If you read my last post on Adrenal Fatigue & Its Effects, this will give you some background info and explain how to catch and reverse the effects of the damage that has been done by overtraining/adrenal fatigue.
Ironically, as I write this, I am dealing with the harsher effects of adrenal fatigue and have been experiencing most of the following symptoms:
Depression, lack of energy and loss of motivation.
When your adrenal gland has been over-active, your hormones are being impacted negatively and depression sets in as a result of the high levels of cortisol. This will cause you to experience a loss of motivation and have less energy throughout the day.
Prolonged or increased soreness
Experiencing chronic pain as well as joint, intramuscular, and limb pain. While this is usually dependent on nutrition, it can also be seen as a sign of over-training.
The pain you will experience is the type of soreness that lingers and feels closer to nerve pain; it leads to more severe issues like joint, shoulder, sciatica or SI pain.
Decline in grip strength
This can be determined best around noon after eating two full meals – if you can’t close a dynamometer or a gripper that measures grip strength, you’re most likely suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Increased rates of sickness
Your immune system will be weaker and more vulnerable as a result of the increased levels of stress.
Diminishing rate of returns
You will stop seeing gains, because your body is trying to repair torn muscle tissue from weeks prior.
Ok, I have adrenal fatigue…now what?
Once you begin to experience changes in your energy and mood, and increased levels of pain and soreness, the damage from overtraining has set in.
In some cases, it can take a week of rest, recovery, and refeeding to come back to normal – in other cases it can take up to 3 months, depending how long and how hard you were training for without rest.
Aside from letting an injury get worse by working out, this will be your hardest lesson: accept that you need REST.
Some of the most beneficial practices to help avoid and/or repair the effects of overtraining include:
- Getting more sleep & resetting your circadian rhythm!
Getting to sleep an hour or two earlier will improve your ability to get a restful sleep.
- Focus on Nutrition!
I like to think of my body as a temple, so I try not to eat garbage too often. Occasionally a cheat meal is good for sanity, but it’s best to be in control of your urges.
Your post-workout meal is the most important for recovery; and there are also intra-workout supplements that help improve your energy and stability throughout a workout.
When you are working out regularly and putting your body through an increased level of stress, vitamin supplementation is effective when paired with proper nutrition to maintain muscle mass and density, all while keeping your immune and nervous system in check.
- Flood your adrenals with B vitamins!
Vitamins B5 & B6 specifically are great adrenal food, or can also be obtained through a high-fat, low-carb diet; B12 & folate are good supplements for helping stimulate energy production.
- Reduce Stress!
Not just your emotional stress or stress from external factors, but managing your physical stress is also important. I use yoga and meditation to switch things up and keep things interesting and less stressful.
- Adjust your training!
Your ‘training volume’ can help prevent problems created by training too frequently – a good measure is to train only enough to elicit a training response. This means lots of rest between heavy sets, and avoid full body lifts one or two days in a row.
My rule of thumb is to go heavy one cycle and light the other; as well, every time I hit the gym is a different rep range, set range and exercise regimen. Muscle confusion is a great way to keep your body from overtraining and keeps you eligible to go to the gym a more frequently.
- Adding Recovery
Resting in between full body or big muscle groups is ideal to ensure that you achieve the level of rest required to repair and develop muscle mass, all the while keeping your adrenals in check and maintaining a positive hormonal balance
- Add yoga into your schedule!
Don’t only do hot yoga; yin and restorative yoga classes are so incredibly beneficial to regenerate your nervous system.
If you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from adrenal fatigue and have been experiencing its effects, know that it can be resolved quite simply with a shift in mindset and routine.
In other words, stay away from the gym, follow the above steps, and you will feel like you are back to normal in no time.
Final reminder: your nutrition and sleep are of the upmost importance!
Wes Van Hart is a personal trainer, nutritionist (and far more), located in Toronto. Wes is an advocate for constantly improving both physical and mental health, and as such, he is dedicated to advancing his knowledge base, certifications and ability to help his clients, no matter how that looks.
Wes was the very first FitIn affiliate, and is a regular contributor to the FitIn blog.