10 Ways to Prevent or Combat Overtraining in a Client

by Trisha VanDusseldorp, MS and Len Kravitz, PhD on Jan 22, 2015

A client who develops overtraining syndrome needs to return to a healthy state as fast as possible. While there is no magic cure for overtraining, these 10 preventive strategies for nonfunctional overreaching and overtraining syndrome, from Kreher and Schwartz (2012), should prove helpful:

  1. Educate the client. Emphasize that enhanced recovery will allow the client to train more and improve his or her overall fitness.
  2. Incorporate periodization training, which provides for planned recovery and variation in intensity and volume.
  3. Sensibly adjust workout volume and intensity based on the client’s performance or mood level.
  4. Ensure that the client is consuming adequate calories for training load. Meeusen et al. (2013) suggest that factors such as dietary caloric restriction, insufficient carbohydrate and/or protein intake, iron deficiency and magnesium deficiency can trigger OTS.
  5. Ensure that the client is hydrating sufficiently for workout conditions and training load.
  6. Ensure that the client is getting adequate sleep.
  7. Ensure that rest periods of >6 hours occur between exercise bouts.
  8. Encourage rest days following infection, exercise heat stress, and/or periods of high emotional stress.
  9. Avoid extreme environmental exercise conditions.
  10. Consistently monitor the client’s moods (is she or he tense, angry, unhappy, confused, grouchy, panicky, uneasy, miserable, bitter, exhausted, annoyed, weary, peeved, depressed, on edge, etc.?), and alter workouts as needed.
  11. For more information about ways to prevent overtraining, plus a much wider discussion of the topic and a full reference list, please see "Heart Rate Variability & Overtraining" in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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Kreher, J.B., & Schwartz, J.B. 2012. Overtraining syndrome: A practical guide. Sports Health, 4 (2), 128–38.

Meeusen, R., et al. 2013. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: Joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine. European Journal of Sport Science, 13 (1), 1–24.

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About the Authors

Trisha VanDusseldorp, MS

Trisha VanDusseldorp, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Len Kravitz, PhD

Len Kravitz, PhD IDEA Author/Presenter

Len Kravitz, PhD, is the program coordinator of exercise science and a researcher at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he recently won the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. Len was also honored as the 2006 Fitness Educator of the Year by the American Council on Exercise.