Men are 54% more likely to meet the recommended guideline for aerobic activity. This is more than women; only 46% meet these guidelines.
Exercise becomes more important for men as they age; exercise keeps off unwanted weight, helps reduce your anxiety and depression, and strength training helps increase your testosterone levels.
But exercise does come with one risk: the risk of overtraining. Whether the reasons are meeting a physical goal or a psychological issue, overtraining can affect your physical and mental health in many ways.
If you’re an older man, overtraining could potentially reduce your testosterone levels.
Do you have overtraining syndrome? And are you showing symptoms of low testosterone?
What Is Overtraining Syndrome?
All adults, regardless of gender, race, or nationality, need at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity and 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity.
If you’re a man of a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet, you can practice leisure cardio (jogging, swimming, etc.) for 30 minutes at five days a week.
If you prefer vigorous aerobic activity, such as strength training and HIIT exercise, you only need 15 minutes of exercise at five days a week.
What if you’re trying to lose weight?
If you’re eating a calorie-restricted diet, you also only need this amount of exercise — however, it’s recommended you workout for longer periods of time (at least an hour for each session) to ensure you burn more calories.
Overtraining is possible. Overtraining is exercising too much to where your body becomes too fatigued or weak. This reduces your overall performance and has physical drawbacks.
Some of these physical effects include muscle soreness and loss of function and the increased rate of injuries. In some men, overtraining can result in low testosterone levels.
Are you training more than the recommended amount? This doesn’t mean you’re overtraining. There is no set rule on the number of days per week constitutes to overtraining.
However, it’s essential you pay attention to your body and know when you’re too fatigued to exercise.
Why Overtraining Occurs
Overtraining is as much of a mental issue as it is a physical issue. Here are common reasons why overtraining occurs.
Everyone has an exercise routine. However, there are many myths about the number of times you should exercise.
Many fitness buffs exercise twice a day. Beginning athletes are commonly instructed to exercise twice a day — for example, they can lift weights in the morning and do cardio at night.
This isn’t exactly a bad thing; however, you only need to exercise a couple of days a week if this is the exercise regimen you follow. If you’re exercising twice a day at six or seven days a week, you risk overtraining.
Other fitness myths perpetuated throughout the decades. “No pain, no gain” is a common one. The myth is overtraining results in burning more calories, resulting in the body you want.
While feeling slight muscle soreness is common, severe pain and exhaustion are signs of overtraining. These symptoms decrease your overall performance and leave you at greater risk of injury.
This is a common issue that professional athletes and bodybuilders face. If you want to win a fitness competition, race, or are competing in a major game or event, you could train yourself to the brink of your physical limit.
Athletes can also feel pressure from their coach or trainer, engaging in rigorous physical activity.
Denial and Training Disorder
You don’t have to be an athlete to push yourself to the limit.
Many fitness buffs develop training disorders. They don’t feel adequate or fit enough unless they’re overtraining; oftentimes, they’re also not eating enough nutrients and calories to make up for their fitness efforts.
Training disorders are often mental. Similar to an eating disorder, those with training disorders often think they’re overweight. This is heightened if you previously were overweight before you started exercising.
These individuals often deny their overtraining, thinking they need to overtrain and endure extreme diets in order to lose weight.
Older men are at risk for developing this mindset. Weight gain is normal as you get older, specifically around the abdomen.
Older men want the physically fit body they had when they were younger. Even if they’re not overweight, they can develop body dysmorphic disorder, obsessing over your body and perceiving flaws that don’t exist.
Overtraining doesn’t have to be a regular activity. You can overtrain once; however, it can set your body off from your level of progress.
For example, let’s say you go on vacation. During your vacation, you weren’t active and you ate junk food. After your vacation ends, you start feeling guilty about your diet decision.
You start overtraining because you think you’re making up the lost time in the gym and the extra calories you ate.
As long as your vacation lasted less than a month, you likely didn’t gain any weight (or at least didn’t gain a lot of weight). It takes eating 1,000 extra calories for a month straight to gain weight (three pounds of fat mass).
This can be detrimental if you’re trying to lose weight. But if you’re already at the healthy weight for your age, overtraining will only hurt your body and your fitness efforts.
As a man, you usually run for the weights before engaging in other fitness activities.
Weightlifting gives you those large muscles and the strength needed to sustain those muscles. Weightlifting has many benefits — as long as you’re responsible.
Even if you’re not exercising every day, you can still overtrain your muscles.
For example, let’s say you train your biceps three days in a row. Your biceps can become extremely sore and fatigued. This reduces the performance of your strength training efforts.
The best course of action is to separate your weightlifting workouts into different body groups. For example, let’s say you work biceps on Monday. On Tuesday, work legs or abs. On Wednesday, work shoulders or chest.
This helps you focus on each muscle group for a day and also gives each muscle group plenty of rest.
How Testosterone Affects Your Athletic Performance
Testosterone plays a role in both muscle function and building muscle mass; however, this process is indirect. Testosterone increases the level of growth hormones that make it possible to build muscle mass.
Testosterone also interacts with other neurotransmitters and receptors to encourage tissue growth and protein synthesis. This process is not only essential for muscle growth but also for muscle recovery.
Testosterone also assists other areas of bodily and athletic function. For example, testosterone creates and preserves bone density, preventing your bones from becoming weak and brittle.
Testosterone also increases your energy levels, which is vital for physical performance.
Most men develop low testosterone when they’re not physically active.
Weight gain and higher BMI levels can reduce your testosterone levels. If you’re undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), exercise is beneficial to help raise your testosterone levels.
But on the downside, too much exercise can negatively impact your testosterone levels.
Why Overtraining Decreases Your Testosterone Levels
Many studies show that overtraining lowers testosterone levels. But how? The main theory is how overtraining syndrome affects the nervous system.
The nervous system is responsible for handling many stressors in your body.
If your body is working in overdrive, it impacts your nervous system’s function. One of the side effects of this issue is a hormone imbalance, specifically low testosterone.
Overtraining also affects other issues that are tied to low testosterone. Low libido is one of them. Men who overtrain are too tired and sore to engage in sexual activity.
This results in a lack of interest in sex, one of the most common symptoms of low testosterone.
Speaking of fatigue, this is another way overtraining aligns with low testosterone.
Testosterone helps improve your energy. If your body is fatigued due to overtraining, your body isn’t producing enough testosterone to replenish your energy levels.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you could be suffering from insomnia. Lack of sleep also causes testosterone levels to decrease; if you’re not resting after your workouts, your body is able to rest and balance out your hormones.
Resting between workouts and eating a balanced diet will help restore the function of your nervous system and will balance out your hormones, resulting in healthy testosterone levels.
When Men Should Start Paying Attention to Their Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is a sex hormone that’s associated with being a male sex hormone. That’s because it’s most prevalent in men than women.
It also, directly and indirectly, contributes to the physical aspects of “manhood,” such as sperm development and facial hair growth.
Testosterone plays a role in many other aspects of men’s health, aside from the sexual aspects. This includes muscle development and red blood cell production.
Testosterone levels peak during puberty. At around the age of 30, testosterone levels start to gradually decrease. However, most men don’t notice the symptoms of low testosterone until around 50 years old.
Other factors can accelerate lost testosterone levels. This includes stress, mental problems, weight gain, and overtraining.
How to Know If You Have Low T
The best way to know if you have low T is by consulting with your doctor or a testosterone specialist. But there are symptoms you can look for.
Healthy testosterone levels vary by age. However, most men have 348-1197 ng/dL levels of testosterone. Anything below 348 ng/dL is considered low.
Women can also suffer from low testosterone, though it’s rare. Women below 50 need 8-48 ng/dL of testosterone and women over 50 need 3-41 ng/dL.
Most people will first notice the common symptoms of low testosterone. This includes:
- Hair problems
- Erectile dysfunction and/or lost libido
- Reduced testicle size
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased semen amount
- Reduced muscle mass
Keep in mind, these symptoms can have other causes. It’s best to consult with a doctor or a testosterone specialist first before starting any testosterone replacement treatments.
How to Improve Your Testosterone Levels
If you suspect your overtraining is causing low T, the first course of action to take is to rest.
Take about a week off of training. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. If you want to stay active, try stretching and yoga or moderate cardio instead of vigorous cardio or weightlifting.
You should also reduce your exercise schedule for the future. Only exercise three-to-five days per week. Your workouts should last no more than an hour.
If you’re still showing overtraining symptoms, such as muscle fatigue and soreness, try getting a massage. Massage helps restore your muscle function and boosts tissue repair.
Massage will also help prevent injuries when you start exercising again.
It’s also essential to pay attention to your diet.
Certain foods help naturally increase your testosterone levels. These include oysters, ginger, anything with vitamin D, pomegranate, fish with omega-3 fatty acids, leafy green vegetables, and more.
It’s also essential you consume the recommended amount of vitamins. If you don’t think you’re ingesting the required amount, take a multivitamin or ask your doctor if you’re deficient in any vitamins.
If this doesn’t improve your testosterone levels, there could be other problems. Consult with your doctor or a testosterone specialist. Treatments such as TRT will help replace your testosterone levels.
Is Your Overtraining Causing Low Testosterone?
Exercise offers many benefits. It can reduce the risk of developing physical ailments, it can keep extra weight off, and it can help balance your hormonal levels — including your testosterone levels.
However, overtraining syndrome is a problem among several fitness buffs and athletes. Overtraining is when you’re overworking your body and not getting enough rest.
This can reduce your fitness results and increases your risk of injury. It can also lower your testosterone levels.
If you tried regulating your fitness activity, recovered your body, and altered your diet and still suffer from low testosterone, it may be time for TRT.
Contact us today. We have several locations in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.