The Problem with Exercising Too Much

by Lisa Marie Mercer

Despite evidence to the contrary, the “no pain, no gain” philosophy of fitness prevails in fitness centers throughout the world. Overtraining, however, causes a disturbing variety of unwanted results. These are some of them.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries result from performing activities that use the same muscle group on a day-to-day basis. The weight room provides an excellent example of this phenomenon. Lifting weights actually breaks down your muscles. During the 24 to 48 hours after your workout, your muscles repair themselves, creating tone and definition.

If you interrupt the repair period, you interrupt your tone and definition development, but that is not the only problem. Working the muscles in the same manner overuses your joints, causing strain, sprain, or in some cases, muscle tears. Varying your workout provides an effective solution.

If you weight train, work different muscle groups on different days of the week. Cross training your aerobic exercise sessions by alternating high impact and low impact activities will prevent overuse injuries.

The Point of No Return

Performing too many repetitions of an exercise is another form of overtraining. When it comes to exercise, quality always trumps quantity. Once you get beyond 20 repetitions of a given exercise, you compromise your form, and other muscles take over the movement.

For example, performing hundreds of sit-ups, eventually causes your lower back, neck and hip flexors to take over. Perform too many squats, and your knees, not your leg muscles, cry out for mercy.


Moderate amounts of exercise may curb your appetite, but excessive exercise may cause the opposite reaction. Exercise burns glucose. Exercising too much burns too much glucose, lowering your blood sugar and making you hungry. You may end consuming far more calories than you expended during your exercise session. If you constantly crave sweets after your workout, you may be over exercising.

The Female Athlete Triad

The Female Athlete Triad is a syndrome that usually afflicts teenagers and young women. This problem usually results from inaccurate body image issues. The girl, no matter how great she looks, thinks that she’s fat, so she over trains and cuts calories simultaneously. The results are not pretty. Low levels of body fat may stop her period. When her period ceases, she loses bone density, which in turns leads to osteoporosis at an early age.

The Bottom Line

Exercise is healthy, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Work out smarter, not harder.

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