If some exercise is good, then lots of exercise is better right? Not always. If you’re constantly sore and have muscle pain, you may be over-training.
Television weight-loss programs and professional sports all influence our thinking that we need to push ourselves to exhaustion, to the point of almost passing out or vomiting. The bottom line is exercise should decrease stress in our bodies and minds, not add stress to our lives. Exercise should make us feel good, strong and empowered, not exhausted, sick and sore. True wellness is balanced, sustainable, suitable and appropriate long term adherence to healthy living. Avoid workout burnout by paying attention to the following:
Exercise Volume. There may also be a time when exercising volume builds. For example, training for an event where your running miles are up or total hours spent exercising during the week are rivaling that of your work schedule. Does this mean that all high volume exercise is bad? No, absolutely not! High volume should mean you’re training for an event or competition that is requiring exceptional hours of practice perfecting one mode of exercise. However, you must cycle your volume or else become injured or burn out physically and mentally.
Work in Periods. The key to prevent over training is to work in periods of time or weeks, months or such. Constantly manipulating your work and rest ratio prevents over training. For example, alternating weeks of high intensity workouts with restorative or meditative workouts, or if you’re training for a running event, three weeks building miles, followed by one week of half the miles allows your body to absorb the miles and training. Paying attention to how you’re feeling on a consistent basis is still paramount to safety, effectiveness and sustainability of your health and wellness program. So, how do you know when your work to rest ratio or intensity to rest ratio is out of sync?
If you’re constantly sore or feeling exhausted, it may be time to give your body (and just as importantly, your mind) a break. Have you been catching more colds than usual this year? Have you been suffering from lots of low grade and nagging injuries, pulls and tweaks here and there recently? If you’ve been feeling irritable or even a little depressed that’s not usually the case for your personality, time to reduce intensity, duration or frequency of your workout routine. According to the National Institute of Health, these are all physical and psychological signs of over-training.
Log Workouts! Tracking how you’re feeling is as easy as keeping a log of your workout progress of reps, sets, and weight amount, just simply add a symbol or notation if you’re feeling refreshed, exhausted, energized, drained, etc. If you’re seeing a trend of exhaustion, sickness, injury and fatigue, these are the warning signs that it’s time to re-evaluate your approach. Unfortunately, we’re often programmed to think all workouts have to be 100-percent all out, the highest intensity possible, the most volume your body can take until it’s shaking with borderline injury to be effective, but science (and common sense) tells us that’s not the case. Science also tells us that our body comes back stronger, more powerful and healthier with adequate rest. Be smart and listen to your body. You’ll be healthier and happier for it.