Are You Exercising Too Much?

April 16, 2013

Exercising too much, is that possible? Yes, exercise overload is just as much a problem as not exercising at all. 
It is in fact well documented that doing a load of exercise can easily do more harm than good. If regular exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, taking it to the extreme may cause severe health issues. 
For the majority of people, who struggle to exercise, the thought of doing too much may seem ludicrous. However, overtraining is much more common than one could assume. At the beginning, it may be simple enthusiasm, but then the idea that you can’t take a break from exercising creeps into your mind and before you know it you’ll find yourself falling into exercise overload. The problem arises when you feel the need to exercise beyond normal level, or better yet, beyond your normal level. 
Here are some of the most common signs that you might exercising too much. Exercise Overload
Delayed recovery time

Muscle soreness that last for days (if not weeks) after you workout might be a sign you need more rest. Overtraining means that you’re not giving your muscles enough time to recover and heal before you go at it again. 

Decreased performance 

Training overload can manifest in a drop in your workout performance. Altered performance levels are apparent especially in endurance activities such as running, cycling or swimming; but can happen as well with crossfit, kettlebell or even Bikram yoga. A symptom of decreased performance is constant fatigue while you exercise.

Elevated resting heart rate

More stress to the heart means it has to work harder. An abnormal increase in your normal resting heart rate may indicate that you’re placing excessive stress on your body.
Disinterest in exercise 

A sensible decrease in motivation or enjoyment of the activity can also be a major sign of burnout. 

Mood changes 

Depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and irritability are common when your body is overstressed physically. The stress hormones that are released when you’re emotionally stressed are also released when you’re physically overloaded, which explains the possible mood swings.

Fat gain 

When you’ve lost weight but noticed an increase in body fat, you could be in the later stages of what is called exercise overload. This happens because the body responds to prolonged stress by elevating levels of stress hormones (such as cortisol). Over time this may lead to an increase in insulin resistance and in storage of adipose tissue, especially around the midsection.

Increased cravings

Strong cravings for substances such as sugar and caffeine may be another sign of burnout. What happens is that your body is suddenly missing something but can’t properly identify what so it goes for the most primary needs.

What to do? 

The most important thing you can do for yourself when you experience overtraining symptoms is
is to taper down, take a breather. It’s better to take a couple of days or a week from exercise so you can come back for fighting.


  1. I definitely have a problem with over exercising BUT... I am addicted, addicted I tell you - LOL!

    1. Exercise addiction...tell me something I don't know.. lol

  2. This is a very helpful post. Thanks for sharing!

  3. How does one know if they have high cortisol? Is there a blood test or something for? I don't feel stressed, but maybe I am. I just don't know if I am exercising too much or not.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      You can do a cortisol test which normally involves taking two blood samples (one in the morning and one in the evening). The test is done to find problems of the pituitary gland or adrenal glands, such as making too much or too little hormones.
      My friends Audrey did it last month and after years of struggle she finally solved her weight problems.

  4. Great article....Can over exercising lead to sleep problems?

    1. It has been reported that being in a state of exercise overload often comes with disrupted sleep patterns. But it's not that common.

  5. Excelent article... This is so inspiring to those that are exercising too much as those articles that try to motivate people to start exercising. In the end of the day, we all should find a balance in everything we do... and each one must be wise enough to find its own balance point. The "secret" for an healthy life is at our "door step": eating and exercising with moderation. And everything always ends up in the old say: "Mens sana in corpore sano". Thanks for the inspiration, Iron You!

  6. For me the effective help to avoid overtraining was Navy Seal Formula (by MGNutritionals). I've been taking it before workouts and was feeling great! I train twice as much as I used to and still feel full of energy. Never expected such an outstanding result.

  7. It's 1045 pm, I am waking up at 5 for my morning workout and i can't stop reading your blog! You're hilarious and I'm addicted to the amazing healthy recipes! Training for ski racing can lead to over excercising and I'm finally finding a balance! Esspecially seeing you're addiction to exercising and triathletes I'm excited to race my first this spring here in Oregon!