At 5 pm, you leave work and rush to the gym to prepare for a 5:30 pm kickboxing class. After an hour of high-intense cardio, you're going to stay for a 6:35 pm strength conditioning class. And after an hour of pumping those weights, you're going to hit the treadmill for 20 minutes before heading home.
Then Tuesday, you pretty much do the same thing: two to three classes PLUS 20 to 30 minutes of personal exercise time of jogging on the treadmill, lifting dumbbells, or hitting the exercise machines.
Then Wednesday comes, and even though you don't feel your best, you're going to keep going hard! Three group fitness classes PLUS personal exercise time. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday comes and you continue this fitness routine. On Sunday, you have NO energy to hit the gym, so you'd spend that day resting.
After three months of doing this routine, you notice that you're not getting any more results.
You're more tired, you're getting weaker, and classes are becoming harder and harder. Then one morning after you wake up, you head to the bathroom to pee -- and you noticed that your pee is BROWN!
Whoa, that's freaky!
But maybe it's a fluke, a one-time thing. Nope, it's not! All throughout the day, it's like you're peeing out Pepsi!
Then you start getting sick, weaker, nauseated, and experiencing pain all over your body. Being scared, you head over to your doctor who diagnosed you with rhabdomyolysis.
Rhabdomyolysis (which literally means "striped muscle break-down") is a condition where your skeletal muscles (biceps, triceps, abs, etc.) are damaged to the point where your body is becoming toxic. This condition might even be considered an athlete's disease because athletes (or any avid exercisers) are the ones who are probably MOST at risk for this disease.
To understand rhabdomyolysis, you need to understand micro trauma (or micro tears) of your muscle fibers. Whenever you work your muscles, such as with lifting weights, you develop micro trauma to your muscle fibers. Think of these micro tears as actual cuts in the muscle fibers. When your fibers are cut, they bleed out fluid, and this fluid contains a protein called myoglobin. This protein binds onto oxygen and iron, both of which help the muscles be properly oxygenated. This myoglobin also gives the muscles their red color due to the high oxygen level it holds.
Now, micro tears aren't all that bad. It's actually to be expected whenever you work out hard. These small tears will heal and make the muscle fibers stronger!
However, if these micro tears don't heal and if they become BIGGER, then that muscle fiber (or muscle cell) will leak out a LOT of myoglobin. The muscle fiber would also be filled up with blood and other fluids and pretty much explode! Okay, you won't hear a big BOOM, but that cell will die.
If much of your muscle fibers throughout the body is severely damaged, they would all leak out myoglobin, which becomes toxic to the kidneys when the levels are too high. When all this myoglobin gathers in the kidneys, then the urine becomes brown. When you hit the bathroom, it would look like you're peeing blood.
Now remember that myoglobin binds onto oxygen AND iron. So, too much iron build-up will poison your body. All this iron could get trapped in the liver, shutting it down and making you jaundice. All this iron would also get pushed in your kidneys and shut them down. If the kidneys can't work, then other toxins in your body builds up to the point where you could die unless you get dialysis.
You see why we fitness trainers stress the importance of rest and recovery?
Working your body hard is not the problem. The problem is when you don't take adequate rest time. Let's say that you did work out HARD for two hours. Okay, no problem. If you give yourself at least 48 hours to rest, properly hydrate yourself, and eat to nourish your body, then you should be fully recovered with no problems.
Now, let's say that you've worked out HARD for two hours and don't properly hydrate yourself, then the myoglobin that's released in the body cannot easily be filtered out by the kidneys. And if you're not eating properly, your muscles cannot fully heal, and if they cannot fully heal, then they would very likely be destroyed if you don't rest.
So, how would you know if you're leading up to rhabdomyolysis? You may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- You're starting to struggle in your exercises
- You're always tired
- Your muscles are always sore
- You notice your muscles are "shrinking"
- You start dreading exercises
- You can't get a good night's rest
- Your joints start to hurt
If you start experiencing these signs and symptoms, I'd strongly advise you to stop all your exercise activity and rest. You might need to rest for a week or longer. Of course, you could always see your primary healthcare provider for medical advice.
Listen, I understand you want to strip all that fat away or get ripped. But you need to take care of your body first! You cannot rush results by killing yourself in the gym. Losing weight is not worth poisoning your body with excessive exercises. Getting ripped abs and bulging biceps aren't worth the hospital bill.