A great workout can make you feel on top of the world, but sometimes it makes you want to crash to the floor instead. The latter is exactly what happened to Victoria Beckham during a recent gym session with her husband, David Beckham.
The former professional footballer, 48, jokingly shared two snaps of his wife laying on the floor after their morning exercise routine on his Instagram Stories.
In one image, Victoria lays with her arms spread wide. Teasing her for being exhausted, David wrote over the photo: “Not that my wife’s dramatic or anything but this is what happened this morning.”
A second snap showed the former Spice Girl laying on her side, turned away from the camera. David added a GIF of a woman making a vomiting motion, suggesting Victoria felt nauseous after the workout.
The fashion designer got back at her husband when she later shared a photo of him laying prostrate on a floor mat to show how tired the workout made him as well. She wrote in the caption: “And the Oscar goes to…”
While it’s all fun and games for the Beckhams, exerting too much effort during exercise can have some very real consequences. Fitness experts have warned that working out too hard - known as “over-training” - can lead to injury and exhaustion.
What is over-training?
Jack Claxton, a personal trainer from David Lloyd Clubs, tells Yahoo UK that, while everyone has different physical limits they can push themselves to, there are several signs that you might be exercising too hard.
It can feel like “working at a level your body isn’t used to or hasn’t done before”, or training when you haven’t fuelled your body with enough food, sleep or water. “If this were the case, a workout or training that you’re used to doing may feel ‘too hard’ due to the lack of fuel you’re giving your body.”
Working out too hard could also mean exercising all the time without giving yourself enough time to rest and recover between your workouts.
Mark Bohannon, personal trainer at Ultimate Performance, added that, unless you’re a professional athlete, working out seven days a week “is never a good thing”.
“When you want to transform your body - whether it be through losing weight or building muscle - there is a temptation to go too hard, too often… The problem arises when people are so desperate to change their body shape but don’t know the optimal way to go about it, that they end up working out too much and it becomes counterproductive,” he says.
What happens when you over-train?
Staying fit is extremely important to stay healthy, but getting enough rest to allow your muscles to recover is also vital. According to Bohannon, it’s especially important when you’re exercising regularly, because exercise “creates microscopic tears in your muscle tissue”, which can only be repaired by cells called fibroblasts during resting periods.
“If you’re not resting, your muscles are not getting the time to repair themselves, and you won’t get stronger. Over-training will also deplete your your energy stores and leave you feeling weaker, so it’ll be almost impossible to lift progressively heavy weights or run faster, or row harder, whatever your exercise modality might be.”
When you’ve exercised too hard, you might feel symptoms like nausea, dizziness, feeling light-headed, out of breath easily and going pale, Claxton says. “Post-workout you may have really bad aches and pains, beyond what a normal workout would give you.”
Claxton recommends getting one to two full days of rest a week for the majority of people who train regularly, and three to four full days for those who don’t. These rest days don’t have to be taken consecutively, but it’s important to allow your body time to recover.
Top tips for recovery after a difficult workout
“Get some nutritious calories back in the body to replenish energy levels and help promote muscle growth and cell recovery,” Claxton advises. If you’re able to, getting advice on personal nutritional values can help you get healthier and recover faster as everybody reacts differently to different foods.
Staying hydrated will play a major role in recovery, and you should always ensure you drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout.
“Sleep is our body’s key time to recover,” Claxton says. “Try and be disciplined and take one less hour in front of the TV and one more in deep sleep, you’ll feel great for it!”
Protein is a key macro nutrient where recovery is concerned, Claxton explains, as it makes up the building blocks for cells and muscles in the body.
“A great way to let your body unwind is to use spa facilities, a massage or try classes that include a lot of stretching to help clear lactic acid and work those aches away,” he adds.
Read more about fitness and exercise:
Build a Bigger, Stronger Back with The Best Back Exercises and Workouts for Men (Men's Health UK, 24-min read)
Scientists name eight measures that can slow ageing by up to six years (The Guardian, 2-min read)
Is getting too lean risking your fertility? (Women's Health UK, 9-min read)
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