When committing yourself to a new lifestyle, or managing the commitments a current one, its likely you will experience a form of burnout.
Exercise burnout is a common phenomenon that stems from the overuse of certain exercises or working out in general. It can present itself in a variety of physical and mental ways including reduced performance, fatigue, and a lack of motivation.
However, it should not be completely surprising if it occurs, especially if you are ramping up the amount of exercise you are doing. Burnout is completely normal and, in some cases, such as training for a marathon, extremely difficult to avoid.
Here I’ve summarised some key steps to take when suffering from exercise burnout:
Set realistic goals
One of the key contributors to burnout can be setting your goals and expectations too high. Having an unattainable goal can push you to overwork in the gym leading to general physical fatigue that can lead to burnout. However, it can also lead to reduced motivation if your goals are impossible to reach or you don’t have a clear path to achieve tangible success.
Setting yourself clear goals and an achievable timeframe to meet them will reduce the likelihood of mental fatigue. It will also reduce the likelihood of physical burnout that can occur when trying to achieve loftier, unattainable goals.
Change your regime
Your workout regime should be tailored to your own personal goals and abilities whilst pushing you to work hard in the areas you are targeting. However, as a healthy lifestyle demands consistency, sticking to the same exercises within a regime can lead to burnout.
Tweaking your workouts is a fantastic way to keep gym sessions fresh and avoid this. For example, changing exercises to still hit the same areas but in a different way means you will not have to sacrifice your goals whilst still reducing the likelihood of burnout. Alternatively, you can add another dimension to your workout through cardio such as rowing, cycling or treadmill running to break up the monotony of your regime.
Listen to your body
The best way to avoid burnout is to steer clear of it before it sets in. Your body knows when it is working too hard or too often, and it will let you know. Listening to your body and staying aware of any impending issues will give you time to make the changes needed to avoid it.
Alternatively, if you are currently experiencing burnout, you may want to continue and push through it. However, your body is often telling you that it is burnt out for good reason. Overworking can lead to injury, so if your body says that something is not right with your regime, you should take caution.
Love what you do
Whilst burnout is partially a result of fatigue, a lot of it can stem from falling out of love with what you are doing. Whether that is falling out of love with the exercises, the goal, or the form of exercise, ensuring you are enjoying what you are doing is key.
One of the best ways to deal with the mental aspect is to make sure you are starting your workout excited to get it done and also feeling great afterwards. To do this, find what you like, find what pushes you and avoid putting your body and mind through the unnecessary stress of exercising when it is not what makes you happy.
Whilst expected at times, burnout is not the be all and end all of your health and fitness. It can be avoided entirely and managed if stumbled into. Whether it is through listening to your body before it happens, making better decisions about your health and fitness or reassessing your current lifestyle choices, there are a myriad of ways that burnout can be dealt with.
This is a collaborative post.