We know what it means to keep showing up at the gym even though some days you're physically and mentally drained, and the results aren't quite showing. In some cases, you might just be having a huge week- stress at work, a busy social calendar and that neverending list of chores to complete at home. But in other cases, you might simply be overdoing it.
Exercise exhaustion, or burnout, can often be hard to notice, and it can manifest in both a physical and mental form. For example, you might be experiencing muscle pain from that next level leg session you smashed four days ago, you’ve been battling mental fog all day which has started to affect your work, and that tuna salad you had for lunch isn't hitting the spot. The gym is probably the last place you want to be. It’s easy to push past the pain, give ourselves that inspirational pep talk and get on with our fitness routine. But when you’re not feeling great, all of the time, you can start to dread workouts, which is not ideal. So, to get stronger and faster means committing to our rest and recovery as much as our training.
We’ve compiled a list of the most common physical effects and warning signs to look out for when it comes to exercise burnout. It's vital that if you have any concerns that you seek professional advice from your healthcare practitioner.
01. PHYSICAL & MENTAL FATIGUE
Do you feel tired and worn out all of the time, even after a decent night's sleep? This is often an indicator of overtraining or general burnout. A lack of energy or extreme exhaustion are the most common symptoms of exercise burnout. Mental fatigue such as lack of concentration or feeling emotionally drained are also common symptoms when it comes to exercise burnout. A lack of motivation or enjoyment from your workout can indicate that you might need to shake up your lifting routine. If you're overtraining consistently, you could start to experience CNS (central nervous system) fatigue. Chronic overtraining can begin to fatigue the central nervous system, which affects the messages your brain sends to your spinal cord obstructing your ability of freedom of movement - not what you want when you’re lifting heavy.
02. DECREASED PERFORMANCE
Feel like you're not upping your weights and hitting those PR's after weeks and weeks of continuous training? Performance plateau or even decline is another common symptom of overexercising. By not allowing enough time for muscle recovery or repair between workouts, your muscles are unable to grow and lift heavier amounts - sad gym things. If you're feeling a little slower than usual on those already awful cardio days, overexercising can also affect your reaction time and running speed.
03. MOOD CHANGES
Heavy legs and lighter weights aren’t the only ways you experience burnout. It’s important to be mindful of the signs of mental burnout just as much as the physical ones! Increased mood swings and irritability are another sign of overtraining, and it's no wonder why. While exercise releases those happy endorphins we are all addicted to, too much exercise can also start to have a reverse effect. Not only are you fatigued and not smashing your workouts, but workout burnout can impact your stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. An imbalance in these hormones can lead to brain fog, feelings of depression and mood changes.
04. DELAYED RECOVERY TIMES
Are you still feeling sore after that arm and shoulder session five days ago? This symptom is referred to as overreaching, where prolonged muscle soreness lasts for hours or days after your intense workout. This is a good sign you are over trained and aren't sufficiently recovering between sessions. Time to focus on your rest or recovery routine, so grab that foam roller and put your feet up.
05. INCREASED RESTING HEART RATE
If you're someone who loves to wear their smart or fitness watch, now is an excellent time to take note of your resting heart rate. Often, when we're overtraining and experiencing exercise burnout, our body is under so much stress that it has to work harder even to rest. Your average resting heart rate will vary for adults but should be sitting around 60 to 100 beats a minute. If you think your heart rate is abnormal for any reason, best to consult your general practitioner.
06. TROUBLE SLEEPING
Are you also having trouble getting a good night's worth of zzz's? Overexercising can disturb your sleeping pattern as your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. This simply means your body is constantly trying to provide you with the energy it requires to keep up with all the activities and stress you're asking of it.
07. DIMINISHED APPETITE
Putting in hours of exercise per day but not feeling hungry? Loss of appetite or digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea or increased thirst are other common symptoms of excessive training. It's crucial you're fuelling up on the calories your body needs to perform at its best - inside and outside the weights room.
08. WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM & IRREGULAR MENSTRUAL CYCLES
Frequent illness is another common symptom of overexercising, such as recurring colds, respiratory tract infections, or generally feeling run down. Overexercising causes your body to be in a constant state of fatigue which also means it's spending its time and energy trying to repair your muscles instead of supporting your immune system. As well as this, an irregular or complete absence of your menstrual cycle or decreased libido can be other signs of excessive exercising and further stress to the body.
HOW TO AVOID WORKOUT BURNOUT
We’re all told the same thing, but sometimes rest is just what you need to beat burnout. This may mean taking a little break for a few days, or a few weeks or just cutting back on your training until you have fully recovered. It's also vital that you listen to your body and adjust your routine to fit in the appropriate rest and recovery time. It's important that you rest and recover back to total health so you can start hitting those goals again. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from a personal trainer or fitness coach if you need help putting together a workout program that will have you progressing at a safe and attainable rate to avoid fitness burnout.
START DOING ACTIVITIES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY
Doing something you enjoy or just simply different workouts to break up your routine is the best way to keep you motivated and still moving your body - remember, it doesn't have to be intense. Whether that's walking, breaking it out in a dance class, going for a bike ride, trying yoga or perhaps swimming laps at the pool - it's a great time to find a good balance of workouts or even to simply mix it up and try something new. Alternating your easy and hard sessions a few times a week is another good way to break up your routine and give your body a well-needed break.
MAKE SURE YOU'RE EATING & DRINKING ENOUGH
Nutrition is just as important when it comes to avoiding fitness burnout. If you're putting in the hard work, you'll need to put in the fuel to get you there. Watch what you're eating, educate yourself on the types of food you should be consuming for the amount of exercise you're doing, or consult a nutritionist or dietician for professional advice for that extra bit of help. Everyone's goals and tastebuds are different, so finding what works best for you will help you feel good, full and energised. Don't be afraid to switch things up in your cooking vocabulary, so you keep things tasty and interesting.
Burnout happens to many people, but you can return to your exercise better and stronger than ever with proper recovery. After you have rested and are feeling refreshed and motivated to start moving again, the last thing you want to do is return to your routine at full speed. A good way to get back into things is to go slow with your training volume and reduce it by at least 50 to 60 per cent. If you're feeling up to it, a 10 per cent incremental increase of training per week should get you back on track safely.
TALK ABOUT IT
Find it really hard to cut back your training or can't even go a day without the gym? It might be a good idea to try and talk to a close one, your workout buddy or perhaps a healthcare professional, about why you might be feeling this way. Here at Ryderwear, we’re all about healthy muscles and healthy minds, and we believe that mental health should be one of your top priorities. Acknowledging these feelings and talking about them can be hard, but it could be the step you need to build a positive relationship with exercise.
We have the perfect activewear to help you begin your fitness journey or get your training back on track, no matter your exercise type. Whether you’re a personal trainer or just someone that likes to push heavy things around, we have the gear that will get you through your workouts in complete comfort and style.
Enjoy your workouts distraction-free at Ryderwear.
Ryderwear HQ is your lifters library of the latest training, nutrition & mindfulness insights (as well as inside looks at our latest collections).
Read More: Ryderwear HQ | Ryderwear