Are YOU Overtraining? Probably Not & here’s why

Hey, let’s get straight into it, chances are you’re probably not overtraining, useless you have been to see a medical professional such as a doctor & they have said you have over training syndrome. If not, then it’s relatively safe to assume that your most likely not functionally overreaching.

Some of you reading will be thinking, one second, “I think I know my own body” & to that I say absolutely, this is not trying to suggest that you don’t, more to guide you to have a great understanding of what could be happening, giving you options & knowledge.

Symptoms of overtraining

So if you do have symptoms listed below then see a medical professional.


  • Chronic muscle & joint pain
  • Weight loss & loss of appetite
  • Decrease performance & lack of motivation to do your sport
  • Frequent illness
  • Mood changes, irritation & anger
  • Sleep problems
  • Excessive fatigue


The truth is it’s thrown around normally with misunderstanding.

Are you overtraining?

Now overtraining gets thrown around anytime someone is fatigued or tired at a training session or gym workout, “yo you’re looking washed out” or something like “you’re training to much” Because that’s how all us athletes sound right!?! … anyway, while sometimes this could actually be the case, most of the time it’s not. There are many factors that could contribute to this, lack of sleep, less than adequate nutrition & for this blog it’s going to be overreaching.

So that I can explain what’s happing when I say overreaching I need to take it right back to your initial program or phase & with any good program progressive overload will be at the centre of improving your performance. This uses the FIIT principle, adjusting the Frequency, Intensity, Time & Type of training that you are doing to achieve positive adaptions for increase performance.

With sports performance a key method especially in elite athlete training is to go into a period or phase of functional over reaching, this is accounted for within the program itself.

For example athlete A –

Want’s to increase strength, I would put them onto a 6 week strength program, using a modality that is best suited for them, week 1-3  go by perfectly, adaptions are happening at a good rate, towards the back end of week 4 & through week 5, I ramp up the training intensity & by the end of that week 5 my athletes performance has peaked & decreased slightly. 

Time for a rest period of 24-48hrs this allows for the nervous system & muscle damage to repair, meaning my athlete will come back in for week 6 having an improved performance from the new adaptions of the body. This is functional overreaching.

Pushing an athlete tactfully & meaningfully to increase performance

Now the flip side to that is doing exactly what I said above only this time Athlete B does not have the rest period & continues to chew through training like a possessed monster, however they notice no increase in their performance.


The simple answer is that the recovery time need, wasn’t allowed to happen.

A common myth in the gym is “if you aren’t training you aren’t gaining”. This is where most athletes go into the realm of non-functional overreaching & leaves most athletes wondering why is my performance down, why have I not gained weight ect.

So what exactly cause overreaching ?

The three main contributors are:

  • Muscle damage
  • Fatigue of the CNS – central nervous system (brain & spinal cord)
  • Fatigue of the PNS – peripheral nervous system (everything else)

The PNS system

Before we move on, I just want to touch on The PNS this system breaks down into

  • Somatic – voluntary movement (think picking up a glass for a drink)
  • Autonomic – involuntary movement (think digestion)

Within autonomic this then breaks down again into

– Sympathetic (fight & flight)

– Parasympathetic (rest & digest)

Athletes recovery & performance

This is the real intricacy’s of a professional sports performance trainer & while you don’t need to know the extra details,  I do believe athletes should have a basic understanding of the entire human movement system. It’s something I talk about in my method in the athlete development program.

I’ll break it down, at the right point in the program your muscle damage will be at a point when you need to allow it time to repair, if it doesn’t get that time needed & you continue to training you will only cause more damage as well as putting strain on your nervous system. 

Meaning even longer time is needed to allow for repair, if this time is too long, between damage & repair then muscle atrophy can happen, meaning your muscle will actually get smaller. This is normally the complete opposite to what most athletes are trying to achieve.

Long blog post & we really got into the nitty gritty at points, ultimately I’m trying to serve athlete in the best possible way & give them a sound understanding of the basics, & what might be heard around a weights room/gym.

Jamie is a sports performance and injury recovery specialist, as well as an athlete with very high standards.

His mission is to deliver the highest grade training, making it accessible & easily understood so that athletes can create their edge and achieve game changing results.

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