Yes, you can workout too much. Particularly when combined with the typical demands of modern society – long commutes, stressful jobs, financial pressures, family obligations, subpar nutrition, and inadequate sleep patterns. A taxing exercise program can actually be a detriment unless it is complimented with intermittent recovery periods. Which of the following early warning signs of exercise burnout do you recognize in yourself?
1. Your numbers have not only plateaued, they have gone DOWN! If you are lifting less weight or less reps than you used to, you might be looking at burnout. If you are taking longer to complete specific drills (you are slower) then you might be looking at burnout. This is why keeping a workout journal is crucial. You can always look back at previous performance and make an educated guess about what it effecting your training.
2. You are irritable AFTER your training. I notice this one in myself more than any of the other warning signs. We all go into a workout stressed on occasion. But when after the workout you feel just as irritable as when you started, or worse – MORE irritable, you might be headed for burnout.
3. You cannot focus on the task at hand. Sure we all can get distracted from time to time in even the best of conditions (attractive members of our preferred gender in tight workout clothes tend to do that to us). But when you can’t separate your deadlift from your dry cleaning, you have a problem. Not only will your workout be complete shit, you are running the risk of injuring yourself. Speaking of injury. . .
4. You injure yourself doing a routine movement. You’ve been squatting for years without any problems and then one day on a warm up set you tweak your back. And you tweak it bad. Injuring yourself on a lift you’ve done hundreds if not thousands of times with sub-maximal loads is a sure sign that you are approaching burnout. Hell, let’s face it, you are burnt out at that point.
5. Your motivation is in the toilet. You have zero desire to exercise. You do it only because years of being in the gym have it ingrained into your very being. And worse yet, you don’t want to take the time off to get the rest you need. Just thinking about being away from the gym makes you feel guilty. As hard as it may seem, you need rest more than you need the training. Take a week off and see how refreshed you feel.
Ebbs and flows are part of the natural cycles of all life. Whether it’s the rise and fall of the tides or the wax and wane of the moon, periods of effort are always complimented by recovery in nature. Despite all of our technological advances, we humans are no different. Yes, train hard. But compliment that training with appropriate recovery periods.
What are some things you notice when approaching training overload? What do you do about it? Let me know in the comments below.