We cover extreme sports at SGSC, extreme and adventure sports. You might think that in order to do those sports you wouldn't want to think moderately. But here's the irony. It seems that the best way of achieving extreme-ness is … moderation! Not too little, not too much! And here's why.

According to health experts, if you overtrain, without giving yourself the appropriate amount of rest and recovery time, you will experience more negative effects of training than positive ones. You may find that your performances decrease rather than improve. You may experience continual fatigue, mood swings, be unable to sleep and cause yourself injury. Other possible side effects are loss of motivation and also loss of weight. Overtraining could be the answer if you experience some of these symptoms.

Overtraining can be training too often, or it can be too intensively, but for both of these cases to produce overtraining syndrome (OTS) the excess has to take place over an extended period. This is because many athletes use shorter periods of a raised amount of training, whether more often or harder, in order to achieve "over-reaching", a phenomenon whereby the "bounceback" effect following the recovery from this short period of excess training produces better performances and greater fitness/strength/stamina etc.

So, make sure you do things right, and have a look at some recommendations from the experts:-

  • Eat enough for the amount you exercise.
  • Drink enough water when you exercise.
  • Sleep enough.
  • Do not exercise in extreme heat or cold or when you don't feel well.
  • Vary your exercises and your exercise routines.

On the other hand, as one would expect to be the case, you can also exercise too little. This is not surprising, but what is surprising is that researchers from a Danish University have found that the  proportion of muscle strength which can be lost after only a couple of weeks of inactivity is astonishingly high.

The research - carried out by Andreas Vigelsoe, from the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark - was conducted on two groups, of younger men and older men, and did not merely involve inactivity, it involved total immobility. One leg of each participant was totally immobilised and the muscle mass was measured at the start and the end of a two week period.

The measurements showed that, after this amount of immobility, the younger people lost 30% of their muscular strength - equivalent to ageing 40-50 years! Among the group of older men the loss was 25%. There was also loss of muscle mass as well as strength. The loss of strength and mass was greater among the younger group as they had more muscle at the start of the experiment. Therefore even though the older group lost a smaller proportion of muscle, the loss was deemed to be more critical for them than for the younger men by virtue of having less muscle in the first place.

And we know what an adverse effect lack of muscle can have on all aspects of ones life as one ages, not just on one's sports.

Following the two week experiment, the subjects of the research underwent training on a bike to test how their fitness recovered. The bike training - three or four times a week for six weeks - did restore their fitness and muscle mass, but was not enough on its own to restore muscular strength. Additional weight training was required for that, and the researchers pointed out that as a rule of thumb it can take three times as long to replace the muscle as it took for it to be lost.

No doubt the researchers ensured that the participants had adequate recovery time as part of the training to ensure maximum results.

So, not too much, not too little, seems to be the way to go about your training. Don't think that simply more and more and more is better and better and better. Train intelligently to get the most out of it. If you want to be extreme, a little moderation goes a long way.


American College of Exercise. Top 10 Signs You're Overtraining. .

American College of Sports Medicine. Overtraining with Resistance Exercise.

Halson SL, Jeukendrup AE. Does overtraining exist? An analysis of overreaching and overtraining research.

Kreher JB, Schwartz JB. Overtraining syndrome: A practical guide.Sports Health.

Andreas Vigelsoe, from the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.