I see plenty of references to this, but what does it mean? That is, how do you know if you're doing too much? Thanks
Overtraining is a condition produced by the body's inability to adapt to the stress level applied. In practical terms, what this could mean is that, for eg., your do your session on Days 1-3-5. You keep adding training volume or intensity from session to session or weekly. After a while, you show up on Day 3 to the gym and are unable to increase the volume or intensity on some exercises. You go back on Day 5, try to use the same training volume you did on Day 1 and find that you can't even match your previous benchmarks on any exercises. In between workouts you face increased fatigue and loss of appetite. Resting heart rate could be higher and cortisol (stress hormone) is probably higher as well. This scenario manifests itself for a while. How do you address this? Reduce volume of training, take a few extra days of rest, sleep longer, change your routine and so on and so forth. Depending on several factors (general fitness, age, diet, other sources of stress), you may get away with just skipping one training session and reducing the next before being back in shape. At the other end of the spectrum, you may need to address this phenomenon in more complex ways.
Overtraining should never be experienced by beginners or novices and should only be experienced by advanced and elite athletes or, at the most, some intermediate trainees who couple big volumes with improper recovery (sleep, eat, other stress).
Yeah, this doesn't sound like it should be an issue for me. I do weight 3-4 x week now but not in an intense bodybuilder kind of way. But I do like to swim a few times a week (intervals & distance), do intense yoga 3-4 x week (Ashtanga), and intervals on elliptical. I do all this because 1) I need to get in better shape and 2) I enjoy it and how it makes me feel, physically and mood-wise. As a former athlete I'm familiar with what happens when you are working out a lot and not feeling particularly strong after a bit, then you take a couple days off and boom, your next practice is awesome.