Even if you exercise regularly, it’s really hard to know what your risk may be of overtraining. We do know that high-level athletes are more likely to suffer from overtraining due to their intense training demands, with studies showing between 30% and 60% of athletes experience overtraining. But research looking specifically at how often the average person experiences overtraining is scarce.
So why might people be experiencing a weight loss plateau even if they’re exercising often? While the hormone cortisol is linked with weight gain, it’s unlikely that the average person who exercises a few times a week is going to stress their body enough to cause the kind of significant and sustained cortisol spike needed to do this.
The reason people might be experiencing a weight loss plateau – or even weight gain – despite going to the gym a few times a week or even daily can be due to any number of factors. Excess stress in your day-to-day might be one cause, alongside poor diet, not being in a calorie deficit or even overestimating the number of calories you’re burning in the gym.
If you’ve already succeeded in losing some weight but find that your progress has stalled, it may be worth calculating whether you now require fewer calories. Adding in some additional light activity everyday – such as a lunchtime walk – might also help you burn some additional calories without stressing your body.
While it’s unlikely that overtraining is preventing the average person from losing weight, it’s always important to schedule rest days into your exercise routine to avoid fatigue and allow your muscles to recover.