Fitness Articles

No Pain = BIG Gain

Is Your Exercise Program Wearing You Out?

973SHARES
If you have been overtraining, it’s not too late to get back on track! Follow these three steps:

1. Your first priority should be rest. Just a day or two probably won’t do it. Depending on how severely you’ve been pushing yourself, three to five days should give your body enough time to recover—both physically and mentally. 
 
2. Get plenty of sleep and make sure you’re eating well, particularly during this recovery period. Focus on getting adequate amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, and lots of fruits and veggies.
 
3. When you are ready to return to your exercise routine, start off slowly. Most research shows that it is okay to return to that same level of intensity, but you may need to cut back on the length and frequency of your workouts for the next few weeks. After that, you should be able to resume normal activities.   
 
Here are some simple things you can do to avoid overtraining and burnout: 
  • Use common sense! Work out less on days when you’re not feeling up to it. Schedule at least one or two rest days per week. Resting might mean no exercise at all, or just “active recovery,” which is light activity (an easy walk around the neighborhood, for example). Rest days should give you the feeling that you’re storing up energy. 

    When you push yourself through a high-intensity workout (cardio or strength training), tiny tears develop in your muscle fibers. Allowing your body to rest and recover for a day (or two) gives your hard working muscles time to repair those tears, and a wonderful thing happens—your muscles start to grow back stronger! Without ample recovery time, you continue breaking down the muscle fibers, and that’s when fatigue and injury can occur.
  • Incorporate a variety of activities into your exercise program. Or, if there is one thing you really enjoy, mix up your routine. Add speed or distance, increase the incline, or change your route—all of these variations can improve fitness, prevent injury, and keep your motivation high. Try different kinds of workouts within each week. For example, try an interval walking workout, a long distance walk, and a few “regular” walks at an easier speed and distance.    
     
  • Don’t do too much, too soon. Some people take the “all-or-none” approach, going from a sedentary lifestyle to exercising for 45 minutes or more, 5-6 days per week. At this rate, exercise doesn’t make you feel good like everyone says it will. You’re tired, your knees hurt, and your muscles are sore. After a week or two, it’s easy to get frustrated and want to give up. Instead, increase your workouts gradually and allow adequate recovery time to reduce these symptoms.  
     
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep. Allow for flexibility in your program. If you’re planning to walk and its 110 degrees outside, think about exercising in water, or at least avoid the heat of the day. If you’re not feeling well, give yourself a break—no guilt allowed. You may end up doing more harm than good by pushing yourself to exercise if you’re getting sick. 
Exercise should make you feel refreshed and energized—not exhausted. If it’s causing fatigue, soreness, or a feeling of utter dread, listen to your body! It may be time to make a change.
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
‹ Previous Page   Page 2 of 2  
973SHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

Connect With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • I think I needed to read this. I went from not exercising at all to doing 40-60 minutes every day. I hate taking days off, but I guess this is a good way to remind myself it's ok to take it easy some days and just take a walk instead of going on the exercise bike. - 7/23/2014 12:08:38 AM
  • TRIPLEM3
    I wish I'd read this sooner! My values of never giving up and discipline coupled with a high pain threshold, has resulted in me being badly injured and unable to do even household chores! I love exercising and the buzz I get from pushing myself, but after a month of being able to do nothing more than walk and cycle, I really wish I'd been able to rest more.. - 7/15/2014 7:35:32 AM
  • Thanks for sharing but this is not something that I'll have to worry about.
    I probably should aspire to it. :-) - 11/6/2013 5:45:18 AM
  • I definitely needed to read this - in July I started from doing NOTHING, and jumped into hitting the gym hard (twice a day, an hour each time, split between lifting and cardio), which I managed to keep up for about 9 weeks. The problem was, I was just worn the heck out. Between the increased calorie burn and the reduced calorie intake, I lost 40+ lb, which is great... but I was feeling stressed / frustrated that I wasn't losing as fast anymore, and felt that my workouts weren't paying off, *and* was starting to get down on myself for being lazy.

    I dialed back for about a week, and feel much better now. I'm still going twice-a-day during the week (lunch and evening), but weekends now have me cutting back to once a day plus doing some kind of "active recovery" (housework, walking around my neighborhood, etc.) - 9/22/2013 1:11:27 PM
  • I'm glad I read this article. My body has been hurting this week and maybe I am over doing my cardio. I did Zumba 3 days in a row but on day two my body felt REALLY tired and day three was no better. I think I am going to start doing that every other day because high intensity Zumba is kind of hard on the body and those in between days can help repair whatever is needed. - 8/30/2013 1:24:17 PM
  • I'm a sick puppy, I enjoy a little muscle soreness. I'm not talking, can't walk soreness, or even everyday soreness; just a little "Ugh" every now and then to remind me that I just did an awesome workout. - 8/30/2013 11:37:52 AM
  • This article is just in time. Yes, I will take this weekend off (after a week and a half with no breaks) and eat very well (maybe throw more veggies in the diet when I'm hungry too) and relax at the beach!

    But, Monday I will be back at it! - 8/30/2013 10:41:36 AM
  • Great article. My hubby tell me all the time that I push myself too hard. Because at nite my left hip really pain me bad. But I fell so guilty if I don't get it in. - 5/17/2013 7:17:13 PM
  • Today my legs are so sore--yesterday hamstrings, today, quads. I worked out Mon and Tuesday, rested Wed and felt better so did class yesterday and today--and now I am sore... More stretching, I guess. - 3/29/2013 5:36:30 PM
  • SARAH0204
    I BEEN GOING TO THE GYM FOR THE LAST 10 YRS AND I BURN OF 1000 CALORIES 3 TIMES A WEEK AND DAYS I NOT THERE I RUN FIVE MILES AND WALK 4 MILES 6 EVENING A WEEK, IM WONDERING IS THIS TO MUCH EXERCISE? I DO GET ANXIOUS IF I DON'T GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING - 10/11/2012 6:20:09 PM
  • This is good info.I just starte recently, haven't experienced this yet. Now I know what to do if this happens. - 9/9/2012 11:10:34 AM
  • AFUTCH04
    This was a very helpful article that helped give me insight for my plateau :) - 7/26/2012 10:03:27 AM
  • SANDIBETTS1
    Thank you for reminding us that commitment should not come with dread. - 6/26/2012 7:46:40 AM
  • I just read this article and it certainly explains why I am feeling the way I am feeling today. I just dreaded getting my bike out for another drive. I didn't want to think about walking - which I love and I didn't even want to look at an exercise video. I think I'm close to exercise burnout. I was blaming this blah feeling on food I had yesterday but maybe I am close to dropping from overexercise.
    I am going to have an offday today and see how I feel tomorrow. - 6/16/2012 10:38:50 AM
  • I personally don't think occasional weight training on consecutive days hurts anyone but I do know I used to weight train everyday as a kid and could never figure out why I was plateauing so often. - 3/26/2012 8:46:32 PM
Popular Calories Burned Searches: Walking: 3.75 mph (16 minutes per mile)  |  Walking: 3.3 mph (18 minutes per mile)  |  Walking: 3 mph (20 minutes per mile)

x Lose 10 Pounds by January 29! Get a FREE Personalized Plan