If you suspect that you’re doing too much cardio, this article will show you cardio overtraining symptoms to look out for.
The truth is cardio can be addictive. When people experience the runner’s high, they never want to stop. But realize that doing too much cardio can do more harm than good.
In fact, it’s never a good idea to focus on cardio alone. Combining cardio and strength training is the best way to lose weight and stay fit.
Now, don’t confuse overtraining with challenging yourself. It’s important to push yourself and get the most out of each workout. But you shouldn’t exercise for hours, 7 days a week. Cardio overtraining occurs when you exercise for long hours or too consistently without rest.
How much cardio is too much?
There isn’t a straight answer to this question. It depends on several factors like your fitness level, age, how active you are, your health, quality of sleep, and much more.
For someone who’s active throughout the day, doing 1-hour cardio every day may lead to overtraining. But for a sedentary person, 1-hour workouts may not have any negative side effects. Additionally, what may be overtraining for you right now may not be so after one year.
The most important thing is to listen to your body and look out for the cardio overtraining symptoms below.
Cardio overtraining symptoms
1. Gaining weight despite training hard
Are you gaining weight despite running or walking on the treadmill for hours? This could be a sign that you’re doing more cardio than you need.
Doing too much cardio disrupts hormones. It raises cortisol levels and lowers testosterone levels. These hormonal changes slow metabolism, increase appetite and make you gain weight.
If you’ve been doing cardio regularly but you’re gaining weight, despite maintaining a healthy diet, go easy on your workouts. Reduce the duration or frequency of your workouts.
2. Feeling tired all the time
Exercise is supposed to energize you. So if you’re feeling tired all the time, you might be doing too much.
Again, this has to do with your hormones. Cardio overtraining raises cortisol levels. As you may know, high cortisol levels increase stress and tiredness.
Too much cardio also depletes glycogen stores, which can leave you feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus.
Don’t be too quick to conclude that cardio overtraining is the problem. Remember that lack of adequate sleep and low-calorie diets can also make you feel tired all the time.
3. Being thirsty all the time
It’s normal to drink more water when we exercise. But if you have an unquenchable thirst, especially when you do cardio, chances are you’re overtraining.
Drink lots of water during and after workouts.
Too much cardio without rest can cause stress and adrenal fatigue. When this happens, you may start losing sleep. In fact, research shows that overtrained and stressed athletes sometimes suffer depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Doing cardio before bed can also be problematic since it raises body temperature and makes it harder to fall asleep. Avoid cardio (or any other exercise) 2-3 hours before bed.
If you lose sleep every time you exercise, reduce your workout duration or exercise at a lower intensity.
5. Low sex drive
Exercise is supposed to boost your sex drive, right? Well, this isn’t always the case. Too much cardio can disrupt sex hormones associated with fertility and libido.
As I mentioned earlier, cardio overtraining lower testosterone levels, which can lower libido in men. Women also experience PMS symptoms like acne, food cravings, insomnia, and low libido when they overtrain.
6. Prolonged muscle soreness
Normal muscle soreness should last for 1 to 2 days. Being sore for more than 72 hours could be a sign you need to rest and recover. Prolonged muscle soreness can even interfere with muscle growth.
Don’t ignore joint aches as well. Cardio overtraining causes pain in the knees, hips, ankles and lower back.
7. Getting injured often
Cardio overtraining increases the risk of getting injured. Overtraining puts a lot of pressure on the joints, bones, and muscles.
Resting regularly can help lower risk of injuries. Remember to warm up before workouts to avoid injuries.
8. Getting sick too often
Moderate cardio can help strengthen your immune system and fight diseases. But too much cardio weakens the immune system.
For one thing, cardio overtraining increases oxidative stress, which makes the body prone to diseases. Second, hormonal changes increase the risk of inflammation which can result in illness and aches all over the body.
Make some changes to your cardio routine if you’re getting infections often.
9. You can’t complete your workouts
Sometimes you may not finish your workouts due to lack of motivation. But being unable to run a distance you usually run or walk a certain distance could mean you’re doing too much.
It’s time to slow down if you notice that you’re getting weaker workout after workout. Taking a short break from training can improve your performance.
10. Skinny-fat syndrome
Too much cardio ruins body composition. It makes one skinny and fat at the same time.
When you overtrain, you burn both fat and muscles. Muscle loss slows metabolism and makes it harder to lose fat. As a result, you’re left with excess fat on the chest, belly, and butt.
11. You do cardio every day
When you train every day, the body doesn’t get to rest and recover. And this leads to low workout performance and tiredness.
Unless you’re an athlete, it’s not necessary to train every day. Plus, you should realize that most athletes use performance-enhancing drugs to stay on top of their game.
12. You’ve become weak
You’re bound to lose strength if you don’t give your muscles time to recover and grow.
That said, cardio doesn’t build much strength. That’s why it’s important to combine it with strength training.
13. Lack of concentration
If you have brain fog hours after your cardio workout, you’re probably overtraining. Try skipping a few workouts to see if your concentration improves.
Now, don’t use lack of concentration as an excuse not to exercise. Exercising can improve your focus and concentration if you’re not overtrained.
Cardio overtraining does more harm than good, so stick to moderate cardio and do strength training regularly.
To avoid cardio overtraining, use this training sequence. It will allow you to burn fat, build muscle, and improve your cardiovascular health in as little as 15 minutes.