Overcome exercise burnout

by Josh Wakerman on Thursday 12 October 2017

5 min read

We need to think about exercise as a long-term relationship, not just a fling. Keeping a healthy, loving relationship with your workouts is key. But, if you’re feeling like there’s been too much tension lately, you may be experiencing exercise burnout. 

Is that even a thing? Yes, yes it is.

Exercise burnout can be either physical or mental, and if you’re feeling both, then it’s time to make a change.  But don’t think that burnout only happens to those hard-core trainers – even if you are new to fitness, you could still find yourself burning out if you don’t have the right information.  

So, let's jump into it (but not too aggressively, if you’re already feeling quite sore).

How can you tell if you’re burnt out?

You’re mentally over-it: We’ve all been there. Doing the same workout plan week after week gets old very quickly.   

You’re feeling a little off your game: While it’s easy to know if you‘re mentally over it, it’s sometimes hard to tell that our bodies just aren’t coping.  If your body is trying to tell you it’s all too much, you might be noticing that you’re:

  • Not performing well in your workouts
  • Constantly feeling sore or tired
  • Often getting sick
  • Feeling down
  • Not sleeping well

So, how do you overcome exercise burnout?

Firstly, it’s important to know that preventing exercise burnout is preferable than working backwards. And secondly, don’t beat yourself up!  It’s very common to over-do it.  

Here are a few tips to get you feeling refreshed and ready to get over that burnout:


Rest: You might think this is a no-brainer, yet people still get it wrong.  To put it simply - if you exercise (put your body under stress), your body needs to recover. If your body doesn’t recover and you do more exercise, you’ll be putting your body under more stress.   

But here’s the thing; not giving yourself enough recovery time won’t make you any stronger - it will probably just make you even more sore.   

Stay active: Huh? Okay, this sounds pretty counter-intuitive, but it's not in the way you think - We're talking about active recovery.  As soon as people hear the word 'rest' day, many will interpret it as a marry-your-couch-for-the-weekend-and-watch-netflix-all-day kind of situation.  Not exactly the best kind of recovery. Research shows that doing light exercise can do wonders for your body and your mind.  

And while the go-to recovery class is often Yoga… it’s not the only answer. Changing up one of your gym sessions for an outdoor bike ride or walk could give your muscles (and your mind!) that weekend away it truly deserves.

Keep it interesting

Changing your routine: It's fairly obvious that our minds can get bored easily, this isn't news to anyone - but our bodies can get bored just as easily. Any professional trainer will tell you that your body can adapt to certain workout routines after 4-6 weeks.  Even athletes have a diverse training schedule.  

So, not only can changing your workout routines keep your mind active, you can also help overcome that physical plateau.

It's all about balance: Yes, balance is all the rage right now, but it's because it's true!  Keeping a good balance between types of workouts within your workout plan will actually help you stay interested for longer.   

Repetition is good in small doses, but remember, you’re not a robot and that’s okay!  Don’t expect your body to stay interested in the same movements months down the track.  

Burnout is never easy, so if you can avoid it; you’re on the right path. But if you’re feeling like you and exercise just aren’t getting along like you used to, it might be time to have a chat, and put some good habits in place.

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