The is a FINE FINE line between balance and burnout. We all experience these things in our life. From being overwhelmed at work then that overflows into your daily life. The one thing you DO have control over is what you do in terms of your training and keeping yourself healthy and happy doing it. Far too many times, people are 100% FULL throttle from the start for about 1 month (if they make it that long) until 1 of 2 things happens.
Both of these things can send you two places backwards and not in the optimal place for linear growth. All coaches want their clients to improve in a linear fashion. Slow and steady! This will prevent injury and also prevent number 2 on the list witch is burnout. Burnout occurs for many people who do not allow themselves a break. Yes training is great, but too much of a good thing can also backfire. You need to make sure your paying close attention to your body and mind to reduce the stress of over training. Here are a few of the common signs that you might be heading into that direction with your training !
You repeatedly fail to complete your normal workout. I’m not talking about normal failure. I’m talking failure to lift the weights you usually lift, run the hill sprints you usually run, and complete the hike you normally complete. Regression. If you’re actively getting weaker, slower, and your stamina is deteriorating despite regular exercise, you’re probably training too much. However this isn’t the same as deloading. Pushing yourself to higher weights and failing at those is a normal part of progression, but if you’re unable to lift weights that you formerly handled with relative ease, you may be overtrained.
If losing fat was as easy as burning calories by increasing work output, overtraining would never result in fat gain – but that isn’t the case. It’s about the hormones. Sometimes, working out too much can actually cause muscle wasting and fat deposition. You’re “burning calories,” probably more than ever before, but it’s predominantly glucose/glycogen and precious muscle tissue. Net effect: you’re getting less lean. The hormonal balance has been tipped. You’ve been overtraining, and the all-important testosterone:cortisol ratio is lopsided. Generally speaking, a positive T:C ratio means more muscle and less fat, while a negative ratio means you’re either training too much, sleeping too little, or some combination of the two. Either way, too much cortisol will increase insulin resistance and fat deposition, especially around the midsection. Have you been working out like a madman only to see your definition decrease? You’re probably overtraining.
The odd genetic athlete could conceivably lift heavy, sprint fast, and engage in metabolic conditioning nearly every day of the week and adequately recover, without suffering ill effects. Most people who maintain such a hectic physical schedule will not recover (especially if they have a family and/or a job). Performance will suffer, health will deteriorate, and everything they’ve worked to achieve will be compromised.
The first way is to employ active rest. This term is thrown around a lot, but misunderstood most of the time. The operative word here is still REST. Going for a 5 mile run is not active rest. Going for a 5 mile walk would be. You want to avoid elevating your heart rate too much and definitely not put any serious strain on your joints or connective tissues. Light stretching, corrective exercise programs, low impact activities like biking or swimming… these would all be appropriate.
Another way to attack a de-load week is to play some sports for fun. Games that aren’t too hard on the body are ideal—think golf, large group volleyball, paddle boarding, playing h-o-r-s-e, etc. This is a way to keep your body moving, which is key, but not require it to dip into its energy reserves.
You need to give your body time to rest and recover to train at an optimal level ! Do not fear a de-load week, embrace it and do something fun with your time AWAY from the gym !