Overtraining: the symptoms and how to recover

Overtraining: the symptoms and how to recover

Credit: Tanita Europe Blog

Effective exercise needs a balance of focussed effort and recovery. If you are working hard towards a big race or trying to significantly increase your running distance, this balance might be disrupted and you might be at risk of overtraining.

In this blog we look at signs of overtraining, what you can do to recover and get back on track.


Overtraining symptoms

Overtraining occurs when you exceed your body’s ability to recover from strenuous training. Your body is unique and you will respond differently to a training programme, from the next person. It is not just sports stars and professional athletes who are at risk of overtraining and so it is important to be able to recognise the symptoms.

Overtraining signs can be both physical and mental as it affects your inner body, but also your stress hormones, such as cortisol. Overtraining symptoms can include the following signs:

Reduced performance

Is your regular activity seeming harder? Are your times getting slower? If your progress has halted your overtraining means that your muscles are not getting the chance to repair before you exert them again.

Increased physical fatigue

That feeling of heavy legs is normal after a hard training session, but if it just never goes away you are probably overtraining.

Persistent muscle pain

If you still have muscle pain more than 72 hours after training it is a sign that your muscles are not repairing. In the end this can lead to loss of your muscle mass, more than gaining muscles.


From relatively mild strains to stress fractures, overtraining can result in the injury occurring, or in one failing to heal and worsening as you do more.

Minor illnesses

Are you getting every cold that is going around? Overtraining may be having a negative impact on your immune system.

Change in appetite

Stress on your body from overtraining can affect your appetite and you might notice that you are struggling to finish meals.

Mental fatigue

Symptoms of overtraining can also be mental and can include agitation, moodiness and stress.


You might be feeling physically exhausted but not able to get the quality sleep which is vital for your body to repair and your muscles mass to grow.



Overtraining recovery tips

If you are noticing several of the overtraining signs listed above, you need to start focussing on your recovery and rest, as well as pushing yourself in your training. Recovery from overtraining can take days to months.

  • Start by talking it through with your healthcare professional, GP or personal trainer – This will make sure that overtraining is responsible for the symptoms you are experiencing 
  • Rest! – It sounds easy but accepting that you need to rest is hard to do. However, it is essential if you are going to be able to carry on with your training. R. Budgett writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests 3 – 5 weeks rest and you should certainly hang up your running gear until your appetite and sleep patterns return to normal
  • Reassess your goals and recalibrate your training programme to include more time to recover between workouts  – Don’t give up on your goal but make sure that you are able to reach it in a safe and healthy way which will have long-term benefits 
  • Focus on your diet – Food is the fuel for your exercise so take some time to plan a varied, nutritious, diet 
total body water
  • Treat yourself to a massage – A deep tissue massage will help to relieve muscle tension and promote recovery
  • Do gentle exercise – it is still important to stay active during your recovery and gentle exercise such as restorative yoga can really help 
  • Check out our Train with Tanita tips so that when you resume your training you will be on the right track 
Hopefully having this understanding of the signs of overtraining will help to make sure that you can avoid it and work safely towards your fitness goals.
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