Too Much Cardio?
I have coached many people through marathons, triathlons, races, HIIT classes, and indoor cycling classes. A question that pops up every now and again is “How much is too much?”
There are a lot of bias in the fitness business about this topic. I own an indoor cycling studio, and think it’s a very efficient way to burn calories, with minimal impact on your body. There are other forms of cardio available to you, but I believe 45 minutes of interval training on a stationary bike is best. I mention this to offer transparency from my bias. So, back to the question of “how much.”
Let’s start with this. Less than a quarter of Americans are getting enough exercise, based on federal standards.
Only 22.9% of U.S. adults from 18 to 64 met 2008 guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise between 2010 and 2015, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. So, if only 22.9% of U.S. adults are getting enough, what’s the percentage of of Americans that are doing too much?
According to Sabrena Jo, a senior exercise scientist for the American Council on Exercise. “The first sign of overtraining is when the performance of the exercise starts decreasing,” she says. “Additional symptoms can be things like sleep disturbances, lack of motivation and moodiness.”
But don’t bag your recently kicked-off 2018 fitness routine just yet. Overtraining syndrome mostly happens to elite athletes, said Joe Park, an orthopedic surgeon with the University of Virginia Health System. But it can also strike dedicated amateur athletes, such as long-distance runners.
Thanks Joe. I am an avid runner, cyclist, and open-water swimmer. And when people ask me if I think I overtrain, I usually say no. The real question about this is level of intensity and is it the right sport for you. For example, if the same person develops a hamstring tear, an Achilles tear and a stress fracture in a few weeks of training…let’s find something else to do.
Let’s wrap this up, most Americans are not in danger of overtraining because most Americans don’t train enough in the first place. Stay with me on this. Where I have seen general population more commonly overtrain is when they go from zero to one hundred. Example: “I never have run long distance, and today I will run 3 miles.” I have learned through injuries and failures that the best way to avoid overtraining symptoms is to ramp up exercises gradually, most experts would agree with me.
There are rules of progression whether the sport is endurance-focused or strength-focused, Jo said. “The rule of progression is to increase no more than 5 to 10 percent every few weeks whether it’s distance traveled, weight load or intensity,” she said.
If you fall behind on a training schedule by a week or more due to illness, there is no way to make that up, Black said. “You just have to skip it. You can’t just double up the next week.”
For example, say you’re in a run training program in preparation for a race and you didn’t do your assigned 10 miles one week. That doesn’t mean you should do 20 miles the next week.
Be smart, and if you don’t know, ask a professional.