Before hitting the gym or heading out to boot camp, join Ashima Sethi in weighing out how much is too much when it comes to exercise.
Many of us have fallen head over heels in love with our workout routines, and why not, as our bodies release a ton of endorphins and feel-good hormones during exercise which help with mood, sleep and stress. However, these positive chemical reactions can also make working out addictive, and people can fall prey to the misconception of “the more exercise, the better.” So, despite how amazing constant physical activity might make you feel, it’s important to remember that there is such a thing as going too far.
Work Out. Don’t Burn Out.
Overtraining occurs when an individual exceeds their body’s ability to recover from a workout, resulting in a plateau or decrease in performance. This means that going to the gym too frequently will actually give you the opposite result you desire. Here’s why:
Exercise creates micro-tears in muscle fibres. When given the time and opportunity to heal, these fibres build up, making us stronger. However, skip the recovery period and you won’t see positive changes in muscle tone, because your body will begin to release the hormone cortisol when it is put under stress. An increase in cortisol will obstruct testosterone from successfully building muscle tissue, while forcing your metabolism to conserve energy by halting other healthy processes.
Additionally, overtraining impacts your psyche. If you’ve formed a habit of exercising every day, you may be trapped in a cycle of believing that if you rest for a day, you’ll fall out of shape (which is untrue). Always keep track of your habits. If you begin to continually swap socialising for a gym session, start to perform poorly at work, or feel guilty about taking time off exercise, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should aim for five hours a week of moderate exercise or two and a half hours a week of more intense activity. Most people opt for a combination of both over three to four sessions a week.
It’s time to shed light on the world of strength training and bodybuilding. Let’s begin with some positives:
• Building muscle mass can slow down natural muscle decline.
• Improved bone health can make you less susceptible to fractures and help prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
• When done correctly, strength training is highly beneficial for your heart and lung health.
• It increases high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) and decreases low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol).
However, when a sport is focused on the body’s visual appearance, some people will go to extreme lengths to achieve their desired form, resulting in these risks:
• Injuries from overusing muscles and employing poor technique, as some techniques are helpful for muscle growth but aren’t good for posture.
• Depriving the body of essential nutrients. Bodybuilding requires strict diets, but some individuals will restrict caloric intake and dose up on protein instead.
• Muscle dysmorphia, also known as ‘bigorexia.’ Individuals may become preoccupied with getting bigger, which results in several unhealthy habits, including spending excessive time at the gym, using anabolic steroids, following unhealthy diet plans or compulsively comparing themselves to others.
• A greater chance of overworking the central nervous system, hormonal system and immune system in the longterm, due to overtraining.
|Symptoms of overtraining:||Tips for prevention:|
|• Decreased performance||• Maintain a well-balanced diet|
|• More effort required for familiar exercises||• Stay hydrated|
|• Excessive fatigue||• Do not exercise every day|
|• Agitation and mood swings||• Maintain a routine of rest and recovery|
|• Chronic injuries||• Set your limits|
|• Psychological stress||• Get good sleep|
|• Disturbed sleep||• Get massages to loosen muscles and increase blood flow|
|• Supressed appetite||• Vary things up by targeting different muscle groups during each session or by changing workout intensity|
|• Increase in resting heart rate|
Big muscles are strong muscles – There’s a difference between training your muscles to be big and training them to be strong. Bodybuilders focus on size and shape, whereas power lifters consider strength most important.
If you aren’t sore the next day, you haven’t worked out hard enough – Soreness is a chemical response to inflammation, so judge your workout by what you achieve during a session instead. If you perform well but aren’t sore the next day, it doesn’t mean you didn’t do enough, it often means your routine was just right.
Protein can be used to substitute a meal – Different types of protein including whey, casein, soy, and others, work differently as supplements. However, certain forms of protein, particularly protein bars, are highly processed, so balanced meals are required for other nutrients.
A word of advice from fitness professionals within our Thai Indian community:
NANO AHLUWALIA – Fitness Instructor @fitspiration_bynano
“My motto is ‘fitness is not about the weight you lose, but the life you gain.’ Surprise your body with different routines to improve your cardiovascular level, muscle strength and circulation. I recommend circuit training as it conditions the body and builds endurance. Programmes can be varied to keep things fresh, and you should only work out three to four times a week. Overtraining can cause your body to go through stress and the results won’t show after a while.”
MANESH PANJABI – Certified Personal Trainer
“As cliché as it might sound, fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. To ensure that you don’t fall off the wheel, it’s important to make sustainable choices with clear-cut goals. For people who are short on time or are just beginning their fitness journey, full body workouts work best as they allow for maximum caloric burn, while also stimulating multiple muscle groups. Adjust your caloric needs to your level of activity and aim to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep to ensure you recover from your training sessions.”