Weekend warriors can be tempted to make up for lost time by pushing too hard when they get into the gym. You shouldn’t end up exhausted and limping in pain after trying to cram in too much exercise too fast. You’ll reach training goals faster without risking injury if you tune in and listen to your body. These are signals you are working too hard and need to dial back on your workout. Plan on training no more than three or four days each week and schedule the remainder as rest days if:
Exercise is the entire focus of your life.
Working out too much is not just a signal you’re developing an addiction. It can also be a setup for failure. You’ll burn out if you follow a rigid exercise schedule every single day without making time for your life outside of the gym. You need a sense of balance in your life, and your body needs time off to heal properly from high-intensity exercise. You’ll reach your exercise goals faster if you add “rest days” to your training.
You work too hard after you slack off.
You’re too busy with everything else in your life. When exercise is on the back burner and you workout infrequently, you may push too hard to make up for lost time. If you try to squeeze every exercise into one occasional session, you may end up too sore to exercise for days. The key in getting up to speed is gradually increasing your workout by introducing new exercises in small, manageable bites.
Ask yourself why you can’t make time for exercise. Exercise shouldn’t be something you put off because you dread it. Find an activity you enjoy, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to it. You’ll feel better and you’ll lose stress when you make time for yourself.
Soreness is unbearable.
Do your legs ache unbearably after your morning run? Listen to your body. If soreness doesn’t ease up within a couple of days and lingers for more than a week, you may be pushing too hard. Feeling as though you can’t raise your arms after an intense workout with weights is another clue. Exercise shouldn’t leave you feeling as though you can’t move.
To avoid subjecting your body to too much too fast, break your routine down into small parts. Concentrate on improving one area—such as time or distance, weight or repetitions—instead of working them all. You’ll see strength and speed increase gradually without subjecting your body to too much all at once.
Small increments have been proven to help improve your workout performance, and they are better for your overall health.
One side hurts but not the other.
Soreness on both sides of your body indicates recovery from a workout. Pain on one side of your body doesn’t automatically indicate that you’ve injured yourself, but pain limited to a muscle group or joint on one side may indicate you should look into help to speed healing. You’ll need to give yourself time to heal and recover before you jump back into your regular workout routine.
Your program is not balanced
If you overtrain on one type of activity but neglect other movements, your body will pay. Runners who never stretch may over time suffer from tight muscles, knee pain or back pain. Weightlifters who neglect working on mobility may end up with joint pains. Yoga fans are rewarded with flexibility, but the practice doesn’t develop upper body strength.
The key to prevent these problems is balancing your training. No matter what your favorite exercise is, diversify your workouts and add elements that will do your whole body good. Work on flexibility, condition connective tissues and end workouts to strengthen large muscle groups with stretching exercises.