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Sports Scientist (PhD),
Ex rower and rowing coach,
Rowing Academy Scientist
Dealing with overtraining syndrome
When training the athlete it is recommended to use training loads that are tolerable to the
adaptability of the athlete. As a result , we expect the performance level of the athlete to
improve with training.
To ensure this situation we must temporarily increase training loads. But the question will
be how much we can stress the athlete to obtain maximal benefit, but not overtrain
If de-adaptation occurs due to overtraining it is usually too late to effectively reverse the
condition of the athlete.
Therefore, the key issue in dealing with overtraining syndrome is prevention.
Symptoms of overtraining syndrome
There are several symptoms that might refer to overtraining and decreasing adaptation .
The problem is that the symptoms vary a lot between individuals at similar conditions.
However, here are the most common ones:
• Impaired mood state, increased depression
• Increased subjective ratings of effort
• Higher resting heart rate
• Sleep disturbances
• Decrease in immune system
• Possible weight loss
• Decreased appetite
• Inability to sustain high intensity workout, low intensity workout might be tolerated.
• Decreased lactate performance curve
The main causes that trigger exessive
Rapid increases in training intensity. It has been suggested that increases in weekly
intensity should not exceed 1 to 2 %.
Rapid and sudden increases in training volume. Do not increase training volume
more than 10% for longer periods. Avoid temporary increases of 30-50%, as often used
in training camps during school breaks when athletes switch from 1 to 2 trainings per day.
Poor nutrition. Be sure that the athlete has an adequate intake of carbohydrates and
proteins, especially during high training load periods.
Chronic dehydration that leads to decrease in blood volume.
As said before, the main and the best option for treatment of severe overtraining is
prevention. Therefore, a carefully designed training plan must have recovery periods
included. For diagnosis of overtraining syndrome a flow chart has been recently
suggested (Meuusen et al. 2013, next slide).
Previous training more than 7 times per week?
Unexplainable performance drop?
Persistent fatigue or exhaustion for more than 4
Diseases associated with performance drop
• Primary viral diseases?
• Bacterial infection?
• Other inflammatory diseases?
• Other physical conditions?
• Viral diseases?
• Burdering psycho social factors?
• Nutritional disturbance?
• Unfamiliar environment?
• Significant decreases in training load?
Performance and training
• Reduced max performance (>10%)?
• Drop in aerobic performance ?
• Reduced training volume (>20%)?
• Deteriorated recovery?
One ‘yes’ is sufficient
IS NOT LIKELY
Meeusen et al. 2013
• It is difficult to recognize athletes with severe overtraining and overtraining
syndrome, as there is no clear sign that tells you to stop.
• One of the key issues to suspect severe overtraining is the decrease in sport specific
performance, but the decrement in performance cannot be used for prevention.
• While no single marker can be taken as an indicator of severe overtraining complex
monitoring of psychological, physiological and immune parameters can be suggested
Meeusen R, Duclos M, Foster C, Fry A, Gleeson M, Nieman D, Raglin J, Rietens
G, Steinacker J, Urhausen A. Prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of the overtraining
syndrome: Joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS)
and the American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM). European Journal of Sport
Science 2013; 13: 1.
8. Sportlyzer Rowing Academy
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rowing coaches looking for inspiration and ideas to:
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• Overtraining, overreaching and overtraining syndrome (slideshow)
• Training intensity and volume in owing (video)
• Rest and recovery during training (wiki)
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