Tired girl, taking a break from working out

—Catherine N., University of Wyoming

If you’ve been on a regular workout routine and aren’t seeing the results that you want, or aren’t feeling great despite your efforts, that can be very frustrating. Working out inefficiently or working out too much (overtraining) can have the opposite effect on your body of what you intend.

Signs of working out too much:

Feeling tired all the time

You might not be getting enough quality sleep at night. Our body repairs itself from exercise while we sleep. Too much exercise can throw off the nervous system and endocrine system, which can lead to disrupted sleep, resulting in a feeling of unusual tiredness.

Increased resting heart rate

A normal heart rate is 60–100 beats per minute. Take your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning. If it’s unusually high or low, you could be overtraining.

Overuse injuries

Muscle soreness for a day or two after exercise is normal, but if you find you’re always sore or are developing common overuse injuries (such as tendonitis or stress fractures), you could be training too much.

Signs of working out inefficiently:

Not seeing any progress

If you’ve been working out for over a month and have not seen any gains in strength or endurance (depending on what your goals are), it could be because your workouts aren’t efficient. Increase the intensity of your workouts by going faster or longer, or lifting heavier weights. You might need to up your efforts to start seeing results.

Spending over an hour at the gym

It doesn’t take a long time to get a good workout in. Again, depending on your goals, you might only need 30–45 minutes in the gym. Decrease your breaks between sets and really focus on what you’re there to do: work out. Your heart rate should be up and you should be moving. Sitting around too much, checking your phone, or chatting while not moving may be making your workouts less effective.