Overtraining: training too much, how to know?

Tools to assist performance (power sensor, GPS cardio, etc.) are burgeoning and rationalize training as much as they make it more complex. In this context, what simple parameters can help regulate the load? And how GUTAÏ could help you?

The one training in excess, it is the one we usually hold. Usually… But not today. At least not under the usual conditions of ease. The worst thing about this situation is not what happens after the session – digesting failure, feeling like you need 12 hours of sleep or thinking you’re not in shape! The worst, it’s when we didn’t see it coming. Is that possible?


It’s possible! Possible when we are so in speed that the session is set – just set but set at all costs – between two other imperatives. Better still, it is possible when we freeze our training program and do not wonder about the future effects of the day’s session to adjust it to our real state of form. Or when “the other one does it, then I can do it”. In other words, it is possible in the reality of many competitors looking for the perfect program or the sensation after the session: tired but reassured.

Reassured… at least for about thirty minutes. That is to say, the time for the sensation of activation to fade and give way to the post-session reality. Family tasks, professional projects, self-management… In short, the veils that monopolize us on a daily basis. After the session, as before, by the way. Veils… or stresses… Interchangeable terms in this kind of situation because, in the end, the result is the same: I accumulate efforts, I am tired but I do not listen to what my body tells me. Overreaching is mine!


The one training in excess, it is the one that clearly unbalances my “load / recovery” balance. Clearly, in the sense that it would take me 2 days off to recover, but that tomorrow I still have a busy day at work. Clearly, in the sense that the symptoms that I know well from experience (struggling to stay focused at 9 a.m., showing a softness typical of the holiday aftermath) were not enough to slow me down earlier. Not enough anymore. It is perhaps because, precisely, I know these symptoms so well that I no longer listen to them. Fatigue… when you hold me!

The worst, it’ s when we didn’t see it coming. See it coming. In other words, perceive the beginning of an offset from the norm. Our norm. Either because, for lack of mental resources/rest, we are just unable to take a step back on the situation. Losing objectivity. Or because we are simply not aware of the signs of overreaching. In the first case, fortunately, our entourage is often there to send us some quick and precise feedback like: “What are you annoying today! Stop irritating yourself for a little bit! What do you have to be so negative about?!” Here, no excuses, because recurring feedbacks like these are sufficient in themselves; we must then admit that we are perhaps a little less sociable than usual. My social life or the revelation of my inability to cope. On the other hand, in the case of a lack of knowledge of the objective benchmarks linked to overreaching, it is not necessary to wait for feedback from others. So let’s see a little…


A greater irritability helps the diagnosis, certainly. But before reaching this point, the first alert is about personal feelings of effort. Yes, nothing less complicated. When to judge this feeling? During a familiar, recurring session, where my marks (HR + perceived difficulty) are routinised to the minute. For the same pace, if I drool a lot more than normal, then I cut tomorrow. Rest. I’m not talking about the blister on my foot, which unfortunately hinders my session. No. I’m talking about a workout where my body seems fully functional but does not respond. Does not respond anymore. Here then, to help me identify such a lag, effort rating scales are welcome (ex: from 1 to 10). Simple, right?

But it’s true, we need – wrongly! – often more to slow down. So, in our decadence of perfectionists, the cardio will then prove very precious. How? By remaining restricted to HR values lower than those normally reached for this training intensity. But… But… Right, just like a good shape, the heart rate drops! Here, however, the subtlety remains that this low heart rate is associated with the greater difficulty of effort. One doesn’t go without the other to detect a good overreached! In fact, my body can no longer start up, it wears itself out to have (again) to restart, which impacts among other things the brain and the heart. Question of excitability of the autonomic nervous system.

Skeptical? Not sure if you’re overreached yet? Well… Then comfort yourself by noticing that :

1- Your max HR is also no longer reached on sessions of quality.

2- Your HR’s rising slope is slower at the start of the effort, and…

3- …the downward slope (“HR recovery”) is faster when you stop – for these two parameters, marks taken on 1 minute from the start / stop of the exercise can easily inform you.

4- You have a libido in your socks, a sleep that is not very restorative, a “pleasure” and unhealthy diet.

Fortunately, before it comes to that, you have to have already pushed yourself (and not only in sport!). And I hope your feelings first would have led you to let go. Because at this stage, it is already a little late: a single day of rest is generally not enough to regain a good state of form.


Paying attention to such details is then making “the one training in excess” an “opportune training “. Why? Because slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean stopping. It means Prudence. It is considering the possibility of rectifying a session as soon as it begins, to self-announce “Given how I feel at the beginning of this session, perhaps it’s better that I do a little technical work under SV1 today / stretching / that I go home ! ».

Rectify. Why?

1- First, surprisingly, because research shows that these two indicators (perceived difficulty + HR) are sufficient to diagnose a proven state of overreaching. All the more complex measures (alterations of biomechanical, biochemical and cognitive markers) correlate with these indicators, much more accessible to everyone.

2- Then because the top coaches themselves work on this simple component with their athletes: “Did you complete your session?” “No?! So tomorrow rest or cool session / Yes?! So how hard did you see this session as? ». And so we fall back on an analysis of the athlete’s feelings as stated above.

3- Finally because, in the absence of rectification, the enounced chronology (degraded perceptual symptoms, then cognitive, then physiological) could otherwise sublimate itself in a state of overtraining. And there, it is not a single week of recovery that you will need…

In short, too much training only exists if and only if one remains inflexible. As with species selection, only those who adapt to stress survive and progress. Staying rigid in the face of a given stress is therefore a step forward towards the great dive. So when’s the lucidity?


With GUTAÏ, we wished to facilitate the follow-up of your state of form. Each of the calculations integrated into the app echoes the ideas developed in this article. So you will not be lost: the measures are simple, their usefulness is recognized. All that remained was to automatize everything…

Among all these calculations, let’s take the “HRR test”: the HRR test is a measurement that you can perform at the end of certain training sessions (ex: HIT sessions). It consists in stopping your effort at the end of the session then to remain immobile at least 1’10”. Over this period, GUTAÏ then detects your immobility and profits from it to measure the decline of your HR. The measurement is done automatically, so you don’t have to do anything except recover!

This “HRR” data is then crossed with several other measures, such as your “RPE” (it is your perceived exertion on the session, from 1 to 10, that you record in your session report). This step is very important: it allows to have a mapping of your body at training. GUTAÏ’s strong point is to analyze and compare only sessions that are similar. Thus, each mapping of your body is compared to a previous mapping that was obtained in the same training context (intensity, duration, altitude difference, temperature…). This to make the calculation reliable and the diagnosis relevant.