Be sure your fitness plan will build your body and mind, not break them down
From plateaus and overuse injuries to boredom and lack of motivation to physical and mental fatigue, workout burnout comes in many different forms. All of which can easily never happen to you—if you have the proper fitness plan, which involves more than knowing how many days a week you’ll dedicate to cardio versus weight lifting and how many minutes each session will last.
Check for these clues that your exercise regimen may cause you to go from breaking a sweat to breaking yourself, and learn what adjustments to make to ensure you never fall into a fitness funk.
A fitness habit is an excellent thing to develop—so long as it doesn’t become a set-in-stone rut. “After 12 to 16 weeks, the body will adapt to any exercise program and individuals will hit a plateau,” says Pete McCall, a San Diego-based master trainer and strength and conditioning coach. To continue moving ahead on the road to your goals, you have to bust out of your box. You can take a 180-degree shift and try that aerial yoga or sandbag class, or you can some smaller changes, McCall says, such as using free weights as opposed to weight machines, performing intervals instead of steady-state cardio, or splitting up your usual hour on the treadmill into 20 minutes each on the rowing machine, elliptical, and stair-climber.
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While working out offers a myriad of benefits, exercising excessively or at extremely high intensities won’t lead to better or faster results. “High-intensity workouts are great, however performing them day in and day out is a definite recipe for injury,” says Jodi Sussner, director of personal training and programming for Lift Brands. To strike a better balance in your workout regimen, she suggests alternating high-intensity workouts with stress-reducing activities such as yoga, Pilates, and low-impact cardio—think walking or pool-based workouts—to stay safe and enthusiastic about your exercise.
You definitely need to put in the work—but you also need to put in the rest. “It’s a hard concept for many people to grasp, but the human body performs and works better when rest is part of the fitness equation so your muscles and mind repair and recover,” says Elizabeth Kovar, a certified personal trainer and master trainer for Bosu. Recovery doesn’t mean lazing on the couch all day because you “deserve it.” Instead plan and prepare a fun leisure activity that truly piques your personal interests on your rest days.
Put in the right effort, and you should feel your exercise sessions—just not to the point where you feel like you need coffee every hour after in order to stay alert at your desk. To maintain your drive and maximize your efforts, Andrea Metcalf, a certified health coach, recommends evaluating your emotions after each workout. As you begin to grow less happy post-workout, change your routine or incorporate other types of activities to bring back that sweaty high. [Tweet this tip!]
Your motivation to put on your sports bra may vary from one day to the next, but you shouldn’t find yourself consistently hating the thought of spending one more minute exercising. If you’re forcing yourself to run on a treadmill when you’d rather be dancing, forget your running shoes and bust a move in a hip-hop dance class to get your cardio. If you’re merely going through the motions using weight machines, breathe excitement and challenge into your strength training by trying CrossFit or bootcamp. There’s no shortage of ways to rekindle your love affair with fitness, and one of the easiest ways to discover something new is to recruit a workout buddy to help you expand your exercise repertoire and reignite your passion, says Franklin Antoian, a certified personal trainer and founder of the online personal training website iBodyFit.com.
When you combine a highly stressed, constantly on-the-go type of lifestyle with extreme physical activity, the end result is a lack of energy as opposed to a balancing of it, Kovar says. To get a better gauge for what type of activity best serves you, take advantage of technology. “Use a heart rate monitor that individually rates how hard you should train each day based on your day-to-day stress and heart rate levels,” she recommends. “The devices tell you if it’s a day to train hard, take it easy, or rest.” Think of it like a financial advisor, except that instead of helping you balance your budget, it helps you balance cardio, strength, and mind-body exercise to develop your personal best training program. Kovar likes those with Smart Coaching technology, such as the Polar Loop.
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In order to beat burnout, workouts need to do more than challenge your body—they need to open your mind and feed your spirit. Lee Jordan, a certified personal trainer and health coach based in Jacksonville, FL, encourages clients to step out of their comfort zones and learn a new skill or activity, such as slack lining, to strengthen the mind and body at the same time. You can also give your routine some much-needed rejuvenation by exploring ways to give back while getting fit. “Feed your spirit by volunteering, invigorating and energizing yourself by running to raise money for a good cause or walking shelter animals that are in need,” Jordan suggests. There are also an increasing number of gyms and studios that donate money to charities for classes you take or miles you spin, so research what’s offered in your city.