Fitness burnout can sneak up on you. No one looks forward to every workout, but most of us push through anyway knowing we’ll feel better once the blood starts pumping and endorphins surge through our veins! But, what if you’re procrastinating most days and even finding excuses not to work out? Rather than looking forward to your upcoming workout, you feel more like crawling back into bed and sleeping for an extra hour. You don’t feel as energetic or motivated as you once did.
It’s normal for exercise motivation to ebb and fall based on what else is happening in your life. If your stress level is high and you’re not sleeping enough, it’s natural to not feel as excited about an upcoming sweat session. But, it’s important to listen to your body and make changes if you’re finding excuses not to work out. Don’t let burnout turn into dropout. Here are 6 tips for avoiding that burned out feeling.
Periodize Your Workouts to Avoid Burnout
What is periodization? It’s a way to structure your workouts so that you vary the stress you place on your body and the type and intensity of training. Without going into detail, it divides training into cycles consisting of microcycles, mesocycles, and macrocycles. During these cycles, you alter the training variables to achieve one focused objective for that cycle. For example, during one cycle you might emphasize muscle endurance and in another muscle strength. Because you’re varying your training at set intervals, you have periods where you work harder than others. So, your muscles get a chance to recover. Periodization also adds variety to your training, so you don’t become bored or burned out. Best of all, some studies show periodized training schemes delivers better results than non-periodized ones.
Keep a Fitness Journal
Fitness journals are one of the best tools for boosting motivation. It’s easy to get off track and lose focus when you’re holding yourself accountable and when you’re not seeing results. Writing in a fitness journal gives you a record of where you came from and where you’re going. You can look back through it and celebrate your victories and see where and how you need to change your approach. This constant feedback can help you stay motivated and avoid burnout. Also, add motivational quotes and mantras to your fitness journal. Read them each day and repeat them when you train. Be sure to get a big fitness journal! You’re in it for the long haul!
Don’t Advance Your Training Too Quickly
Trying to do too much too quickly is a motivation destroyer. Studies show humans aren’t good multi-taskers either. So, stay focused. Of course, you want to see results quickly but advancing your training too quickly can lead to overreaching and burnout. Nothing shatters good intentions and motivation more than an injury!
As a general rule, don’t increase the resistance you use by more than 10% at one time. Practice the same rule with volume. Don’t boost your volume of training by more than 10%. Monitor how you feel after a workout. If you’re wiped out, you’re pushing yourself too hard and need to take a day or two off or decrease the intensity or volume of your workouts.
Vary the Type of Cardio You Do To Stay Motivated
Of the various types of workouts, cardio is the easiest for most people to burn out from, especially if you do the same exercises each time. Don’t give yourself the chance to get bored! Mix up the types of cardio that you do and don’t define cardio too narrowly. A circuit workout where you’re constantly changing exercises keeps things fresh and still gets your heart rate up.
Doing too much cardio is also a motivation slasher. Try high-intensity interval training as a substitute for some of your cardio sessions. Due to its more intense nature, you can get fitness benefits while keeping your workouts short. Experiment and see what keeps you motivated, and don’t forget to shake things up every few weeks by taking a different approach to boosting your heart rate.
Get the Basics Right
You’re less likely to get burned out from exercise if you take care of your body. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep nightly, so you aren’t forcing your body to train when you’re fatigued. Fuel up before a workout, particularly a high-intensity one, and drink enough water too. Even mild dehydration boosts fatigue and makes a workout feel harder. Change the tunes you play when you work out. Some studies show music reduces the perception of how hard you’re working. So, your workout might feel easier if you have upbeat music playing in the background.
Keep Your Workouts Balanced
You might prefer to do a certain type of training, such as strength training over cardio, but a balanced fitness program will pay off with better fitness and functionality. Ideally, include exercises that improve strength, power, endurance, flexibility, agility, and balance. Each has its own unique benefits. No doubt, we need strength, power, and endurance, but balance training helps stabilize your movements and reduce the risk of injury. Flexibility can help you with strength training by improving joint range-of-motion.
If you improve all of these areas of fitness, you’ll be your most functional and will be able to perform better when you play a variety of sports. There may be one particular skill you want to emphasize the most and a larger percentage of your training should focus on that. But don’t neglect other aspects of fitness either. Varying the type of training gives you new challenges and that helps keep burnout at bay.
The Bottom Line
Too many people drop out of fitness training before they ever reap the benefits. Don’t let that happen to you! Use these tips to avoid burnout when you train and to make your workouts more pleasant as well.
· American Council on Exercise. “Periodized Training and Why It Is Important”
· Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33, 635–643.