Most CrossFit enthusiast encounter a moment in their journey where they push themselves too much. It’s the moment when you lose motivation, become tired, gain weight and sometimes feel a little depressed. In other words, when something you loved makes you feel miserable. It’s what we call overtraining.
You might sense that something is wrong but not know what it is. You have to listen to your body and trust your instinct. If you’ve reached that point, it’s time to learn how to listen to yourself even when pushing yourself.
The good news is you will love CrossFit again. You just need to slow down your training and ramp it up gradually – not push through this time.
What is overtraining?
Overtraining is when you push body too hard and it takes a toll on your physically and mentally. It’s essentially the breaking point of working out. Working out too much can end up decrease performance and mental health for a short to long term period.
Recovering from overtraining can be quite hard and take even weeks or months. It’s even harder if your life revolves around training – slowing might be very difficult to accept.
So what ends up happening? You might not give your body enough time to recover from training. We will go more in details of the symptoms but the biggest one is fatigue and slight depression.
In CrossFit, it often happens when you reach a plateau. You want to break through the plateau and start training harder only to find that it has the reverse effect.
As you guessed it, it’s highly inefficient. You have to imagine your energy as glass of water. Training is about not emptying the glass while growing your muscles.
In this article, we’ll also tackle ways you can recover from overtraining but also prevent reaching that state. It’s all about listening to your body and understanding that your energy isn’t unlimited.
Symptoms and warning signs
The goal here is to recognize the signs to help you prevent reaching the overtraining stage. No need to worry, it’s normal to feel tired about intense CrossFit workouts. The dangerous part is when you aren’t recovering properly. We’ll be talking about a prolonged fatigue and a total lack of motivation.
Overtraining signs when you are working out:
- Having soreness for a long time after workouts: it’s important to go at your own pace – we recommend just slowing down the volume or weight.
- Heavy drop in performance: if you can’t lift close to what you were lifting before.
- Reaching a plateau in your personal records: don’t push too hard, be patient.
- Physically impossible to train as hard as previously
- Thinking about skipping CrossFit work outs when you used to love it
- Feeling very heavy at trainings
- Pain in joints such as elbows, wrists or knees making it hard to push yourself
- Needing more than usual to recover from CrossFit workouts
- Loosing your focus often during exercises
- Getting more injuries than usual
Indicators in your life:
- Significant decrease in motivation to train
- Feeling of depression – irritated & frustrated often
- No more social life or balance between training & daily activities
- Often sick like having colds
- Trouble sleeping: waking up several times at night or low quality sleep
- Inability to relax & wind-down from CrossFit training
- Quick changes in mood: anger & frustration
- Too much at the CrossFit gym
- No more joy in CrossFit workouts
Overtraining symptoms in your health:
- Insatiable thirst
- Being often sick from low immune system
- Weight loss or complete loss in apetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Higher resting heart rate than usual
- Women: irregular menstrual cycles
Again, the goal here is to prevent overtraining. You should look for these signs in order to stop yourself before it’s too late. Ideally, you learn about your limits and never break them no matter the circumstance. Remember, overtraining in CrossFit will set you back much farther than going slowly in the right direction.
What to do once you’ve passed the overtraining stage
While not ideal, most people reading this article will have reached a stage of varying degrees of CrossFit overtraining. You’ve been able to diagnose yourself with the symptoms above. This will help you gauge the intensity of your overtraining.
One thing is for sure, you must start listening to your body again. Talk to your coach, tell them how you are feeling. It can also be a good idea to take the time to log how you feel before & after workouts. If you see that you haven’t been motivated in a week, it might be time to take a little break. You should also track your muscle fatigue – is it constant?
You could try to vary the type of exercises you do or train with less intensity if you are starting to feel certain signs. The goal here is that you would be able to see the red flags before it’s too late. You should never feel guilty or weak for taking care of yourself. You want to build a stable long term relationship with CrossFit.
That being said, you could also look at your health:
- Are you eating enough calories and nutrients?
- Do you sleep at least 8 hours per night?
- How many liters of water do you drink per day?
- Do you feel stressed by other things at work?
If none of those things help you, take a full break until you feel ready again. Burning yourself out will last in even longer recovery. It’s why we recommend going slower – it will save you years of progress. While pushing yourself is important, it must be done progressively and giving you proper rest. A well-designed CrossFit workout program should give you that. It’s why we highly recommend you talk to your coach if this article spoke to your situation.