So I’m writing this looking forward to 2 days off – do I feel guilty or bad about this? Hell no! I understand that rest is key in life and a necessity in any fitness program. But why do some people feel bad about skipping their workout or feel the need to punish their body?
What is overtraining or burnout? It’s when your body can’t recover from strenuous exercise which can lead to chronic fatigue. Most likely due to doing too much exercise (high volume) and not allowing for sufficient recovery. It can mean that you will see a decrease in performance and results and also start to not enjoy exercise.
symptoms can include:
- persistent muscle soreness
- Persistent fatigue
- Increase in injuries
- More susceptible to infections
Why do some people get to this stage? Exercise can be addictive. When we exercise we release chemicals as a by-product – natural endorphins and dopamine – and some people become addicted or fixated on the psychological or physical effects.
Others seem to exercise as a punishment rather than celebrating what their body can do. Maybe they are on a mission to lose weight or bulk up and think more volume will lead to quicker results or that missing a session will set them back.
Maybe you are an instructor who has built up classes quickly or taken on a lot of class covers in a short period of time leading to little or no rest. Plus maybe putting the joints and body under too much stress. Remember if you get an injury from all this, you will be out longer anyways to rehabilitate it! Or do you feel the pressure to “train for classes” and so adding too much into your weekly schedule? Yes we need to be fit for our classes but be wise about what you train when. Plus look for what exactly you need for your classes? Is it explosive fitness, more strength if so which part, is it to understand lifting techniques etc.
Or what if you’re a beginner to exercise and don’t know where to start. Without expert advice then maybe you are starting with too much too soon and overloading the body. Be careful what you read on social media.
I am by no means perfect. I have reached the fatigue stage a few times. I’ve taken on too much class covers, I’ve thought I’ve needed to strength train everywhere in a week, Ive also been addicted to crossfit. When I could buy class passes that really suited me as it kept me going just twice a week. When this option was no longer available I had to buy a monthly membership. The result is that I went too often. I wanted to get my moneys’ worth plus I didn’t want to miss out on a training day.
The result – my whole body was constantly tired and drained, I got lots of injuries and my performance levels decreased. I am no longer a member and do still struggle to motivate myself and plan my own training effectively!!! I guess I should treat myself like a client….
Anyways, what can you do when you reach burnout?
- Take a break from training to allow time to recover – this could be a complete break if possible or severe reduction.
- Reduce volume and intensity of exercise.
- Rethink your training plan – what you do, when, how much.
- Split your training where you can – different muscles and type of training on different days.
- Have balance in your program – incorporate cardio, strength, stretch and recovery days.
- Instructors this is for you – give yourself a realistic and smart class and exercise schedule. This could take time when starting out but amend accordingly. Do not teach 7 BODYATTACK classes in week or have 3 back to back BODYPUMP days. Space out your programs.
- When possible have a deep tissue or sports massage – this has been the best so far for my tennis elbow.
- Eat right. Fuel your body with all the nutrients and enough calories for your activities. Maybe you need to look at supplements.
If you incorporate these measures then typically you should start to feel better in 4-6 weeks. It depends on how much you were over training and for how long, age and genetics.
Above all else – listen to your body! You know you body the best! You may go to the gym with a plan but when you start you’re not feeling strong. That’s OK, reduce weights, adapt your plan even go home! If I’m not feeling the training session I stop! If I want some days off – I take it. I’ve also learnt to say no to cover classes sometimes.