Everyone does it. They get the “gym bug” and don’t want to take a rest day. I have done it. My husband has done it. Others we have known have done it. What happens? Injury, burn out, and other things happen which make it more difficult to return to the gym. This is why we have always stressed having a rest day or two, especially when you are just starting out with fitness. Personally Derrick and I have about 1 to 2 rest days a week depending on what’s going on. With my strength phase and training for SuperLeague I actually had maybe one rest day in a week sometimes I didn’t take any at all. I was also doing so much time at the gym and then home training as well. If you properly know what you are doing this is NOT overtraining. Overtraining is a completely separate subject that I will get into at another time.
Anyways, there are some signs and symptoms, nine of them to be exact, that you have that will tell you when its time to take a break from the gym.
1. You are having difficulty sleeping
Ok this one is as cut and dry as it may sound. Some people do have problems sleeping and its not because of too much caffeine or too much training, but then there are those that do have issues sleeping and it is caused from too much caffeine too close to bed or too much training.
When you exercise too much, you body doesn’t get the adequate rest that it needs, which in turn causes elevated levels of cortisol, which disrupts normal sleep hormones.
Another reason too much exercise can lead to bad sleep could be from sore muscles, which can happen if muscles do not fully recover from a workout. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness you have sore muscles with but this is usually is not due to lack of sleep more you are using a muscle that you are not used to using or you have added more weight to certain exercises.
2. You don’t look forward to your workout
If you normally look forward to your workout or fitness class, and now you are dreading the thought of exercise, this is a clear indicator that you might want to take the day off. Check-in with your body.
3. Your get anxiety just thinking about your workout
Exercise should not feel like a chore and it should be enjoyable thing, and a way to release from the stress of the day and take time for yourself. If you can’t even stomach the thought of working out agin, this might be a sign to take a break.
Note: If you always dread exercise no matter how much or how little you’ve been exercising, this means you need to find a different mode of exercising. Hate running? Then try yoga or a spin class. The most important thing is that you enjoy the workout.
4. You feel tired after exercising
Exercise should make you feel energized and is meant to boost the feel good hormones in the brain. If you are feeling more tired and fatigued after exercise, this is a sign that either your exercise was too intense and/or you need to take a day off.
5. You feel more irritable
Too much exercise can cause cortisol levels to remain elevated at all times, which can make you feel more anxious and irritable. If you have been more irritable lately, one of the questions you should ask yourself is how much exercise have you been doing.
Note: The flip-side of this is if you have not been exercising and you have been feeling more irritable. In this case, exercising should help to boost feel good hormones and promote improved mood.
6. You are developing an injury
If you have any type of ache or pain that doesn’t go away after a few days and if anything is getting worse, this is a sign of wear and tear on ya muscle and/or other supporting structure such as a tendon or ligament. Muscle is broken down with exercise so that it can rebuild and become stronger, but if the tissue does not have adequate time to rebuild then you are at risk for further tissue breakdown and injury.
7. You can’t remember the last time you took a rest day
If you think back and can’t remember the last time you didn’t do workout, this is definitely an indicator that you need to take a day off. I recommend taking off one day a week or one day every two weeks, depending on how intense you workout for.
Note: Take a rest day dose not mean you just have to sit around all day. Take this day to do a light yoga class, meditation, stretch, and get some walking in. I still recommend getting at least 10,000 steps per day on a rest day.
8. Your period is late
Over-exercising can cause your period to be irregularly long due to a delay in ovulation. This is most likely due to elevated cortisol levels from the stress of exercise on the body, which can inhibit the normal cascade of events needed for ovulation.
Note: This may not always be the case. There are other things with the body that can cause irregular periods or lack of periods or periods that last longer than normal. Please contact a doctor to help determine if it is exercise or something else that your body is experiencing.
9. An easy workout now feels hard to finish
If you are having a hard time finishing a workout that you normally can finish with no problem, this is a sign that you need to take a day off from the gym. When your muscles are so taxed, this can cause them to not perform at their optimal level.
One or more of the above can be an indicator that you need to take a rest from exercise. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to be inactive, instead make this an active rest day and walk, stretch, maybe even some light yoga.