What Working Out Too Much Does to Your Body, Expert Reveals

·4 min read

Exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. But can too much of a good thing be not-so-good? Eat This, Not That! reached out to Dr. Mike Bohl, the Director of Medical Content&Education at Ro and a certified personal trainer to get the scoop on what working out too much does to your body. Although working out comes with plenty of health benefits, you should be aware of the negative side effects that come with overtraining. Keep reading to learn more.

Being physically active is chock-full of benefits.

fit couple running autumn
fit couple running autumn

Having and sticking to a regular workout routine is so necessary and is chock-full of mental and physical health benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consistent exercise is a must when it comes to your overall health and well-being. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your chance of contracting a disease, better your brain health, make your muscles and bones stronger, and enhance your ability to perform daily tasks. Dr. Bohl says exercise can also give you a mood boost.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Work Out 7 Days a Week

Although the benefits of exercise are extraordinary, working out too much can have negative side effects as well.

man performing intense tire workout, demonstrating when you work out too much
man performing intense tire workout, demonstrating when you work out too much

When you work out, you're using a lot of energy. Your muscles and bones endure much stress and tension. For instance, when you perform a hardcore weight lifting workout, Dr. Bohl says you actually damage your muscles. It's time to give them proper time to recover. This is why many individuals don't focus on the same muscle groups for two consecutive days. Giving your body a solid rest and recovery period isn't a question—it's a necessity.

If you constantly over-work your body when exercising, you're not providing it with that rest and recovery time. Dr. Bohl explains, "This can lead to soreness and pain, poor performance, and [an] increased risk of injury. It can also be harder to do things you're normally able to do, it can take longer to recover, and you can feel like there's a 'heaviness' to your body." He adds, "And things don't stop there—overtraining can cause disrupted sleep, fatigue, decreased motivation, depression, and difficulty concentrating. It can even negatively impact your digestive system, leading to constipation or diarrhea, and you may lose or gain weight. Overtraining also raises cortisol levels, which actually breaks down muscle—probably the opposite of what you want after training so hard."

Related: The #1 Strength Workout To Regain Muscle Mass as You Age, Trainer Says

Know the signs of overworking your body when exercising.

woman exhausted during workout
woman exhausted during workout

It's important to recognize the signs of overtraining during workouts. If you feel overly tired or you're experiencing a lot of soreness and recovery seems to be taking longer than it typically does, these are major symptoms. Also, if you feel as though your progress is taking a backstep and you can't accomplish as much during your gym time as usual, you are most likely pushing yourself beyond a healthy limit.

Here's how you can get back on the right track.

mature fit woman using dumbbells for workout
mature fit woman using dumbbells for workout

Dr. Bohl explains how you can rectify the situation if you're working out too much. Rest is the most essential thing to give your body when you've been pushing too hard. He tells us, "Depending on how much and for how long you've been overtraining, this rest can take a while—it can take weeks to months to fully recover."

The best way to regroup and get back on the right track is to plan out your exercise regimen. Establish a rotation for your workout, including ample rest periods. Dr. Bohl adds, "For strength training, split your routine and don't train the same part of the body more than two or three times per week. Common split routines include alternating between training the upper body and lower body, or doing chest/shoulders/triceps one day, back/biceps another day, and legs on a third day."

And lastly, be sure to schedule days for your body to rest and recover. We totally get it—when you're used to an aggressive training schedule it's common to feel somewhat guilty to take a day off. You can't look at it that way, as it's not a day off, it's an essential recovery day your body needs to perform its best. Recovery days are as necessary for your overall well-being as your workouts themselves!