Just How Much is Too Much?
Is too much exercise bad for you? Of course. There’s this practice going around as people simply think they can just pile more and more activity on and they’ll lose weight. If five days isn’t working, then six. If not six, then bump up to seven in the hope that things will work. Sometimes it can get real bad; I once met a client who worked out twice a day, seven days a week. Because her diet wasn’t in order, her never ending will to workout was causing her to gain weight. Unfortunately, too many people put a bunch of eggs in their activity basket and hardly give enough thought to recovery.
The recovery process is huge though. Simply put, if you don’t recover from exercise, your body can’t change. Yes, exercise is a good thing, but everything needs to be done in moderation. If you don’t understand the intensity levels of your workouts (simply put, how hard they are) they you can be working out and actually making yourself worse (gaining weight, feeling tired, getting sick a lot). There are some symptoms of too much exercise can include frequent colds, increased resting heart rate, increased blood pressure, decreased libido, and no desire to workout.
A study done with rowers found that a demanding two weeks of training was enough to lower testosterone concentrations (1). Each workout was two hours long, and even though the study used collegiate athletes, two weeks was all it took to zap them of their essential hormones!
Take a sensible approach to your training. A general rule of thumb is to leave just enough on the training floor for another session. If you can barely walk away because your fried yourself out so much, then you did too much.
1. Jurimae, J., Jurimae, T., et al. “Behavior of Testosterone and Cortisol During an Intensity Controlled High Volume Training Period Measured by a Training Task-Specific Test in Men Rowers.”(2009) Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23.2, 645