Fitness For Outdoor Sports

How Do You Know If You Are Working To Hard During Workouts

Our lifestyles these days seem to be structured using the "P" principle, P = plenty, (or if a little is good more is better).

Today as a whole, society is running at full speed and cannot seem to get enough done in a day, let alone find time to relax. Persons who are fitness oriented and enjoy recreational sports have even a greater problem, to balance the stresses of work, family, fitness and recreation. But many of us do not know how to determine how much is too much.

The bottom line in sports conditioning and fitness training is stress, not mental stress, but adaptive body stress. Athletes must put their bodies under a certain amount of stress to increase physical capabilities. Where the stress loads are appropriate then the athlete's performance will improve but if the stress loads are inappropriate then a state of over-training/burnout could come about for the athlete.

Signs of Over-training

Symptoms indicating over exertion can be classified in the following way:

  • Movement coordination symptoms:
    • Increased incidence of disturbances in movement (the re-appearance of faults that seemed to have been overcome, cramp, inhibitions, insecurity)
    • Disturbances in rhythm and flow of movement
    • Lack of ability to concentrate
    • Reduced power of differentiation and correction
  • Condition symptoms:
    • Diminished powers of endurance, strength, speed. Increase in recovery time, loss of 'sparkle' (competitive qualities)
    • Reduced readiness for action, fear of competition, giving-up in face of difficult situations, especially at the finish
    • Confusion in competition, departure from usual tactics
    • Susceptibility to demoralizing influences before and during competition
    • Increasing tendency to abandon the struggle
  • Psychological symptoms:
    • Increased irritability, obstinacy, tendency to hysteria, grumbling, defiance, increased quarrelsomeness, avoidance of contact with coach and colleagues
    • Over sensitivity to criticism, or increasing indolence, poor incentive, dullness, hallucination, anxiety, depression, melancholy, insecurity

Close observation can help eliminate the possibility of serious effects of over-stressing. As soon as symptoms are noticed, loading should be reduced and recovery pursued. All performance checks and competition pressures must be removed and active recovery put in their place.

Causes of Over-Training

It is possible to categorize certain factors, if permitted to accumulate, which will bring about a state of over-training. They are as follows:

  • Recovery is neglected (mistakes in the build-up of training cycles, inadequate use of general exercise sessions for recovery)
  • Inappropriate increase in frequency of training or extent of loading or density of loading
  • Demands are increased too quickly, so that adaptation cannot be consolidated
  • Too rapid increase of loading after forced breaks (injuries, illness)
  • Too great an extent of loadings of maximum and sub-maximum intensity
  • Too high an intensity of duration loadings in endurance training
  • Excessive and forced technical schooling in complicated courses of movement without adequate recovery
  • Excess of competitions with maximum demands, combined with frequent disturbance of the daily routine and insufficient training
  • Excessive bias of training methods and units
Factors Reducing Performance

Performance can also be affected by the following factors:

  • Life Style:
    • Inadequate sleep, irregular routine by day
    • Use of alcohol and nicotine
    • Excess of caffeine
    • Bad living conditions (noise, overcrowding, inadequate light, etc.)
    • Over stimulating company
    • Lack of free time or inability to make good use of free time (no relaxation)
    • Nutritional deficiencies (lack of vitamins)
    • Rush and hurry
    • Frequent necessity to adjust body-weight
    • Taking on more stresses when already at capacity
  • Environment:
    • Over burdening with family duties
    • Tensions within family (parents, husband, wife)
    • Difficulties in personal relationships
    • Dissatisfaction with career, studies, school
    • Bad assessment and marks in school, in studies, etc.
    • Conflict of attitudes to sport (family, superiors)
    • Excess of stimuli (TV, cinema)
    • Increased burden in one area of environment (e.g. final exams, A levels)
  • Health Upsets:
    • Feverish colds, stomach or intestinal upsets
    • Chronic illnesses
    • After effect of infectious illness


A Profile of Mood States (POMS) was developed in 1971 for people undergoing counseling or psychotherapy. The questionnaire gained popularity by sportsmen and women and was introduced into the sports world in 1975. POMS, which contains 65 questions, has subsequently demonstrated that it can be used successfully to assess performance status in athletes.

Owen Anderson (PP 163) uses a shorter questionnaire to monitor the performance status of the athletes he coaches. Each morning the athletes assess themselves against the following six questions:

  • I slept well last night
  • I am looking forward to today's workout
  • I am optimistic about my future performance
  • I feel vigorous and energetic
  • My appetite is great
  • I have little muscle soreness

They rate each statement on the following scale:

  • 1 - Strongly disagree
  • 2 - Disagree
  • 3 - Neutral
  • 4 - Agree
  • 5 - Strongly agree

If their score is 20 or above then they have probably recovered enough to continue with the training program. If their score is below 20 then they consider rest or an easy workout until their score rises again.

Total Quality Recovery (TQR)

Total Quality Recovery (TQR) is a method that assesses an athlete's recovery as a combination of recovery actions and the athlete's perceptions of recovery. It is a simple test requiring no invasive tests.

Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE's)

RPE's are a qualitative and simple way of measuring the intensity of training. It takes into consideration mental and physical factors that provide the stresses of training. RPE's are often measured on a scale of 10 but if you use a scale of 20, then you can relate them to TQR or relate recovery to training. The main advantage is that anyone can use them and they can be done daily with minimal effort.

Score Ratings of Perceived Exertion Total Quality Recovery
6 No exertion at all No recovery at all
7 Extremely light Extremely poor recovery
9 Very light Very poor recovery
11 Light Poor recovery
13 Slightly hard Reasonable recovery
15 Hard/Heavy Good recovery
17 Very hard Very good recovery
19 Extremely hard Extremely good recovery
20 Maximum exertion Maximum recovery

Kenntta, G, and Hassmen, P, "Overtraining and Recovery: A Conceptual Model", Sports Medicine 1998, 26(1), 1-16

TQR Assessment Process

The assessment is conducted for a 24-hour period. Determine your score for the nutrition, sleep and rest, relaxation and emotional support, stretching and cool down sections below. A total of 20 points are available and a score of less than 13 points indicates that recovery from training is incomplete.

Nutrition (10 points)
  • Breakfast - 1 point
  • Lunch - 2 point
  • Supper - 2 points
  • Snacks between meals - 1 point
  • Carbohydrate reloading after practice - 2 points. (This assumes quality, healthy balanced meals)
  • Adequate hydration
    • throughout the day - 1 point
    • during/post workouts - 1 point
  • Environmental factors will effect greatly how much is an adequate intake of fluids
Sleep and Rest (4 points)
  • Good night of quality sleep - 3 points
  • Daily nap (20-60min) - 1 point

Quality of sleep would be measured using individual perception.

Relaxation and Emotional Support (3 points)
  • Full mental and muscular relaxation after training - 2 point
  • Maintaining a relaxed state throughout the day - 1 point

Here the goal is to use a variety of relaxation techniques (breathing, massage, etc.).

Stretching and Cool Down (3 points)
  • Proper cool down after each training period - 2 points
  • Stretching all the exercised muscle groups - 1 point

We hope this information helps you work smarter not harder and get the most out of your fitness plan.  If you need help or have questions you can contact us at

Remember To Train Hard and Play Hard

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