Even though strength training can do amazing things for your body, overtraining can have the opposite effect. The rush you get from a good workout is indescribable, and when you actually start to see results that rush only gets better.

No matter how exciting it is to see your new results it is important to remember that you need to be careful. Overtraining can not only hinder your muscle building efforts, it can also be downright dangerous.

Overtraining occurs when the intensity and volume of an exercise program outweighs your body’s ability to fully recover. In other words skipping rest days and adding too much weight too quickly in your workouts can lead to overtraining, causing both physical and emotional symptoms.

How do you know if you are overtraining? For starters you will start feeling run down and irritable. Overtraining can even lead to you feeling physically sick. Some of the most common symptoms of overtraining include:

  • Decreased immunity to colds and other illnesses
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased immunity
  • Weight changes
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue

Overtraining can also contribute to adrenal fatigue, which can actually cause you to gain weight, especially around the mid-section. This is especially frustrating for those who are continuing to work out and eat right but cannot stop gaining weight.

If you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, it’s time to step back and rest. There is no set time that it’s going to take for you to recover, but consider resting for at least a week. Sleep as much as you can. When you are able to resume exercising, take it slow and ease into it.

It’s best to understand how to prevent overtraining before you begin your exercise program. Try to do a variety of exercises, targeting different muscles at different times. You should also add some lower intensity stretching to your workouts, such as yoga or pilates. Even though workouts that are focused on stretching may seem like a step backwards in your muscle building goals, they are actually key to maintaining a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit.

Evaluate your diet to be sure you are getting enough paleo foods and nutrients. It is important that you continue to try to eat a balanced diet, even if you are taking a break from your workouts. In fact, the foods that you eat will not only help you to keep losing weight and gaining energy, they will also help you to start feeling better and even sleeping better. It is true what they say, you really are what you eat.

When it comes to fitness and strength training, less is often more. It might be tempting to push yourself beyond your limits in the hopes of getting great results, but nothing is worth risking your health.