What Does it Mean to Physically Overwork Your Body?

If you are an athlete who is dedicated to your sport, we are sure that you always want to give 100 percent effort to your training and that you want to work out as often as you can. However, this is not healthy for your body, and it can actually have a detrimental effect on your athletic performance. This decrease in performance can come as a result of overworking your body or feeling burnt out. In this blog, we will discuss what it means to overwork your body, how to know that your body is being overworked, and how to ensure that you are not overtraining.

What Does it Mean to Overwork Your Body?

When an athlete overworks their body, they are putting themselves through too much physical stress. This stress causes the athlete’s performances in games, competitions, or practices to begin to decline in quality despite the fact that they are training more or training with increased intensity. This can happen when an athlete does not give themselves sufficient time to recover from a difficult workout or competition. There are a variety of physical symptoms that can arise when an athlete overworks their body, which include:

  • Frequently being injured
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Infections and illnesses
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Hormonal changes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Weight loss

However, physical symptoms are not the only changes that an athlete may notice if they are overworking their body. Athletes who have overworked themselves may also notice psychological symptoms, as well. This occurs because overworking the body has the potential to lead to burnout. Oftentimes, when an athlete is dealing with burnout, they lose their love for their sport and their motivation to continue practicing and playing. Other psychological symptoms of overworking the body and burnout include:

  • No longer enjoying the sport that you play
  • A lack of interest
  • Mood changes
  • Struggling in school or work
  • Increased feelings of anger or irritability
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep

Though all athletes are susceptible to overtraining or burnout, there are some who are particularly at risk. One of the most at-risk groups is the athletes whose parents or coaches are putting a great deal of pressure on them to perform well. This could cause overworking, as the athlete may feel that they need to work extra hard to live up to the expectations that were placed on them. Additionally, this could lead to burnout, as the pressure placed on the athlete could cause them to no longer enjoy their sport. Other groups of athletes who are particularly at risk for overtraining or burnout include those who only play one sport, those who play sports that require a great deal of endurance, and those who suffer from low self-esteem.

How to Determine if You Are Overworking Your Body

If you are not performing as well as you would like to in your sport, despite training as hard as you can, we can imagine that you are frustrated and that you would like to know why this is occurring. There are many physical and mental signs that you are overworking your body that can help you to determine if this is the problem. Below, we have listed six of the most common symptoms of being overworked or burning out.


Though it is normal to feel tired while you are exercising or in the immediate aftermath of your workout, overworking your body can lead to excessive feelings of fatigue. This fatigue can occur either while you are working out or soon after. If you notice that you are feeling especially winded or tired during your workouts, it may be in your best interest to reevaluate your training schedule or to train in a manner that is less intense.

Constantly Being Injured

When an athlete overworks their body, they are more susceptible to picking up injuries. Additionally, overworking the body can lead to increased feelings of soreness. If you notice that you are experiencing more injuries or soreness than is typical for you, you may be putting your body through too much physical stress.

The Same Workouts Feel Harder

When you overwork your body, you will likely feel as if your workouts are becoming harder, even if you continue to train more. When an athlete is overworked, they will likely feel more tired and challenged over the course of their workout, even if the workout that they are doing is not more intense than their other workouts. Additionally, individuals who have overworked their bodies frequently have higher heart rates, both while they are working out and while they are resting.

Getting Sick More Frequently

Overtraining and overworking the body have the potential to not only cause injuries but to cause illnesses as well. This is because when the body is being put through too much physical stress, the immune system is not able to work properly, and therefore it is not able to fight off illnesses. This has the potential to put athletes who are overworked at a greater risk for various illnesses and infections.

Feeling Less Motivated

Because overworking the body can lead to mental burnout, athletes who are overtraining are subject to feeling less motivated. This has the potential to impact these athletes both on the field and in the classroom or the workplace. If an athlete is struggling to find motivation, it may be harder for them to perform at the highest level, both athletically and academically.

Increased Feelings of Irritability

Though there are many reasons that a person may feel particularly irritable at any given moment, one of the potential causes for this is overworking the body. Overworking the body has the potential to lead to mood swings, particularly ones that result in greater feelings of anger by the athlete. If you notice that you are feeling increasingly irritable, and there are no seemingly obvious reasons for this, it is possible that these feelings are coming about as a result of overtraining.

How to Prevent Overworking Your Body

Though there are some ways to identify if you have overworked your body, it is in the best interest of your health to not get to this point. By stopping before you overtrain, you are giving yourself the ability to make all of your workouts counts and to continue improving in your sport. Below, we have listed two ways to ensure that you are not overworking your body.

Take Days Off

For athletes who want to improve, it may be difficult to go a day without training. However, this is actually in the best interest of their health. Taking a day off every once in a while gives the body the chance to recover from any nagging issues and to regain some of the energy that it has lost. As such, when an individual takes a day off from exercising, they are giving their body the ability to start fresh the next time that they exercise, which will improve the quality of their future workouts.

Prioritize Your Recovery

Though it may be tempting to call it quits right after a difficult workout, this could lead to a potential injury. Participating in some light cardiovascular activity and stretching for ten to fifteen minutes after working out can go a long way towards preventing injuries relating to being overworked. However, just as important as focusing on recovery right after a workout is focusing on recovery in the days after. When you have a day on which you complete a particularly challenging workout, you should ensure that your workout the next day is easier in order to give your body a chance to rest and recover. Doing this ensures that you will be ready to give your next difficult workout your best effort and that you will not be overworking yourself.

Another extremely important way in which athletes are able to recover from their difficult workouts is by sleeping. Sleeping is always important, however, it is especially important the night after engaging in a difficult workout. Adults should aim to get between seven to eight hours of sleep per night. When an athlete gets the proper amount of sleep, they are giving their body the best opportunity to rest after a tough workout, which ensures that they can adequately recover.


Though training is one of the most important duties that an athlete must complete in order to be successful in their sport, there comes a point where continuing to train actually does more harm than it does good. This can happen when an athlete overworks their body, which can, in turn, lead to burnout. There are many adverse symptoms of overworking the body and burnout, all of which can diminish an athlete’s athletic performance. If you notice that you are dealing with any of the symptoms of overtraining or burnout, it is important to take precautions in order to ensure that these symptoms do not become worse. We hope that this article was helpful if you are an athlete who is regularly involved in training.



Be sure to check out Ryan Weiss's coaching program and his other training programs to elevate your game.