Does anyone else get overzealous when making a workout or training plan? I think it’s especially common this time of year to plan on doing a super intense workout every day.
It may sound like a good idea; after all, it makes sense that the more you workout, the more your fitness will improve. However, going as hard as you can every day is a good way to set yourself up for injury or burnout.
According to NASM (2014), overtraining syndrome occurs when someone is “training beyond the body’s ability to recover” and side effects may include “decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood disturbances” (p. 306).
Yikes! The quote above doesn’t even mention the increased risk for injury, including plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures, or pulled muscles. Not to mention, if your workout schedule is so intense that you can’t see yourself continuing it longterm, you put yourself at a high risk of burnout.
Remember to give your body time to rest and recover. Alternate workout types (running, strength training, Jazzercise, etc.) so you’re not repeatedly fatiguing the same muscle groups in the same way. When strength training, avoid training the same muscles on back to back days. If following a running plan, make sure to include easy days of running. For all workouts, avoid high intensity all the time; throw in some easier days. Not every workout in your week needs to be insanely tough to have a positive effect.
I can’t tell you how many rest days or how many high intensity days to have a week. It all depends on the individual, their fitness level, their workouts, their nutrition level, their age, so many factors. One person may need two full rest days a week, while another is fine with a rest day every two weeks. Listen to your body and be aware of the symptoms listed above. There’s no shame in taking a rest day-it’s good for you!
By the way, when I say rest day, it doesn’t mean a “lay on the couch and watch Netflix” day (although it definitely can sometimes!). Going for a walk or doing a relaxing yoga flow allows your body to recover while still being active.
Source: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition