Are you training too much? 9 overtraining signs

Overtraining signs. Are you training too much?
Written by Tracey Simmonds

It’s crucial that you listen to your body and know the overtraining signs. Is your training becoming excessive and borderline obsessive? It’s OK to be obsessed with pole. I think that there is absolutely nothing wrong with prolonged social media stalking sessions in search of interesting moves and to generally gaze at your favourite polers. But when it comes to your own training sessions, are you actually over doing it?

Are you a showcase nutcase or a competition crammer? With only a few weeks to prepare you decide that you can master huge feats of strength and flexibility that are only effectively achieved through years of consistently sensible training.

  • It takes approximately four weeks to measure any significant improvements in strength, while following a sensible training programme.
  • When you want to take you training up a notch, use the 10% rule. This guideline states that you can increase your activity by no more than 10% each week. For pole, this could include an increase of your training time or repetitions by 10% per week.

The first symptom of overtraining is that if you suspect that you are overtraining, you probably are. All joking aside, overtraining has very serious long and short-term health implications that you should be aware of.

Overtraining signs

What follows is a list of signs that you may be overtraining. If you’re only experiencing one of the symptoms, it may not indicate overtraining.

Decreased performance and stunted progress

Do you feel that you have hit a plateau? You have been trying to get a particular move or sequence for what seems like a long time, but you just can’t nail it?
Every pole athlete / performer has their strengths and their weaknesses.
Think carefully about your training goals. Are your objectives realistic and obtainable? As a result of responsible training, what can be achieved in the timeframe that you have?
Decreased performance levels can be the result of being psychologically and/or physiologically burnt out. If you are feeling burnt out and you are not progressing, take a step back and take a break for a couple of days.
Rest and recovery must form an integral part of your training schedule. True, your body needs to be stressed to make performance gains, but it also needs time (and proper nutrition) to make those gains.

Weight changes

Inadequate nutritious calorie intake leads to slow recovery and body fat changes.
When in training, you need to consume adequate protein and carbohydrate after exercise. Glycogen re-synthesis and muscle repair must be started as fast as possible to ensure optimal recovery. An athlete who does not consume much carbohydrate throughout the day will not have an optimal amount of stored glycogen in their muscle tissue and liver. This can lead to impaired performance, since carbohydrate is the prime energy source of the human body.
You might also be lacking dietary fats due to the false belief that dietary fat immediately converts into adipose tissue.

Binge training and binge eating

Over-consumption of junk food is a common symptom of the overtrainers’ need to satisfy their insatiable appetite with ‘dirty food’. This can cause weight gain and lead to suboptimal training results.
Increased cortisol levels are caused by overtraining, this can lead to fat storage and result in weight gain.

Insomnia & disturbed sleep

The optimal amount of sleep per night, for decent recovery, is 7-8 hours (or more). Overtraining interferes with the body’s circadian rhythms. Symptoms include waking up earlier than normal, trouble in getting to sleep or trouble in staying asleep. Also pay attention to other symptoms including restlessness and inability to focus.
These sleeping and restlessness issues are more likely to occur in anaerobic (pole), power (pole) and explosive strength (pole) athletes.

Chronic fatigue

If you are too tired to even raise your heart rate for a proper warm up before your training session. There should be no training session.
It is also a big red flag if you start to notice that you are unable to complete your everyday tasks, like your job, because you are always knackered.

Ongoing muscle soreness

There is a sense of accomplishment associated muscle soreness, and in some cases muscles soreness is good. It means that you caused some micro- tears in your muscles, and when they recover, those muscles will be a little stronger. But the key word here is recovery. As mentioned previously, if you are not recovering properly, you are overtraining.
If you experience muscle soreness pretty much all the time, you need to take a break, before you actually break something.

Increased incidence of injury

Musculoskeletal injuries due to overuse are very common in the ‘overtrained’. These injuries include muscle strains, sprains, tears, bursitis and contusions among many others.
If your training session is hitting a fail due to fatigue or lack of mental focus you are very seriously running the risk of becoming injured. Breathe and cool down. And leave. Don’t overstay your welcome at your own training session.

Elevated resting heart rate

Keep a tab on your resting heart rate. Increased resting heart rate is the result of increased metabolic rate to meet the imposed demand of training. If you notice your heart rate is steadily increasing over a two or three-week period, it’s quite possible that you are overtraining and not scheduling enough recovery time between sessions.

Depression, Irritability, moodiness and general personality changes

Keep yourself in check by asking yourself the following three questions. What are your motives for training? Have you set yourself realistic goals? Are your friends and family still talking to you?
Chronically elevated cortisol levels caused by overtraining not only eat away at your muscles, lead to fat storage and impair brain functioning. They also make you a moody pain in everyone’s arse.

Increased incidence of colds or other illnesses

It’s not a coincidence or bad luck that you caught a cold just before or on the day of your competition. Or perhaps you have frequently been experiencing flu-like symptoms? Your elevated cortisol levels, caused by overtraining, lead to suppressed immune system function. Once again, overtraining leading to bad performance and no reward.


Missing or irregular menstruation caused by:

  1. Low body fat due to rigorous exercise and inadequate calorie intake.
  2. Overtraining/over stressed body.
  3. Obviously there are other reasons you might skip a period, but you can visit your Gynae about those.
    Missing your periods is often a sign of decreased oestrogen levels. And lower oestrogen levels can lead to osteoporosis, a disease in which your bones become brittle and more likely to break.
    If you don’t take in enough calcium and vitamin D (among other nutrients), bone loss may result. This may lead to decreased performance, decreased ability to exercise or train at desired levels of intensity or duration, and increased risk of injury.

I hope you found this useful. Need more help? Go to your doctor / dietician / physio and take a break.

Leave your experiences in the comments below. And as always, thanks for reading us!

About the author

Tracey Simmonds

Tracey Simmonds is a self-professed pole nomad. She has over 10 years experience working in pole fitness: performing, competing, running studios, instructing, instructor training and a little blog writing every now and then.
Tracey originates from the United Kingdom where she started her pole fitness career, later she moved to South Africa to set up her own studio and establish the South African Pole Sports Federation.
Tracey continues to be a full-time pole fitness instructor and business owner. She is an experienced instructor trainer and mentor offering accredited pole fitness instructor courses internationally.

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