When people start lifting weights or getting into a consistent workout program, it doesn’t take long before they’re hooked. This is a good thing! So many people can’t ever form good health habits, so if you have done it, congratulate yourself. When someone has had a long layoff from training due to an injury or other unfortunate circumstances–or if they’ve never done any strength training at all–they will usually see noticeable results within three weeks of their new exercise routine.
Like most good things in life, however, too much exercise can have negative affects. If you want to lose fat and in your first three weeks back at the gym you lose weight and bodyfat, your normal inclination might be to think: Well, if I’ve getting great results working this hard, what if I worked harder? What if I was at the gym even more often? Nothing will derail your progress like this train of thought.
The way to get the best results is to make steady, incremental progress. Small victories, not gigantic leaps forward. Pounds are lost an ounce at a time, not in tens of pounds. Weight is added to the barbell in 5-10 pound increments, not in the big 45 pound plates. Pushups with two arms, not one. The reason for this, other than the physical toll that inordinate physical exercise can cause, is that motivation wanes when your body can’t recover.
Those first three weeks of progress will motivate you more than ever before. But push too hard, for too long, and that new-found motivation will vanish. Or if it doesn’t vanish, you won’t be able to sustain it as often as in the beginning.
Whatever your physical goals are, please take my advice: the number one sign of overtraining is a lack of desire to exercise, particularly when you were looking forward to it before. If the thought of going to the gym or going for a fun fills you with dread after your initial productivity, you may have overdone it.