Overtraining was coined initially on the idea of excessive training which resulted in fatigue and underperformances.

If you’ve ever been in this position, you’ll agree that more is not more and that you paradoxically have a deconditioning effect. I.e. you become a worse athlete by training harder.

However, there’s new insight from the 2019 EROS study by Cadegiani and Kater which shows that overtraining syndrome (OTS) is far more than excessive training loads…In quick fire fashion, here’s what you need to know.

𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗸 𝗙𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘀:

• Excessive Training
• Excessive increase in training volume or intensity
• Unrefreshing sleep
• Lack of good sleep hygiene
• Carbohydrate intake <5g/kg for >8 weeks
• Protein intake <1.6g/kg for >8 weeks
• Calorie intake <35kcal/kg for >8 weeks
• Absence of >1 free ad libitum meal per week (indicator of kcal restriction)

𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 (𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮𝗹𝗹):

• Reduced testosterone
• Reduced metabolic rate
• Impaired fat utilisation
• Reduced muscle mass
• Decreased testosterone–to-estradiol ratio
• Worsened mood state
• Decreased libido
• Reduced immunity
• Psychological strain (concurrent cognitive effort)
• Unexplained fatigue

Interestingly, the EROS study compared non-athletes (control group) with healthy athletes and athletes with OTS. They found that marker patterns were different amongst the healthy athletes and those with OTS, however little differences were seen between the control and OTS athletes.

Suggesting that OTS is mostly a mix of deconditioning processes independent of excessive training and triggered by additional risk factors as mentioned above.

Therefore, it’s paramount to identify symptoms of OTS early before they compound – therefore prevention is always the best cure.

Due to the anti-anabolic and pro-catabolic conditions combined with being in a hypo-metabolic state, the body is potentially acting preventatively against long-term starvation like circumstances.

𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗜𝗺𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗢𝗧𝗦:

• Reduce training intensity and volume
• Additional resting
• Increase calorie, carbohydrate and protein intake
• Improve sleep hygiene
• Manage stress
• Avoid social and familial problems

Ultimately, OTS is an undesirable deconditioning effect that many athletes will experience when living at the rev limiter and pushing to be the best.
Use the points above to recognise OTS and adapt your training + lifestyle accordingly to maintain health and continually maximise long term performance…

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