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is there such a thing as too much cardio?

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Old 05-10-2006, 05:02 PM   #1
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Hi all!

For the past five or six weeks, I've been doing between 240 and 300 minutes of cardio per week. I try to mix things up with outdoor bike rides, spinning classes, swimming, walking, treadmill, and elliptical. I also try to vary the intensity of my workouts so sometimes I work at a moderate intensity, other times I do intervals.

Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed that it is getting harder to do my cardio workouts. I am getting tired; in fact, twice during spinning class today I yawned. That can't be normal, can it? It also seems like I'm going "backwards" in terms of fitness. Finally, I've noticed my resting heart rate is creeping up. Any idea what's going on?

Help!
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:13 PM   #2
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Are you taking a day off every once in a while? I know that I tend to go day after day, but if you don't take breaks every once in a while, you're going to burn out, which might be what you're experiencing. Take one day a week where you don't do any formal exercise - its not like you can't walk the dog or whatever, but you might try skipping one day of the hardcore cardio a week to give yourself a rest.
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Old 05-10-2006, 05:20 PM   #3
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Hi Sherry!

Overtraining can happen at different points for different people, so there isn't an easy answer for your question about how much cardio is too much. A lot of it depends on what your body is used to, whether your nutrition can support your level of exercise, and if you're getting enought rest.

I thrive on 420 minutes of cardio/week (plus lift weights) so your program wouldn't be too much cardio for me. But it may be for YOU! Exhaustion, avoiding workouts, and an increase in your resting heart rate are all symptoms of overtraining. And Rule #1 in the gym is: listen to your body!

Perhaps you could try cutting back next week and seeing how your body reacts? See if some of the exhaustion goes away and your RHR comes back down?

If you want to continue at your current level of cardio, I suggest taking a look at how much sleep you're getting and how you're eating. Any strenuous exercise program is going to require careful attention to the quality of your nutrition and adequate rest. How much sleep do you average? And what are your menus like?

I went to a seminar last fall that talked about a study showing the best weight loss and maintenance correlating with 280+ minutes of cardio/week. Your current plan is right in line with that number, so if you don't want to ramp down, perhaps a few tweaks in your nutrition and rest will let you continue?

Hope that helps a bit -- keep posting and let us know how you're doing.
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Old 05-10-2006, 09:07 PM   #4
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Thank you for your replies!

mandalinn82, I typically have at least 1 rest day per week, sometimes 2. I'm one of those that tolerates exercise and looks forward to my day off! After reading Meg's post, I think maybe I need to eat a bit better.

Meg, I think I'm down to the last 15-20 pounds or so of very stubborn fat so don't want to ramp down if I can avoid it. But I think you are right, as usual , regarding nutrition and rest.

I've been stuck at about 169 lbs since March and have thus gotten a bit lax with my nutrition. Previously, I was eating very clean -- lots of fresh veggies, some fresh fruits, lean protein, whole grains, low- or no-fat dairy. But when the scale didn't move for a few weeks, I started sneaking in things like an occasional ice cream, cheeseburger, margarita, etc. I can feel a difference when I eat this stuff, so it makes sense it would affect my performance when working out.

I try to plan for 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but haven't been sleeping too well lately. The situation that is causing this should change in time, but I'm not sure when.

So I think I will start by making a great effort to clean up my eating. Luckily, all the junk is out of the house ('cause I ate it already ) and I just won't buy any next time I shop (hubby can do without!). If I still feel like I'm overtraining, I will back off on working out until the situation that is causing my restless nights is gone; hopefully it will be soon!

Again, thank you both so much!
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Old 05-11-2006, 05:18 AM   #5
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Sounds like a great plan. I sure hope that you can get the stressful situation in your life under control - not sleeping well affects everything, even fat loss (stress can cause your body to hold onto fat). Be sure to come back and give us an update.
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Old 05-11-2006, 06:27 AM   #6
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Meg's right. I have a useful little questionaire to determine overtraining. It works for me.

Rank your agreement with the following statements. 1 - strongly disagree, 2 - disagree, 3 - neutral, 4 - agree, 5 - strongly agree.

1) I slept really well last night
2) I am looking forward to today's workout
3) I am optimistic about my future performances
4) I feel vigorous and energetic
5) My appetite is great
6) I have very little muscle soreness

>20 = pretty good recovery, <20 rest/work easy

Hope it helps
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Old 05-12-2006, 12:43 AM   #7
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Thank you, Meg. I feel much more positive today about the stressful situation and feel more in control of it, so that should help with my rest. I was very tired today so I did not work out. Combined with my planned rest day Friday, I hope to get back to it and feel energetic on Saturday.

2frus, thank you for the questionnaire! It is helpful; in fact, I'm printing it and putting it in my workout binder. I scored 21, so guess I'm kinda on the edge right now. As I mentioned, I plan to have two rest days in a row so I'm ready for a long bike ride Saturday morning.

Thank you!!
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