Overtraining is a severe condition that consists of decreased sports results. And profound violations of the immune system, nervous and endocrine system, and mental status.
What is overtraining?
Today we will talk about overtraining. Overtraining or overtraining syndrome is not just fatigue that develops in people who are engaged in serious sports loads. First of all, of course, these are endurance sports, such as:
- long-distance running
It can also affect people who are engaged in power sports. It is difficult fatigue resulting from which you do not want to train there for some time. Then we waited for two or three days, and everything passed, we came and completed the previous amount of work.
Overtraining is a condition when your adaptation to physical exertion is disrupted. That is, you not only lose your performance in training, but you also worsen your performance. That is, it would seem that you are training intensively and voluminously. The indicators are not that they are not growing, but on the contrary, they are falling. And you feel that all these volumes of work that you used to perform calmly are given to you with a very significant effort.
Overtraining is also a great change in the psychological state. It is:
- violation of the immune system
- nervous system
- endocrine system
That is, in principle, it can be compared with a specific disease that develops imperceptibly. And you need to know to avoid this condition. And you also need to know what measures to take if suddenly this unpleasant fate has befallen you.
What is super-compensation during training
First, let’s figure out what physical training is, why it is needed.
The goal of any physical training is to achieve adaptation to the physical work performed. Usually, due to the correct periodization, you come to the training to do some work. Then you get tired, and you need some time to rest. As a rule, this is a few hours for some talented people, a few days for some less gifted people.
But nevertheless, by the next training session, if everything is fine with you, you come and do the work. It may also be even a little better. And as a result, your results are gradually growing. That is, if the training is built correctly, super-compensation develops. And this process of super-compensation. If you depict it in the form of a graph, will be a saw directed upwards. That is, where there will be a peak is the maximum and sports performance. Then there will be a decrease in productivity, which takes time for this to happen to rest. Then, after some time, the performance increases. The adaptation has occurred.
What is functional fatigue?
sometimes as a result of:
- heavy physical exertion
- improper rest
- improper nutrition
- some external social conditions
- some disease
A person needs more time to rest.
For example, days or even weeks, and if for days or weeks a person cannot go out for training. And perform the same amount of work with the same level of intensity as he did before. It is called functional overwork.
After a week or two, you come to training there at the end of functional fatigue. And still, everything works out for you. You perform the assigned work sometimes even better than before.
But there are other cases. When this rest is not enough for several weeks. When this rest is delayed for two or three weeks, it is necessary up to a month. And after you have paused, you come back to the training. You can do the same amount of work, but it took you much longer to recover.
This condition is already called non-functional fatigue. Why is it non-functional? Well, because you have a very long break for you to stop. It takes weeks or even months.
How does overtraining occur?
And finally, when, as a result of intensive training, you cannot fully exercise for months. It is already called an overtraining syndrome.
Always with overtraining syndrome, as I have already said, a person is warned by a change in mood. that is, it can be:
- various sleep disorders
- It naturally can be a violation of the immune system
That is, such a person in a state of overtraining may be more susceptible to colds. Changes from the gastrointestinal tract may develop. The appetite disappears, the weight falls, and of course, the sports indicators fall, and they fall pretty sharply. At the same time, a person makes incredible efforts to perform the same work that he performed before without strain. And sometimes, it happens that a person tries to overcome himself to increase the volume to increase the intensity.
But this leads to an even greater failure. As a result, a chronic pre-workout develops, which sometimes lasts for years.
Thus, here is the whole process from physiological overwork, then the transition to non-physiological overwork, and finally overtraining. It can be considered as a single extension where it’s just a matter of time. If you have recovered quickly in a few days, then you have functional fatigue. If it’s a few weeks to a few months, you don’t have functional fatigue.
And finally, if you can’t recover for more than a month, there for years. Then this is already an overtraining syndrome. Therefore, the separation between these states is purely conditional. And no one can, as I have already said, describe any specific physiological processes, which would be inherent in a particular state.
The fact is that the research questions are for athletes who are in a state of overtraining. It is a very difficult matter. Well, because to conduct any research, you need to take a group of overtrained athletes and take a group of ordinary athletes. It’s not easy to pick up people of a certain weight and age who are engaged in a certain sport. Well, taking especially athletes to bring them to overtraining is inhumane, unethical, and so on.
That’s why research in the field of overtraining is challenging. And we currently have some kind of generally accepted theory of overtraining development.
Theory of glycogen depletion and overtraining
But nevertheless, there are 7 most common hypotheses, which explain the appearance of overtraining syndrome. Let’s start in the order from the simpler to the more complex.
In the first place is this theory of glycogenic depletion. We have fuel reserves in our muscles, which are called glycogen. Glycogen is an animal starch from which glucose is then formed. With the help of glucose oxidation, adenosine triphosphate is formed, our universal fuel. And so on. Then it goes to the synthesis of creatine phosphate, and muscle contractions are triggered.
And here is the first theory, to assume that people who are in a state of overtraining simply decrease glycogen reserves in the muscles. But this theory is not very well supported by practice. since we can see even overtrained people who eat excellent food are even overweight and consume a large number of carbohydrates. Nevertheless, they develop overtraining.
However, all the same, violations in the glycogen reserves can occur with overtraining. I will talk about this later.
Participation of the central nervous system in the development of overtraining
The second theory changes in the central nervous system. During heavy physical exertion, the number of amino acids with branched side chains decreases. BCAAs that many athletes take.
Heavy physical exertion leads to the fact that the concentration of such BCAA amino acids falls in the blood. Let me remind you that these are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. And as a result, more tryptophan than necessary begins to penetrate the central nervous system. The fact is that tryptophan is another amino acid. Both tryptophan and branched-chain amino acids compete with each other for penetration into the brain. And as soon as our reserves of branched-chain amino acids are depleted. Nothing prevents tryptophan from entering the brain. And tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin and melatonin.
Serotonin is the so-called happiness hormone. Maybe you’ve heard of it. An excessive amount of serotonin that is formed in the brain’s neurons can lead to a condition that develops when taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the first days. when a person:
- anxiety symptoms
- worsen sleep
- disturbed excessive sweating appears
- the amount of prolactin increases. It is a pituitary hormone that muffles the effect of sex hormones.
As a result of an increase in serotonin levels and an increase in the sensitivity of brain tissues to serotonin, depression develops. And mechanisms produce that lead to violations in a person’s physical performance. And thus, the overtraining syndrome develops.
Depletion of glutamine reserves and overtraining
The third theory is the depletion of glutamine reserves in the body. glutamine is an amino acid that:
- provides us with the processes of DNA and RNA synthesis
- it is the best fuel for the cells of the gastrointestinal tract
- it is the fuel for the cells of the immune system
- in addition, it plays a role in the regulation of the acid-base balance
- and many other functions it has
Here, during physical overtraining, glutamine reserves are depleted. And as a result, all the indicators that are characteristic of overtraining develop. first of all, it is disturbed:
- the functions of the immune system
Since the supply of fuel for immune cells suffers. And therefore, people who are engaged in intensive sports do not have a rest. acute respiratory diseases often occur
Theory of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Sympathetic and parasympathetic overtraining.
The fourth theory is the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. let me remind you that the negative nervous system is a department of the nervous system that regulates vital functions in our body. that is, these are all our involuntary reactions such as:
- rate heart rate
- dilation pupil constriction intestinal
That is all those functions that provide us with life. And so, there are two divisions of the peripheral nervous system in the non-autonomic nervous system. It is the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for fight-or-flight reactions. and it is responsible for:
- increasing blood pressure
- increased pulse
- increased blood glucose levels
- inhibition of peristalsis pupil
Well, in contrast to it, there is a parasympathetic nervous system that reigns in us during rest. that is, it:
- slows down the contractions of the heart
- relaxes the vessels
- blood pressure drops
- drowsiness occurs
- the work of the gastrointestinal tract improves, or rather its peristalsis accelerates.
- salivation increases
- pupils narrow
Here is the imbalance between these two systems. It is also believed to play a role in the development of overtraining syndrome.
How appear sympathetic nervous system
At first, the sympathetic nervous system prevails, and we can observe this. Here is such a test that many athletes are engaged in running. Such as cycling, know that they need to measure their pulse in the morning while lying in bed still. And if this pulse increases the pulse of calm, then this means as a signal that the body is in a state of overtraining. In this way, the sympathetic nervous system manifests itself.
With this type of activation of the sympathetic nervous system, a person also has:
- appetite disappears
- anxiety increases,
- sleeps poorly
And this is the so-called sympathetic phase of overtraining. If this phase continues further, the person does not get the necessary rest. Gradually, the sympathetic nervous system exhausts its strength, and the tone of the parasympathetic nervous system begins to prevail. already in this case, on the contrary, it happens:
- the pulse slows down
- the appetite increases
- drowsiness occurs in a person
- and he becomes more so inhibited
- sometimes he even gains weight
Nevertheless, with parasympathetic overtraining, a person cannot develop a working pulse. If earlier he had a maximum pulse on some segments of the intervals there 160-170. and then he suddenly began to have difficulty maintaining a pulse of 130-140. and at the same time, he experiences incredible torment to maintain the desired speed, for example, when running. It’s already parasympathetic overtraining.
This is uses such an indicator as heart rate variability for its diagnosis of sympathetic and parasympathetic overtraining. It is believed that a decrease in heart rate variability is a sign of overtraining. But this sign develops and is not observed in everyone.
Theory of violation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in the development of overtraining
The fifth reason overtraining can develop is the pituitary gland’s role and the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands.
It is believed that during overtraining, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland begin to work incorrectly. There is an excessive amount of release of adrenocorticotropic hormone. Which then leads to an increase in cortisol levels. cortisol, in turn, suppresses
- sex hormones
- cortisol promotes catabolism, that is, the breakdown and synthesis of muscle fibers.
And as a result, fatigue and reduced productivity develop.
Theory of oxidative stress and overtraining
The sixth version is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the accumulation of reactive nitrogen and oxygen compounds in our cells, primarily in skeletal muscles. And ethically active compounds of oxygen and nitrogen damage:
- muscle fibers
- muscle cells
As a result, a person’s physical performance decreases. Where do they come from during physical exertion? From the mitochondria, the fact is that in the mitochondria, we produce ATP, and in any cell, they are. With intense physical exertion, the number of free radicals increases, which are a side effect of mitochondria.
Normally, there are certainly by-products in the form of reactive oxygen and nitrogen compounds. But our antioxidant systems cope with their excess. When a person trains for more than an hour or more than two hours intensively, the amount of reactive oxygen and nitrogen compounds generated by mitochondria increases. And as a result, our antioxidant systems do not cope, and damage increases. As a result, overtraining comes.
Cytokine theory of overtraining
The seventh theory is the most complex, but it also most fully answers the questions. where does overtraining come from, and how does it develop? It is the cytokine theory.
It consists of the fact that during physical work, our muscles are damaged. Both muscles and tendons, and joints experience microtrauma. And these micro-injuries trigger local inflammatory processes. Which, when accumulated, begin to produce more and more interleukins. inflammatory interleukins such as:
- interleukin 1 beta
- and necrotic tumor factor-alpha
These substances begin to interact with the whole body. Well, first of all, they begin to affect the utilization of glucose by the muscles. Under the influence of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, the penetration of glucose into the muscles is disrupted.
Lack of nutrition
The muscles do not receive enough nutrition. Their glycogen reserves begin to melt. And to replenish glucose reserves, the amino acids with a branched side chain, which I have already mentioned, begin to oxidize. That is, litsin isoleucine and valine.
A decrease in the number of amino acids with a branched side chain leads to the fact that the muscles do not recover well enough because these amino acids are still crucial to prevent muscle breakdown.
In addition to the fact that there are changes in the amino acids with a branched side chain, inflammatory cytokines also act directly on the hypothalamus on the hunger centers. As a result, a person loses his appetite. As a result of loss of appetite and impaired glucose intake into the muscles, a person may develop a lack of muscle nutrients. And as a result, muscle weakness develops.
In addition, a large number of pro-inflammatory cytokines also reduce glutamine reserves. Also, a large number of pro-inflammatory cytokines lead to the activation of the so-called type 2 t-helpers. With an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines, the number of type 2 t-helpers increases. Which more activates humoral immunity, and cellular immunity suffers. And this leads to a greater frequency of colds.
How appear inflammatory cytokines on nervous system
In addition, inflammatory cytokines themselves have an unfavorable effect on the central nervous system. that is, they are involved in:
- the development of depression
- mood disorders
- psychological various changes
And thus, we see a complete set of all the attributes inherent in the overtraining syndrome. That is, it is disturbed with an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines:
- psychological processes
- disrupting the functions of the immune system
- disrupted the functions of the nervous system
- are disrupted the function of the endocrine system
- in particular, the amount of prolactin increases
- the amount of testosterone decreases
- the ratio of testosterone to estradiol changes
And we see a complete picture of the overtraining syndrome. This theory is quite complex, but it explains most fully why it occurs. But nevertheless, there are also gaps in this cytokine theory, as in all the previous ones.
And therefore, more new research is required to determine exactly what still leads to overtraining syndrome. And there are some difficulties here that I mentioned earlier.
How is overtraining diagnosed
Now let’s talk about how we can diagnose overtraining syndrome? There are no specific tests, no specific tests yet to clearly say that a person has an overtraining syndrome.
No matter what analyses we did, I read works where studies on 117 indicators were carried out. That is all kinds of checks of hormone levels, all kinds of biochemical parameters. It includes an instrumental study such as an ECG, an MRI of the heart, and various functional tests. And there is nothing so specific that could say that this person has an overtraining syndrome.
An overtrained person is no different from a person who is just tired of training. And so we turn on our attention, and we describe the symptoms that we see in a person. And we conclude that based on the fact that a person has trained a lot intensively increased the volume and can not recover after a few months. So this is the diagnosis that is being made.
Of course, when diagnosing overtraining syndrome, we should always consider some concomitant diseases. That is, first of all, to check whether a person normally eats enough. Because there are three trigger triggers that cause the transition to overtraining syndrome. this insufficient intake of:
- calories in the cellular diet
Yes, these are the carbohydrates that everyone scolds. Supporters of the keto diet will certainly be against it here. Nevertheless, carbohydrates are extremely necessary for people who are engaged in endurance sports. And so we have to analyze whether people use them enough.
in addition, of course, it is necessary to see if a person has a state of overtraining of any:
- organic changes in the heart, valves
- make him an electrocardiogram
- if there are any allergies,
- find out that he has no asthma
- there through the respiratory tract
- it is necessary to make a general blood test. To check if he has an anemia
You need to do a cortisol test. But not cortisol in the blood or saliva. And it is best to make cortisol in the daily urine. That is, by the release of cortisol in the urine, it is possible to most clearly judge whether a person’s cortisol level is elevated or not. As a rule, with overtraining syndrome, cortisol levels increase, but let me remind you that cortisol levels and low testosterone and high prolactin can also be generally the same in a person who does not do sports. It’s all just a collection of symptoms we need to look at. And the totality of biochemical parameters.
All this is necessary in order to diagnose a person with overtraining and exclude some organic diseases.
Treatment of overtraining
After the diagnosis is established, of course, we would need to cure the overtraining syndrome since there are no clear pathogenetic justifications for why the overtraining syndrome develops now. Then there is no well-reasoned scientific evidence. And there are also no studies that this or that dietary supplement or any hormonal drugs or anything else helps with overtraining syndrome.
The first and most likely the only help with overtraining is a full rest. That is, you don’t have to force yourself. You don’t have to force yourself to go to training when you don’t want to. If you feel that you can not fully fulfill your program, you can not develop your previously developed pulse. It is not necessary to do this.
That is, you need to rest until the moment when your psychological state does not recover. When you do not feel any strength in yourself, and then you should start resuming training. And very, very carefully and with very low loads. First 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, and so on, you can bring it up to an hour there. At the same time. It is always necessary to focus so that you can fully fulfill the volume. That you performed on the previous workout by the next workout.
And it is necessary to give preference during the recovery. Non-intensive loads, on the contrary, volumetric and low-intensive. If on the example of running or cycling. It is not in any case, no intervals should be done. It’s just calm riding on a low pulse or running on a low pulse. That’s how you can gradually get out of the overtraining syndrome giving yourself a rest and gradually increasing the load. It is better not to train before in this case than to overtrain.
If you don’t want just to sit back and relax, waiting for your overtraining to pass. Then you can try. I say try because this is far from a guarantee that it will help. You can try to influence the alleged links of pathogenesis.
Be sure to intake right amount of calories
The first link that I was talking about is the depletion of glycogen reserves in the muscles. Here it is simply necessary to make sure that your diet first has a sufficient number of calories. So that you eat at least as much as you spend. And so that you have a sufficient amount of carbohydrates. Because whatever you say, carbohydrates are the easiest way to turn them into glycogen in our muscles. And thereby restore their reserves.
Regarding the theory with glutamine, you can take supplements that contain the amino acid glutamine. There are powders and capsules. In accordance with what I said earlier. The concentration of amino acids with a branched side chain decreases in the body of a well-trained person. Well, it would be logical to restore this concentration. It is better to take impure additives containing amino acids with a branched side chain as a recovery.
It is better to take a protein hydrolysate that contains the same amino acids with a branched side chain. But also other essential amino acids.
In addition, you can use an additive called hydroxymethyl butyrate. Hydroxymethyl butyrate is a derivative of the amino acid leucine. Leucine is one of the most powerful amino acids with a branched side chain. Hydroxymethyl butyrate is it’s a leucine metabolite that is approximately 20 times stronger. Therefore, hydroxymethyl butyrate can be used.
Well, in addition, as a result of oxidative stress that develops with overtraining. Free radicals accumulate. They could also be somehow reduced. To do this, you need to take antioxidants. the most harmless and useful antioxidant is ascorbic acid vitamin C.
But in addition to all of the above. It is necessary to sleep enough to have a favorable social environment. That is, a good job, family, friends, and a good mood. I wish you all excellent health and a great mood.