How to Know When It’s Time to Take a Break
Let’s face it, there are days when the last thing you want to do is workout. Yes- even I have those days, and most of the time you just get your butt to the gym. 🙂 But sometimes you should rest, and with exercise extremes like Crossfit and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) becoming more common, overtraining and injury is a real risk.
So when should you push yourself and when should you rest? That is the million dollar question… and one I hope to answer today.
Are You a Beginner?
No one likes to consider themselves a novice at anything, ESPECIALLY when it comes to fitness related activities…. But to avoid injury it is important that we understand what level we are currently at. Just because you have worked out in the past does not mean that you should jump back into things at the intensity level you left. “Detraining” can happen in as little as 2 weeks of stopping an activity, so just because you ran a half marathon 2 years ago does not mean that you should go out and run 6 miles when it’s time to start running again. Plan to give your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments time to adjust to the demand your placing on it.
If you’ve been training for less than 2 months consistently at the activity of choice (be it running, weight lifting etc.) you should consider yourself a beginner again, at least at first. Start yourself at 2-3 sessions per week and if week 1 is super easy, do 3-4 sessions the next week. Hold yourself at 4 sessions per week until 2 months have passed and bring yourself up to 5 sessions per week. See my articles on strength training and cardiovascular training or for more information.
10 Signs You’re at Risk for Overtraining
1. You’re exercising too much for your current level of fitness.
2. You’re feeling restless and and have low quality of sleep.
3. You repeatably fail to complete your workout.
4. You’re not losing body fat despite an effective nutrition and exercise plan. (Assuming you have body fat to lose)
5. You’re doing heavy lifting or very intense exercise (HIIT intervals, or long distance endurance) more than 4 days per week.
6. You’re performance is decreasing.
7. Your resting blood pressure and heart rate are increasing.
8. You’re constantly sick and feeling run down.
9. You have little to no desire to workout most days of the week.
10. You’re sleeping less than 8 hours per night.
5 Tips for Avoiding Burn Out
1. Decide on a goal and have a proven plan to meet that specific goal.
2. Choose only 1 goal to work on at a time and tailor your exercise and nutrition appropriately. For example, if your goal is fat loss, choose a program that is designed to help you lose fat. If running a marathon is your goal, choose a program designed for long distance endurance.
3. Choose 3-4 goals per year and rotate them quarterly. Too often people try to run or build muscle all year round and end up injured or mentally exhausted. Varying your exercise throughout the year will keep things fresh & fun.
4. Take at least 1-2 days COMPLETELY OFF from working out per week.
5. Incorporate recovery measures like foam rolling, massage, epsom salt baths, and proper nutrition to maximize recovery between your workout sessions.
As you can see, there is a difference between the occasional lack of motivation and full blown overtraining. At the end of the day, only you know what is best for you. Listen to the signals that your body sends you and don’t beat yourself up if you have to take it down a notch. Remember, consistency in your exercise and eating habits is the most important factor for your overall health. Treat your body right and it will take care of you forever.
Change Your Eating Habits, Change Your Life
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photo credit: Bushy parkrun 27th September 2014 via photopin (license)