Generally, when body image is discussed, the conversation centers on women. There is good reason for this; women are disproportionately affected by media images and messages concerning what body type is "ideal," and their bodies are more frequently and obviously objectified. However, this should not lead men to think they’re in the clear. Society presents an "ideal" male body type as well, characterized by bulging muscles and a V-shaped torso. Some men struggle to attain to this ideal, hitting the gym hard nearly every day, pushing their bodies to grow bigger and stronger. While exercise - both cardiovascular and strength-building - is important for overall health, overtraining can be devastating to physical and mental well-being; it can even negatively impact penis health. That’s why it’s important for men to be aware of overtraining syndrome, and to take steps to avoid it.

Overtraining Syndrome

One of the primary components of overtraining syndrome is an increase in cortisol, the body’s stress hormone that is released by the adrenal cortex. It is tasked with breaking down protein and fats to convert them into energy sources.

Men who overtrain may exhibit the following symptoms due to excess cortisol and other factors:

- Fatigue

- Decreased physical performance

- Altered resting heart rate/blood pressure

- Aches and pains

- Insomnia

- Reduced muscular strength (as cortisol breaks down protein)

- Reduced appetite

- Headaches

- Gastrointestinal upset

- Sexual performance problems

- Psychological symptoms (e.g. depression)

Overtraining is counterproductive, as it actually weakens the body; it’s also hazardous to overall health.

Cortisol and Testosterone

Cortisol appears to have an inverse relationship with testosterone; when levels of one are high, levels of the other are low. Low levels of testosterone are likely responsible for many of the sexual symptoms men who overtrain experience. These include:

- Reduced amount of ejaculate

- Reduced sex drive

- Weak orgasms

- Weak erections

- Full erectile dysfunction

Low testosterone levels can also lead to some of the symptoms above, including depression and reduced muscle strength. Additional symptoms include hot flashes, breast development, reduced bone mass and hair loss.


Recovering from overtraining syndrome first requires rest. A man needs to give his body time to rejuvenate; strength and performance actually improve when the body is resting.

Second, an overtrained man needs to do some serious reworking of his fitness regimen. Shorter sessions, less frequent sessions and/or lower-intensity workouts need to replace his former dangerous routine.

Third, and no less important, a man should do some personal work to combat the body image issues that may have encouraged him to harm himself through exercise. Talking with a counselor or psychologist and researching media distortions of the male body can help men not only avoid overtraining in the future, but develop a healthier sense of self and more confidence.

A man can supplement these imperative measures with extra steps to decrease his cortisol levels. One of the most important to take is stress reduction. Talk therapy, massage therapy and relaxation training (such as meditation, deep breathing or guided imagery) can all help a man reduce his overall stress levels, thereby encouraging cortisol levels to decrease. In addition, he may boost his testosterone levels by eating plenty of zinc, which is found in oysters, lamb, lean beef, wheat germ and spinach.

Maintaining Penis Health

Overtraining is bad for penis health. Along with keeping the exercise to a reasonable level, men can promote penile health by using a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) packed with nutrients to promote smooth skin, proper circulation and plenty of sensitivity. Men who use such a product can feel extra confident in what they’re packing. In addition, lovers likely care far more about a healthy manhood than gargantuan muscles. Men can give the weights a rest, lather on some cream and enjoy what nature gave them.