Movement,  Wellness

The Dangers of Overtraining and How to Recognize It

Overtraining can be a problem, especially for females. 

In our culture, we feel the need to go-go-go and don’t take the necessary time to REST and RECOVER. This cycle keeps us undernourished, fatigued, and restless and leads to downstream effects. Often, those downstream effects are things that KEEP US OVERTRAINED- i.e., weight gain, stubborn weight, and mood issues.


We often think, “Man, I need to work HARDER to get rid of this extra fluff..” when the opposite may be true.


Here are some of the key signs of overtraining to look out for as a woman

  1. Soreness. One of the obvious signs of overtraining is being sore all the time. Now, every once in a while you may have a really great workout that leaves you quaking every time you squat down or face a flight of stairs: that’s not really what I’m talking about. But, if you’re getting intensely sore after every workout that lingers for a few days.. that’s a big clue that you are overtraining. You’re either working too hard OR not recovering enough, which kinda amounts to the same thing. It takes time for your body to condition to regular workouts, but after a while you should settle into a place where your workouts leave you energized. You should be able to workout days in a row without being in pain or experiencing muscle fatigue. 
  2. Motivation changes. If you start to notice motivation changes, this is a really big sign of overtraining. Like (regularly) waking up and wanting to cancel your workout… it maybe isn’t serving you the best it could. Especially if you are a woman who LOVES to workout and be in the gym! Listen to your body. Find movement that energizes and excites you. Somedays that might be a leisurely amble around the block. Somedays it may be a restorative yoga session. And when you’re feeling it, it can be a kick-ass power HIIT session that you CRUSH. 
  3. Plateaus. This can be in many facets of life: gym to diet. If something that has worked for you for a really long time suddenly stops working, it’s a good time to step back and re-evaluate. Plateaus happen (and they are ok), but a lot of times our adjustment is to work harder to push past it rather than backing down. Recognize that sometimes you need to take more time off (from the gym, from a diet) in order to come back stronger. 


Recovery is King

It’s easy to forget that the recovery period, the time away from the gym, is when you are actually getting stronger. The hard workout is when you’re beating your body down, tearing your muscles. It’s the time OFF that allows you to rebuild and recover stronger. They MUST happen together. 

Really, it comes down to committing fully it each side. If you have the time to get a hard workout in everyday, then you have the time to recover. You just aren’t prioritizing it. 


When you’re in the gym, WORK YOUR ASS OFF. When you’re not, RELAX HARD. 


Mediocre workouts (due to overtraining fatigue / waning motivation) + Incomplete recovery = A recipe for metabolic dysfunction and hormonal imbalance. 


My favorite recovery tips? Just take a break. If you can’t force it upon yourself, consider booking a massage or soft-tissue work for scheduled recovery. Other modalities like infrared sauna, PEMF, and meditation can offer rest and rejuvenation.


Kate Daugherty is a Functional Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist candidate specializing in mind-body wellness. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to bring the physiological body into balance. Kate offers nutritional consultation and functional medicine healing at her clinic, The Facility, in Denver, Colorado. Read more about her nutritional approach here and her background here.