How to Keep Your Clients From Overtraining (And Why You Should)

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Working out is about balance. We must do enough training to push the needle forward but not so much that we start feeling run down.

A common issue trainers face is prescribing the right amount of exercise and keeping their clients accountable to prevent overtraining.

Read on to find out what overtraining is, why it is an issue, and how to avoid overtraining.


What is Overtraining?

Overtraining, commonly known as the overtraining syndrome in the literature, is a physiological state where training demands exceed the body’s natural ability to recover.

Common signs of overtraining include:

  • Progressively worse training performance or a plateau
  • Persistent muscle weakness
  • Soreness that doesn’t go away for days at a time
  • Loss of motivation to keep working out
  • A weaker grip
  • Impaired immunity
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite and digestive issues

The Impact of Overtraining on Athletes

Overtraining is not necessarily always a bad thing. On the one hand, we can see the state as a learning experience, which can be helpful for athletes in two significant ways.

First, overtraining shows athletes where their physical limits lie and what is too much. That knowledge can help trainees, and their coaches make better decisions in the future. 

Second, overtraining tells athletes they’ve been working hard. So, while the state itself isn’t ideal, knowing that you’ve put in serious work can be rewarding and motivating.

Of course, this doesn’t mean overtraining is cool. Athletes need to train within their ability to recover because doing so will keep them safe and reduce the risk of injuries.

How to Avoid Overtraining For Your Clients

Educate Your Clients

The first step to reducing the risk of overtraining is to explain the situation to your clients and teach them about the importance of good recovery.

Periodize Your Client’s Training

Periodization simply refers to adjusting training variables in the long run.

Incorporating periods of more and less challenging workouts is a good way to keep your clients sufficiently challenged but still giving them the time they need to recover.

One practical option is to include a deload week every six to eight weeks. The objective is to do less challenging workouts by doing fewer sets and lifting a lighter load for up to seven days.

Adjust Your Client’s Program Based on Feedback

If a client complains that workouts are too challenging and they feel tired and sore all the time, it’s best to make some changes:

  • Reduce the training volume
  • Lower the prescribed weights
  • Swap some of the challenging exercises for easier ones

Pay Attention to Your Client’s Nutrition

Educating your clients on nutrition is crucial for helping them make the best possible progress, recover well, and keep overtraining at bay. 

First, ensure that your client eats the correct number of calories for their goal, be it fat loss or muscle gain. Second, urge them to eat more protein––up to a gram per pound of body weight.

Third, promote a healthy diet and help them understand the benefits of eating more whole and nutritious foods.


Overtraining is a real phenomenon that can affect everyone: from the newbie gym-goer to the world-class athlete.

One of your jobs as a coach is to provide the guidance your clients need to train hard enough for progress but not to the point of overtraining.

Follow our practical recommendations, and you will have a client roster of well-trained, happy, and successful athletes.

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