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11 signs of OVERTRAINING (and what to do about it!)


You have heard the term before, overtraining, but maybe you haven’t or maybe you’re just not quite sure what it really means.


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Often in our training schedule, we will purposely increase volume and/or intensity of training load in order to potentiate physiological adaptations that would result in longer term increase of performance.  This is called overreaching.  Yes, this is a good thing, but we must plan a proper recovery period or else this may lead to something called overtraining syndrome.


In a nutshell, overtraining involves the accumulation of stress, leading to a decrease in physical and mental performance in sport.  Most often, there is a mismatch between the load (the training stimulus) and adaptation (or I should say, maladaptation).  Not only can we see performance changes, but it’s also associated with hormonal, immunologic, neurological, and psychological disturbances.


Before we go over this list, it’s important to note that it is always ok to visit your healthcare provider when you are not feeling well.  That’s what we are here for!


Here are 11 signs and symptoms that you may be overtraining:


  1. Immune system alterations.
  2. A loss of appetite.
  3. For the gents, a loss of virility
  4. Fatigue
  5. Being in a depressive state
  6. Increased irritability
  7. Loss of motivation
  8. Lack of mental concentration
  9. Heavy, sore, stiff muscles
  10. Losing weight
  11. Decreased performance despite increase in effort


Please be aware that this is not an exhaustive list as there can be other signs and symptoms as well associated with overtraining.  Additionally, some of these signs and symptoms may be related to more sinister conditions, which is why it is always a good idea to visit your healthcare provider if you are not feeling well!


However, if you are feeling any of these symptoms, it is important to realize that you must take a step back and re-evaluate.  Recovery must be your emphasis.  Make sure your nutrition is on point, reduce your training load, implement meditation to keep the stress down, and I would also urge you to visit your healthcare provider to tailor specific recovery methods to you.



THE best way to treat and injury or illness is to avoid it all together!  Here is a short list of things that you can monitor about yourself that may provide hints if you are on the road to overtraining.


  1. Heart Rate Variability (HRV).  This would involve you buy a heart rate monitor that has Bluetooth and link it to an app on your phone. There are several apps to choose from (I personally use Elite HRV).  When your HRV is getting low, this can be a sign that you may need to increase your recovery.  Remember, HRV is something that’s more accurate when you measure it every single day.
  2. If you do not want to get a heart rate monitor, you can simply take a morning resting heart rate.  Measure your heart rate when you first wake up while you are still laying down. Log this number daily.  If your heart rate is significantly higher than your norm, you may need to increase recovery.
  3. Monitor training load.  Try not to increase in load more than ~10% per week.
  4. Monitor your weight.  Are you unintentionally losing weight?
  5. Just like how you have routine checkups with your dentist, I recommend having routine checkups with your manual therapist.  


To conclude, I leave you with these final words:


If you train hard, recover harder.  



Dr. Eric St-Onge

Dr. Eric St-Onge graduated with a B.Sc. (Hon) from McMaster University, and subsequently obtained his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from New York Chiropractic College. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. Dr. St-Onge understands that there is no single method that will treat all injuries and movement dysfunctions. This is why he uses an integrative approach to care. A lifelong learner, he is determined to make the best decisions for his patients for the best outcomes. He recently completed a 2-year intensive post-graduate Sports Sciences fellowship at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Dr. St-Onge competed internationally in Kettlebell Sport, a form of weightlifting. He has also achieved the North American record in one of the events. Dr. St-Onge has endured sport injuries himself and understands the physical and emotional strain that come along with it. He abides by the rule that the best way to treat an injury is to prevent it all together.