T Nation

Overtraining Syndrome?

I was wondering if you guys can help me clear up a conundrum I’ve been having.

I’m a VERY active person who besides lifting 3-4 times a week regularly participates in other athletic activities. I’m 33 at 225 lbs and 6’ 5’’, father of two. I really like lifting weights, so I’d venture to say that the hardest thing for me is taking a week off.

Barring illnesses and vacations, I’ve been a gym regular for the last 15 years.

Couple of months ago, I noticed that my lifts started dropping, especially the bench. I didn’t consider it a big deal, since I’ve had some minor shoulder problems a while back.

I also noticed that I had a slightly elevated heart rate when going to sleep but thought nothing of it.

Anyway, 10 days ago I’ve been awaken with what seemed a bout of nighttime sweating. After 10 minutes or so I experienced a full fledged panic attack, lasting around 5 minutes.

During the last week, I’ve had issues with sleeping, mostly sudden bouts of nighttime sweating, and the occasional panic attack, not to mention two trips to the ER. I don’t have a history of panic attacks so these experiences were truly horrible for me.

Anyway all heart-related tests came back clean (ECG, ultrasound, spirometry, tropomin).

My doctor was worried about some results from my blood work - mostly increased creatine kinase (CK) (4x normal) as well as liver enzymes (ALT, AST). I knew that CK increases as a result of resistance training, so I didn’t consider it important. Thyroid problems, diabetes and everything else was ruled out. Basically, except for these increased enzymes I was completely healthy.

My doc blamed it on “abusing steroids” so I had a hard time persuading him that I don’t use them.

Searching on T-Nation I stumbled upon Dr. Lowery’s article

which pretty much describes most of my symptoms. The only thing missing was the part about panic attacks?

Has anyone experienced something similar while suffering from (undiagnosed) overtraining syndrome?

Sounds like you are very stressed, how is life lately?
Do you have time for yourself to relax? How is your diet
And your apetite? I suggest you look into some relaxation
therapy. Having panic attacks usually means youre in a far
state of overstressing.

[quote]giedie wrote:
Sounds like you are very stressed, how is life lately?
Do you have time for yourself to relax? How is your diet
And your apetite? I suggest you look into some relaxation
therapy. Having panic attacks usually means youre in a far
state of overstressing.[/quote]

Yes, thinking about it, there were some stress factors at work (layoffs in the workplace etc) but I always believed myself to be a calm person. Even if one think they’re not affected, It leaves its mark.

During the summer I’ve also let my diet slip a little believing I could compensate this with more training and other physical activities (surfing, swimming…) I guess I could pull that off 10 years ago, but not now.

Anyway, I’m dropping the gym for the next 4-6 weeks, cleaning up the diet until my bloodwork returns to normal. As far as panic attacks are concerned, I’ve had one tonight, but I actually handled it pretty well knowing that there aren’t any underlying physiological factors.

I think creatine supplementation can effect your bloodwork

Looks like you found the problem, eat clean and up your protein. As for the panic attacks they should lessen over time, if they dont then i strongly advice you to seek help. I had the same problems as you and walked around with it for too long and ended up with a burnout. Lost 35lbs bodyweight, too tired to leave the bed arms went from 17" to under 14". Basically lost 2 years of progress in several months. Dont let this happen to you.

for the panic attacks looki into L-Theanine. or just drink a butt load of green tea all day.

[quote]wannabebig250 wrote:
for the panic attacks looki into L-Theanine. or just drink a butt load of green tea all day.[/quote]

One thing I’m giving a trial of (with myself) is a product called Theanine Serene by Source Naturals. It’s L-theanine and GABA, both of which are supposed to release stress levels. If you want to look into that.

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]wannabebig250 wrote:
for the panic attacks looki into L-Theanine. or just drink a butt load of green tea all day.[/quote]

One thing I’m giving a trial of (with myself) is a product called Theanine Serene by Source Naturals. It’s L-theanine and GABA, both of which are supposed to release stress levels. If you want to look into that.[/quote]

yea i saw that one. im taking straight up l-theanine (suntheanine) at 200-400mg a day and its some really good stuff to calm you down all day and help you sleep at night.

You might have low testosterone levels…

I normally don’t reply to most threads but I had to in this instance.

I’m 27 and I’ve experienced the same thing until very recently.

I train at least 5 and usually 7 days a week, with 4 days of weights and 1-2 days of sprinting and 1 day of (multiple hour) hiking or cycling. Nutrition is fantastic.

However, I often have immense difficulties relaxing. Of course (you may recognise this), I tried to solve this by training even more. Training relaxes our types, right?

I also went for 30-60 minute walks 4-5 times a week, which helped calm me momentarily.

Anyway, my heart rate was constantly elevated and I was getting stressed out over nothing. Though I’m a quite rational and calm person, I felt my stomach convulse at the slightest mishap.

My doctor also found no problems and blood pressure and blood work were normal.

I practised meditation and worked on some personal psychological issues, but they only helped marginally.

The best thing I did was (once again) remind myself that I was in this game for many years to come and allowed myself to decrease the volume and intensity in my workouts and go back to 1 day of sprinting, even skipping it if I don’t feel good enough.

So instead of this:

Mon: Upper Body
Tue: Sprinting
Wed: Squats and Deadlifts
Thur: Cycling
Fri: Upper Body
Sat: Squats and Light Deadlifts
Sun: Sprinting/Hiking

I went to:

Mon: Upper Body
Tue: A walk
Wed: Squats and Deadlifts
Thur: A walk
Fri: Upper Body
Sat: Squats
Sun: Sprints or a walk

Every now and then I sprint twice a week, but I make sure that I skip something else here and there.

The notion that “you need to train!” is what kills some people (like myself and from the sound of it you as well). It’s not that the training that really does us in, it’s that we’ve been so bombarded with “train or you’re a pussy!” or “no pain no gain!” that after that 14-hour long day at work and trouble with kids at home, we STILL go out to the gym and “go all out”, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

That’s what’s “hardcore”.

The truth is we need to choose or battles more. I need to get at least 3 weekly weight training sessions in, but I stress less about the rest and it’s made my workouts and my psychology and stress response much better.

Good luck.

Let’s separate the concern of over-training from the concern of night sweats and anxiety attacks and address them separately, as they may not be related. First, regarding overtraining, It’s always been the case with me that if I take a week or two off, my lifts go up (higher weight, reps). Therefore, if you take a week or more off, your lifts and performance in other activities will probably increase.

As for determining if your weekly workout regime is over-strenuous, causing you to be in a perpetual state of over-training, that’s something you’ll need to keep experimenting with and tweaking until you hit the sweet spot, as all of us are different.

Now for the sweats and anxiety issues…
Besides stress, have you experienced any symptoms of depression? Depression and anxiety symptoms go hand in hand; try to identify if there have been any changes in your life or any other factors that may have brought on some mild depression. Once that is resolved, the anxiety should resolve as well. Are you taking any prescription meds? Many of them have night sweats as a side effect, especially antidepressant/anxiety medications.

Good luck

I think a lot of people confuse over training with being malnourished. Countless threads like this pop up with every detail in the world except what one is eating. If you are doing a decent amount of work in the gym and are still fairly active in addition to gym time, you need to eat more. It’s like saying “I put 3 gallons of gas in my car, now I’m going to drive from Boston to Chicago.” and then wondering why you didn’t even make it to New York.

At 6’5" 225, you probably need at least 3500 calories just to lay in bed all day, let alone lift weights and keep up with the ankle biters. Focus in on your diet and make sure you are eating lots of quality foods. I wouldn’t be surprised if your symptoms disappeared in a week or so by just doing that.

Those liver enzymes are a bit of a concern though. You sure you don’t want to tell us anything else?

I have to say overtraining sucks major balls. I was sceptical before, but I know that especially us older lifters, it is a real possibility.

I dropped around 10 lbs, first 10 days were horrible.

No appetite, I literally had to force myself to eat anything. Night sweats, occasional anxiety attack and mood swings. Basically, all the symptoms of a major depression.

After 10 days my appetite returned and I finally managed to sleep through the whole night. I felt dead tired, sleeping a lot, barely having enough energy to do basic chores and work.

Now my resting HR is almost back to normal and I’m starting to itch for training. I’m getting my blood work done next week and if the enzymes dropped to normal levels and my doc gives me the green light I can start easing back into training.

Fortunately, I’ve found a good doc who works with athletes and he helped me tremendously. He says that usually doctors misdiagnose the condition as it is rare among the general population. They just prescribe antidepressants and that’s it.

Anyway, the thing that fucked me up was the sheer amount of training volume, combined with outside stress and a mediocre diet. Training and post workout shakes cannot make up for all the other meals in a day.

For me, sleep, whey, zinc, magnesium and camomile tea were crucial.

My doc told me that one professional triathlete messed his adrenaline gland so much that the next day after completing a 10-hour Ironman he did his regular training because adrenaline was constantly excreted into his system. Ended up in the ER and ruined his career.

So, be careful. This is a game most of us are in the iron game for the long run and our world won’t collapse in we skip even a month of training. Train smart, unlike myself.

Also, find a good psychologist. I discovered that the outside stress that pushed me into overtraining wasn’t something I was acutely aware of, but something that crossed my mind once a week.

I have expirenced panic attacks and anxiety in the past and I have also over trained… One of the symptoms of anxiety and overtraining is that the sympathetic system is in far more pronounced and is turned on more often then the “Feel Good” Parasympathetic systerm which is harder to turn back on when you are more sensitized… So basically the overtraining may have triggered the anxiety and now you nerves a little more on edge, a resting raised heart rate can be from either anxiety or over training… If the anxiety continues then try a system called panic away which is what I used for my anxiety. for overtraining it typically takes 6 weeks time off with solid nutrition to get back to normal, all depends on the level you are over trained though.