3 May, 2016

For many fitness professionals, their role as a personal trainer is more than a job – it is a lifestyle. From the early hours of the morning to the late evening, personal trainers are out and about supporting their clients in reaching their individual health and fitness goals.

While this is a rewarding career choice for anyone keen to change the life direction of others, it is fair to say that some personal trainers begin to feel the strain on their own bodies after some time. Whether it is through their own fitness training or the culmination of instructing multiple sessions throughout the day, personal trainers can find themselves overtraining – a potentially serious health condition.

So what are the signs and symptoms of overtraining and how can you ensure your body has quality recovery time?

Are you feeling tired or fatigued?

Are you feeling tired or fatigued?
Are you feeling tired or fatigued?

Listening to your body

It is essential for personal trainers to listen to their body. If your body doesn't feel right, it is best to review the amount of exercise you are doing, whether you are having adequate recovery between sessions and eating healthily.

As a personal trainer, a healthy body is essential to your livelihood and must be maintained to ensure your performance doesn't suffer. If you are overtraining, there is no doubt that your body will let you know. So, what should you be on the lookout for?

1) Extended muscle soreness

Most personal trainers will experience muscle soreness in the days following a strenuous workout or after instructing multiple sessions in the gym.  However, the personal trainer needs to be able to differentiate whether the pain is due to muscle fatigue or muscle damage. If this soreness or stiffness extends further than a couple of days, this may be a sign that your body is struggling to recover and there is damage to the muscles.

Should you ignore this discomfort and continue to train, it will lead to injury and potentially limit your capacity to instruct.

2) Increased heart rate

In this technological world, most personal trainers take advantage of fitness trackers such as Fitbits and GPS watches which feature heart rate monitors. While they are often used as a fashion accessory, fitness trackers can provide valuable feedback to identify whether you are overtraining.

With overtraining your body takes longer to recover resulting in an elevated resting heart rate. By regularly monitoring your resting heart rate you will have an understanding of what it usually is throughout the day.  An elevated heart rate (around 10 per cent or more above what it usually is), may be an indication that your body is struggling to recover between sessions.

For personal trainers, tracking and monitoring different parameters is part of the job. However, ensure this extends to your own body and watch for changes in heart rate over time.

3) Increased thirst

Personal trainers should have a good gauge on how much fluid they consume daily.

You will be hard-pressed to find a personal trainer without a drink bottle on them and most recognise the need to regularly hydrate throughout the day. However, if you find yourself drinking more than normal, this could be a sign that you are pushing your body too hard.

As well as replacing fluids lost through sweat, overtraining can put the body into a catabolic state. This is where molecules that make up the components of the body begin to breakdown. This process can cause dehydration and an increased thirst – one of the first signs of this condition.

While it depends on the environment and their levels of exertion, personal trainers should have a good gauge on how much fluid they consume daily. If it starts to increase, then you might need to think about taking some time off to rest your body.

Understanding your limits

No personal trainer wants to jeopardise their business or let their clients down. However, at the end of the day, your health must come first and identifying times when you are overworking your body is essential to extending your career.

Identifying and admitting overtraining is not a sign of weakness as everyone has a limit. So, with this all in mind, are you an exercise addict?

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