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What is the difference between the sentence "He was tired because he was exercising too hard" and "He was tired because he had been exercising too hard"?

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The first one implies he was still exercising at the time he was tired. The second implies he was tired after exercising. It's a subtle difference but it's there.

Grammatically it's the difference between past tense vs past participle, but you probably don't need to know that.

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