When you begin a new workout routine, it can be tempting to hit the ground running (literally) and constantly work to push yourself to the next level. While a boost of motivation is a good thing, it’s also very possible that you could be doing too much. There’s a point where intense workouts can have diminishing returns, and maybe even harm your body. Rest days are important - sufficient recovery helps our bodies become stronger and more fit, so you need to make sure you’re not pushing yourself to the max every single day.
But how do you know if you’re pushing too hard? Here are a few signs:
- Chest pains or shortness of breath. This is an extreme example, but is a major indicator that you need to scale back and talk with a doctor about your routine. If you ever feel shortness of breath or chest pain while you’re working out, stop what you’re doing immediately and seek medical attention.
- Injury. Injuries are often the result of overtraining or muscle imbalances. When you have muscle imbalances this can alter your movement patterns to compensate and can lead to injury. Make sure you’re training your entire body to promote muscle stability. Overuse injuries occur when you’re consistently depending on the same muscle groups and don’t allow adequate recovery time.
- Symptoms of overtraining. Our bodies try to alert us when we’re doing too much. Symptoms of overtraining might include an elevated heart rate, muscle soreness that lingers, a decline in performance, fatigue, and decreased appetite.
- Loss of enthusiasm. When you start to dread your workouts, it’s a red flag that you’re doing too much (or doing the wrong workout for you). If you’re doing workouts you love and taking time to recover adequately, you should look forward to your next sweat session. If you’re dreading it, this is a sign to take a step back or switch things up.
To keep your routine moderate and sustainable, consider these tips:
- If it’s not something you’d want to do forever, don’t make it part of your routine. Whenever you begin a new training method or class, make sure that it’s something you can see yourself doing for the long haul.
- Get adequate sleep and recovery time. This is how our muscles are able to repair and grow back even stronger. Make sure that you’re including 1-2 days of full rest each week or restorative activities like yoga, stretching, walking, a nap, bath, anything that makes you feel replenished.
- Switch things up with alternate workout intensities. Make sure that you’re including a couple of low-impact or low intensity workouts each week like easy steady state cardio, swimming, cycling, yoga, barre, or Pilates.