I’m a huge advocate for fitness and the importance of consistent exercise for our physical and mental health, but sometimes we can overdo it. Whether you’re committed to a program and you want to stick to it exactly as it’s written or you have your sights set on a weight loss goal, sometimes resting is the best thing you can do for your body. Needing rest doesn’t mean you’re weak and it doesn’t mean you won’t reach your goal. We need time and rest to recover from the stress of exercise, it’s part of the process of strengthening and transforming our bodies. Also important to remember, just because Sally is feeling great and still going doesn’t mean that you are failing because your body feels like it needs rest. You and Sally are different. You and Sally might be after the same end result, but how you both get there might end up looking very different. Fitness is a personal journey. Please remember not to compare your journey with anyone else’s.
Be on the lookout for these hints that your body could use some rest:
5. You’ve hit a plateau. This could mean two things. It could mean that you have increased your strength and endurance but your workouts are not evolving to continually challenge you at new levels. It could also mean that you’re overtraining and your body just can’t keep up. It’s very important that you take a close and honest look at what you’ve been doing and decide which one of the two issues you have. Talk to a certified fitness professional if you aren’t sure. If you really need rest but you think you just need to challenge yourself more, you could end up with serious injuries, not to mention your mental state will be negatively affected.
4. You keep having bad workouts. We all have a bad day now and then and just can’t get it together in our workouts. We feel weak, uncoordinated, mentally defeated, or we just can’t get into it. But a sure sign that you’re overdoing it is that every workout starts to feel that way. If you’re feeling like every workout is terrible, it’s time to start thinking about getting some rest.
3. You are excessively sore all the time. Soreness is normal after a workout and it’s also normal for soreness to continually increase, peaking at up to 48 hours after your workout with delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, and lasting for up to 72 hours. But you have to be aware, if that muscle group you worked is still sore past the 72 hour mark, your body is telling you it needs more time and energy to recover.
2. You’re tired and moody all the time. Another clue you’re over training is insomnia. Your body needs energy to recover and if you’re not giving it that rest time your central nervous system goes into overdrive trying to heal your muscles. When this happens, the insomnia sets in. If you’re experiencing consistent bad moods, you could be mentally fatigued from overtraining which, when ignored, can even lead to depression.
1. You always put fitness first. Fitness is important but it’s something that is supposed to improve your life, not consume it. You can have too much of a good thing. When fitness becomes an obsession you will be more likely to ignore physical and mental signs of fatigue and distress. Make sure your overall health is most important in your fitness journey. If you need help examining this part of your life, talk to a certified fitness professional, a doctor, or even a friend who will be honest with you about what they see happening in your life.
Keep in mind that over training is not something that happens overnight, so unless you have ignored the signs for a while, an extra day or two of rest should be sufficient. Part of a healthy lifestyle is paying attention to what your body is telling you. But if you have been ignoring your body’s cries for help for a while now and they are just getting louder, I recommend taking some time off from exercise all together for at least a week. It sounds like a long time when you’re in the middle of a program or have your heart set on a goal, but when you’re talking about your physical and mental health in the long run, a week is a very short break. In some cases I might recommend even longer than a week. Again, this is a good thing to talk to a fitness professional about. Remember to stretch daily, even on rest days, drink plenty of water, and make your overall health and well being your main focus.