to over-train often starts with an obsession to achieve un-realistic targets within specific time limits. Take the case of 22-year-old Ro-hit Mishra. An aspiring model, Mishra joined a gym with a target of not only reducing five kgs within a month, but also building muscle mass in three months. Endless hours at the gym along with early morning jogs and measly diet followed. At the end of two months, he had lost weight and energy and not gained any muscle mass. “I never realised it then, but I was always fatigued, experienced sleeplessness and got irritated easily,” says Mishra, who had to visit a physiotherapist to re-modify his workout.

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How does one realise that one is over-training? The symptoms vary, but there are common indicators. These include pain in muscles and joints, lethargy, insomnia, headaches, inabil-ity to relax, insatiable thirst, dehydra-tion and lowered resistance to com-mon illnesses. The extent of the symptoms differ according to the level of over-training. The first stage is signi-fied by fatigue, mental/emotional stress, anxiety and elevating heart rate.

Though there aren’t any medical tests to diagnose over-training, a heart rate monitor could act as an indicator. “Re-duction in the volume and/or inten-sity of the workout usually counteracts over-training at this stage,” says Abhi-manyu Sable, founder of Abs Fitness and Wellness Club.

But the problem gets a tad more se-rious at stages two and three when the previous symptoms aggravate and se-vere injuries like dislocation and liga-ment rupture may occur. “In a way, the body gives up its fight against the stress of over-training and permanent fatigue sets in,” says Dr Tariq Shaikh, head physiotherapist at Solaris.


Diagnosing the disorder at the ear-liest and consulting a physiotherapist immediately are the only ways out. There is no need to discontinue the workout. “Take a short rest and get back to light training. Resort to peri-odisation with the right blend of exer-cises.

If you had been over-training just one part of the body or a specific muscle group, then alter that habit,” advises Sable.

Last but not the least, the dictum prevention is better than cure works here as well. “Appoint a personal trainer or a physiotherapist who pre-pares a customised workout according to your physical capabilities and you’ll never push yourself to over-train,” rec-ommends Shaikh.

The common warning signs of over-training include the following:

Persistent pain in your muscles and joints

Frequent headache

Lack of appetite

Inability to relax, often becomes fidgety

Insatiable thirst, dehydration

Decreased or disturbed sleep

Increased susceptibility to all kinds of infections

First published on: 26-08-2006 at 11:50:22 am
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