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How Much is TOO Much? A Simple Guide to Avoid Workout Burnout

By on December 8, 2012

One of the main causes I’ve seen (and experienced) for abandoning a workout routine before it becomes a habit is being far too overzealous far too soon. Your body needs time to adjust to new activity, but even for seasoned fitness-minded individuals, you have to also keep in mind that your body is always going to need rest as well. Most of the benefits your body experiences from exercise takes place while you are NOT exercising… a good bit of those benefits actually are taking place while you’re asleep! Here are some simple guidelines to follow that will help you avoid getting burned out from your exercise routine:

  1. Be Reasonable!
    You can’t expect your body to magically adapt to an entirely new lifestyle. When you start out, realize that the best way to get fit is to start small and start challenging your body gradually so that it has time to adjust. It’s great to start a new workout routine — it’s great to introduce new exercises and continuously push yourself. It’s wonderful to keep your body guessing and not to settle into doing one thing at one particular level. These are the ways your body will grow stronger, get better. That being said, these changes can’t take place over night and you can’t expect something from your body that you haven’t allowed it to build up to.
  2. Be Aware!
    Listen to your body. There are simple signs that you need to give yourself a break, such as muscle soreness that won’t seem to go away, constantly feeling drained or tired rather than noting an increase in energy. If you experience discomfort, strain, fatigue, or prolonged tenderness you may need to take it back a notch. There are scientific reasons for feeling this way — when your body is overworked and doesn’t have sufficient resources (like rest, nutrition, or physical capacity) to maintain a certain activity level, your brain will send signals to the body to not support it any further. Be aware of what your body is telling you — and LISTEN to it.
  3. Be Responsible!
    When you’re focused on a goal, there are times when you can end up being your own worst enemy. You want something so badly that you’ll do anything to get it… but you have to do it responsibly and understand that just like there are laws to keep us responsible and inhibit us from using damaging means to get something we want, your body needs you to understand that there need to be rules in place to keep you from using damaging means to get something you want from it as well.
  4. Be Careful!
    Injuries are no fun, obviously, but they can be quite common when you aren’t careful with your body. Stretching before and after a workout is just as important to your body as the workout itself. Likewise, if your body isn’t accustomed to moving a certain way, start slowly and work into things carefully rather than shocking your body and risking pulling — or worse yet, tearing — your muscles. Warming up prior to a workout is essential to keep your body safe and allow it to support the movements of each exercise.
  5. Be Consistent!
    You cannot force your body to maintain a fragmented workout schedule. If you are only working out sporadically, your body is never really going to get used to what you’re doing. Even if you have to follow some of the advice I gave in “HOW TO: Work In Working Out — Tips to Fit Fitness Into a Hectic Schedule” make sure that you are developing some consistency so that even if your body doesn’t know when or what, at least is ready for some type of activity on a regular basis.
  6. Be Patient!
    I can’t stress this enough — do not push your body too hard too fast! Don’t attempt to lose weight by crash dieting and overworking because you will cause your body to begin working against you in order to compensate for what you’re stripping from it. Don’t work your body without resting your body. Don’t burn your body’s fuel without refueling it. Keep your goals more health-focused than weight-focused… if you’re looking great and feeling terrible, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice and eventually, the longer you keep it up, the more your looks will start to reflect how you feel.

How do you decide when enough is too much? I’d love to hear your experience or thoughts on workout burnout in the comments below!

About Kat Robertson

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