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I am overtraining. I was happy about participating with a team sport, and I practiced days in a row leading up to a game. Because of ego, I ignored some red flags. The inevitable happened: My performance suffered, and I felt drained soreness. Epsom salt wasn’t helping. Then, as if that weren’t already enough, a couple days I did two full workouts in one day.

Overtraining: Working the same muscles on back-to-back days

It becomes crystal clear why properly warming up and cooling down is essential. As I threw the ball, I first got better and better… then ego took over when I got diminishing returns. I kept going, trying to force myself to get better again. So I did that three days in a row, and then played a game.

I had to put my arms in cold water, and I could barely use my grip strength for the game itself. I inflamed an old case of medial epicondylitis (Golfer’s elbow), and my shoulders were on fire. And if that isn’t enough, then next day after the game was my pull up session for the week. (I eventually discovered that the compression flossing bands provide significantly decreases the pain that comes with overuse injuries.)

Overtraining: Doing two workouts in a day

I am definitely not an advocate of multiple workouts in a day. If you have worked out to true exhaustion, your central nervous system needs as much rest as your muscles and connective tissues. Doing this occasionally might not undermine your progress; however, habitually taking your body to the limit multiple times in a day is a risk factor for chronic inflammation and injury. (Consider using ginger to reduce soreness and improve healing.)

The reason I did two workouts that day was peer pressure. I did an intense upper body workout that morning (after that game I just did), not realizing I would get lassoed into a lower body workout two hours later. I never really got to do the lower body workout to full intensity, because I hadn’t yet eaten after the upper body series. (Hush… it’s obvious in retrospect). So, I went into the lower body session hungry and tired, which increases the risk of using poor form and/or overstraining.

To make it worse, I couldn’t eat after the second workout either, because I was at work and had to to train others. This is not ideal at all. If any good came from all this, it was that I was ravenous later, ate fully, and then slept very deeply. However, those days altogether created a perfect storm for undermining my results. I pushed my body just shy of its ability to recover. Any more of these abuses, and I’m pretty sure I would have injured myself. A close call.

Lesson: Find your limits, test them gradually, grow incrementally, and only then do you level up.

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Jack Kirven is a gay mobile trainer in Charlotte, NC who gives a free gift to people who subscribe to our newsletter.

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