You put forth a lot of effort as an athlete to get better at what you do. However, more training does not always equal better training. Intense training can really harm your performance if you don’t get enough rest and recovery. When you work out, your muscles break down, and during rest, your muscles grow and heal themselves. “Overtraining Syndrome” is the result of trying to do too much, on too little rest. Remember, rest is just as important in the process as training.
If you’ve noticed that your testosterone levels have dropped, then it’d be best to take a rest day. In an article by Kreher and Schwartz, they quote the “Overtraining Syndrome” to be “a maladapted response to excessive exercise without adequate rest, resulting in perturbations of multiple body systems (neurologic, endocrinologic, immunologic) coupled with mood changes.”
In simpler terms, overtraining does more harm than good. Impacting not only your testosterone levels but even going as far as influencing your mental health and immune system. Effects of overtraining can be manifested in different ways a significant drop in testosterone levels, faltering performance, and issues in falling asleep.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone most commonly found in men, with small amounts also being found in women. Testosterone production increases once a boy undergoes puberty, and testosterone levels drop as men age, but more significantly so once a man reaches the age of 30.
It is most commonly associated with sex drive and sperm production, but it is also responsible for regulating many bodily functions in the male body, such as; muscle mass and strength, bone density, fat distribution, sex drive, and even red blood cell production.
Because it affects bone density and muscle mass, maintaining an optimal level of testosterone in the body is vital during training. It not only helps in the development of muscle mass and strength but also in maintenance. If testosterone levels drop too low, one of its side effects would be weaker bones, meaning they would become more likely to break and fracture.
It keeps your body in its anabolic state, which is the state where your body builds muscle, rather than in a catabolic state, which is when your muscles are broken down. Additionally, testosterone assists in maintaining your body’s energy levels and improving endurance. Muscle breakdown mainly occurs when there is too little testosterone in the body as opposed to cortisol levels, so your body naturally tries to cope by using your muscles as a source of protein in order for it to gain more energy.
The Effects of Low Testosterone
Due to its impact on regulating bodily functions, low testosterone levels could negatively affect many things in a man’s body. Some of these negative effects include:
- A low sex drive
- A lack of energy
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Reduced bone mass
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced sperm count
- Testicular shrinkage
Treatments for Low Testosterone
Don’t worry because, for every problem, there is a solution. If you’d like to take a more natural route in raising your testosterone levels, there are plenty of ways to do so.
The first is to simply allow your body to rest. Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for recovery. Recovery periods vary from person to person, depending on the intensity and duration of your workouts. If you’re still tired after resting from your training, you must listen to your body and adjust either your workout regimen or your recovery period. Your body needs that good quality sleep to offset and repair any damage your body has taken from training.
Next is to adjust your diet. Intaking some more calories to increase body fat helps offset the lower testosterone levels and will prevent muscle breakdown. Pay attention to your pre and post-workout meals.
If the natural route isn’t for you and you’d rather take more drastic and medical measures, then there are options for you as well.
Testosterone supplements are one way to bring your testosterone levels back up. These are prescription-only. While doctors can prescribe it if they truly deem it necessary, many will avoid this as much as they can due to the possibility of it causing liver toxicity. The speed at which the liver breaks down and metabolizes the testosterone can lead to liver toxicity.
Until safer testosterone supplements are available, doctors only prescribe this form of treatment to older males with severe clinical symptoms of low testosterone levels.
Lastly, we have Testosterone Replacement Therapy. This will help counteract some of the negative effects of low testosterone levels. Many studies have shown that Testosterone Replacement Therapy mainly assists in boosting bone strength and red blood cell production. There any many possible forms of administration such as skin patches and gels, injections, or tablets.
Unfortunately, there are side effects to this treatment. Possible side effects include:
- Increased red blood cell count
- Prostate enlargement
- Potential increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Possible breathing difficulties while sleeping
However, a study suggests that Testosterone Replacement Therapy reduces incidences of strokes and mortality in men.
It is ultimately up to you whether or not you’d like to undergo this form of treatment. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons heavily and consult your doctor before undergoing this form of therapy. The risks and benefits of this treatment for younger men are currently unclear, so doctors are recommended not to prescribe this treatment to men under the age of 65.
In the end, if you suspect that you are over-training, please stop pushing yourself. The most effective remedy is just to ease up your workouts a bit and allow for your body to rest. If symptoms persist, then consult your doctor. There may be other factors that are affecting your testosterone levels, and tests may need to be undergone. They will then be able to prescribe the most effective treatment for you.
Don’t forget to set aside time for rest and recovery – it’s good for you and your sexual health.