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6 Signs You’re Suffering From Exercise Burnout—And How To Shake It Off

If you’re feeling a bit more tired, sluggish, or simply less motivated to work out than usual, you may have exercise burnout. Yup, just like you can get burnt out by other areas of your life, like work and family responsibilities, you can find yourself feeling just completely done as a result of your workout routine.

Exercise burnout is equal parts physical and emotional, according to strength coach and chiropractor Allen Conrad, D.C., C.S.C.S., owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in Pennsylvania. Typically, it involves both overtraining, which occurs when your body becomes unable to recover from the continuous stress of a demanding exercise routine, and feelings of frustration or overwhelm that swell up when you struggle to achieve your fitness goals or keep up with a rigorous regimen.

“Exercise burnout describes the stress of continuous or ongoing exercise,” says Canada-based trainer and sports nutritionist Alicia Jones, N.C.C.P. “With exercise burnout, you might feel resentful, upset, or fatigued at even the idea of working out.”

Don’t worry, you can totally bounce back from exercise burnout—but first, you have to honor what the burnout is trying to tell you in the first place: that you may need to take a step (or a few) back in order to ultimately continue to take steps forward in your fitness journey. Here, the pros break down some of the biggest warning signs that you’re heading straight for exercise burnout (or that you’ve already arrived), as well as their best tips for getting back into your groove.

1. You’re fatigued all the time

Being tired sometimes is one thing, but if you find that you’re feeling exhausted nearly every day despite getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, it may be because you’re suffering from exercise burnout. “You may notice that you’re never truly feeling recovered from your workouts—not just physically but also mentally—which may be one of the reasons you have very little energy or desire to do them,” explains doctor of nutrition Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., owner of eatrightfitness. “When these signs manifest, it is time to take a break or at a minimum, change up your exercise routine.” 

Read More: 6 Ways You’re Unknowingly Zapping Your Energy

When you notice this, consider taking a rest day or opting to exercise outside, which can be quite refreshing and may even improve your energy, Adams suggests. Then, reevaluate how you’re feeling and what kind of training will feel good for your body next.  

2. You’re especially achy after your workouts

A few aches and pains here and there post-workout are not uncommon, especially if you trained particularly hard or tried something new. But If you’re experiencing unexplained pain or discomfort after your workouts, it may indicate that you have overtrained, which can lead to burnout over time, warns Bill Daniels, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., founder of Beyond Fitness. “Your brain uses pain as a way to get you to change your behavior—and, in this case, your brain might be telling you that you are in need of a change, whether that’s more recovery time or switch-up in your routine.” 

In addition to making sure you’re taking the proper time (ideally five to 10 minutes) to stretch and cool down after your workouts to reduce the risk of pain and injury, consider taking more active recovery days, which help you maintain the physical and mental balance you need to carry on with an exercise routine long-term.

3. You dread working out

Shifting from planning your day around your workouts and making them an important and established part of your routine to finding every excuse not to do them or scheduling other things in their place definitely suggests you’re burnt out, Adams warns. “Quick actions to help include changing the location of your workouts, reevaluating your goals and reasons why you are exercising in the first place, and even creating new goals to give your programs a fresh outlook and purpose,” he says.

4. You keep getting sick or injured

A classic sign of overtraining syndrome (which is the physical side of exercise burnout that occurs when you exercise too often at intensities that are too high) is an increase in the amount and frequency of injuries you experience. You may also notice that you’re getting sick more often. “As you overtrain, your immune system and physical body suffer, leading to illness and injuries that may force you to take a rest,” says Adams. If you notice increased sickness or injury, take them seriously; these are signs to back off, not to push through.

5. You do the same kind of movement on repeat

Even if you’re a diehard fan of a certain workout, whether it’s yoga or long-distance running, doing the same activity day in and day out without any breaks can very quickly lead to burnout, warns Jones. While you might be enjoying running every day right now, it’s safe to assume that your routine will eventually become monotonous and boring (and that your gains stall). 

Read More: Why You Gains Have Stalled On 4 Key Strength Exercises

Whether you’re already sick of repeating the same workout or not, start mixing up your training routine now. For example, if running is your primary workout, try incorporating strength training or yoga a few days of the week in its place so that you’re working different muscle groups and giving yourself a mental respite from the same daily grind, Jones suggests. 

6. You’re more irritable than usual

The saying may go that “endorphins make people happy,” but if you’re in a state of workout burnout, you might find that you’re on edge more often than usual and have a shorter temper with the people in your life for no tangible reason. This typically indicates that you’re feeling overworked and over-expended, explains Conrad. “Part of this could be because you feel frustrated that you aren’t able to achieve your previous workout goals, and don’t understand why,” he says. “This can ultimately affect your desire to keep working out, which is why it’s important to identify exercise burnout early on so you don’t lose all interest and stop exercising entirely.” Remember, a workout routine is only as beneficial as it is consistent over time, so focus on the long game here!

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