Overtraining – Part 2

Part 1 of this article explained what overtraining is, and some simple science behind it. This second part dives a little deeper into why identifying overtraining is important, and what you can do to manage it and prevent it.


Why is overtraining significant?

Other than the fact that your performance decreases and you feel awful, there is no doubt that you will increase your risk of injury.  As you become more fatigued during your workouts, your body will compensate for movements using incorrect movement patterns, thus leading to injuries.

Sub-optimal body functioning + injury = NO GOOD.


Treatment of Overreaching and Overtraining Syndrome:

REST!!!! This may mean decreasing the weight, intensity, session frequency, or even taking a few days to weeks off altogether.  Returning to sport will depend on the decrease of signs and symptoms.  DO NOT PUSH IT.


Prevention of Overreaching and Overtraining Syndrome:

The best management for overreaching and overtraining is to prevent it in the first place. There are many methods currently used to monitor for maladaptation to exercise.  The CrossFit world is already using one of them – training diaries.  Traditionally these have been used to set goals and track progress.  Now, by putting an extra minute into your log, you can reflect on your performance and catch any signs of exercise maladaptation before it becomes an issue.


Aside from your WOD info, here are a few quick and easy things that would be good to jot down:

  • How you felt your quality of sleep was the night before (Scale of 1-10; 1 being the worst sleep ever, 10 is like sleeping on clouds)
    • Prolonged poor quality sleep may be a contributor to, or symptom of, maladaptation to exercise
  • Early morning resting heart rate (this is an objective measure, meaning it is explicitly measurable)
    • After your alarm goes off in the morning, wait for your heart rate to return to normal after being startled.  Then, find the pulse on your wrist using the opposite index and middle finger and count it for 1 minute. This is your beats per minute (bpm)
    • An increase in this may indicate that your body isn’t fully recovered
  • How fatigued you felt during the workout (Scale of 1-10; 1 being extremely tired, and 10 being energized with no issues)
    • Of course CF workouts are almost always tiring… but there are definitely days that you feel more exhausted than others!
  • A long term elevation in this number may mean you are fatiguing quicker and are headed down the road to overtraining


For example, your daily log may look like this:


Quality of sleep: 7/10

Early AM Resting HR: 62 bpm

Tech/Strength: 1-RM Back Squat

Score: 200lbs

WOD: Fran

Score: 6:00

Fatigue level: 8/10


Reflect on your diary entries from time to time to catch any trends.  Remember – the best way to manage maladaptation to exercise is to prevent it in the first place.


Andrea Mendoza, BSc, MPT, Fellow CrossFit’er

  • Meeusen, R., Duclos, M., Gleeson, M., Rietjens, G., Steinacker, J., Urhausen, A. 2006. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the Overtraining Syndrome. European Journal of Sport Science. Vol. 6, Iss. 1, 2006.


  • Brenner, 2007. Overuse injuries, overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes. Pediatrics. Vol 119, No. 6. Pp 1242-1245.


  • Halson, S., Jeukendrup, A. 2004. Does Overtraining Exist?: An Analysis of Overreaching and Overtraining Research. Sports Medicine. Vol 34, No. 14. Pp 967-981(15).