By Megan Johnson McCullough

Such an interesting name for a condition, but Rhabdomyolysis is a very serious diagnosis that can happen on one’s fitness journey. Many of today’s trending training modules include high intensity and high-volume movements- and put you at a higher risk of overtraining.

Program design consists of how many and how fast. This approach is popular because it’s stimulating with variety and there is little lag time. Cardio and strength knocked out in the same workout is appealing as this is time efficient and challenging. The return of investment is high. But the risks of a killer workout all in one may “outweigh” the benefits.



Rhabdomyolysis is a very serious condition that is characterized by the breakdown of muscle tissue that causes the release of muscle fiber contents to be released into the blood. This is very harmful for the kidneys. Our kidneys filter the waste products of our blood, and the toxic muscle fiber accumulation is a difficult task for the kidneys to dispose of. Workout goers like to feel the burn, love soaking in sweat, and feel a sense of accomplishment after a solid session. But overtraining or overexerting yourself is not the remedy for lasting, sustainable results without injury or failure.

This condition means that your muscle is breaking down faster than it can repair. One will experience extreme muscle cramps and fatigue. Taking in excess water or electrolytes isn’t enough to assist this problem. The kidneys can’t flush all the contents out. This is serious: we’re talking about possibly having to hook up to an IV to flush the excess protein out of the blood before it reaches the kidneys and causes further damage.

Do I Have It? – The Symptoms

Symptoms may vary, but the main areas that feel pain are the shoulders, thighs, and low back. The body starts to feel extremely weak and just moving the arms and legs become hard. The cramps can be debilitating. That little urine one can excrete becomes dark red or even brown.

Health risks

Problems can arise with the liver when one is overtraining. One can develop an irregular heart-beat, and of course kidney damage can occur. If any of the signs or symptoms arise, heading to the doctor is important. From there, blood tests for creatine kinase, which is a product of muscle breakdown, and urine tests for myoglobin (blood that is released from damaged muscles), can help diagnose rhabdomyolysis.

Don’t Over-Do It

Exercise addicts sometimes are not aware they’re over-doing it. The endorphins of a killer workout are like a drug. Repeated movement patterns put wear and tear on the body. After all, when we work out we break down muscle fibers and it is the repair through hypertrophy that we see later results. However, if the body isn’t given that window of time to repair, the breakdown is continuous. Incorporating a rest day as well and understanding the pros and cons of what you are doing, are all important understandings you must have when you sign yourself up.

Pace yourself, listen to your body, and although it is great to compete with yourself and others, make fitness a lifestyle habit and journey. Don’t compromise the here and now for the long haul. When a doctor writes a prescription for “No Exercise”, maybe the wake-up call will be too late. Healthy habits don’t involve a scary diagnosis, and overtraining is an easy one to avoid!