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Does Your Body Need To Rest?

Rest is an often over looked and/or the least preferred component of training. It is a vital piece that needs to be included in all training plans. Everyone will respond differently to training stimulus, so it is important to be on the lookout for signs of overtraining and make adjustments as needed to continue performing at your peak and staying injury free.

It’s understandable to think that working out more is betterbut in this case “more” can sabotage your workouts and your overall performance and progress.

Rest is an often over looked and/or the least preferred component of training. It is a vital piece that needs to be included in all training plans. Everyone will respond differently to training stimulus, so it is important to be on the lookout for signs of overtraining and to make adjustments as needed to continue performing at your peak and staying injury free. Does your body need to rest?

Overtraining is excessive frequency, volume or intensity of training, resulting in fatigue.

Is Your Body Telling You You’re Overtraining?

1. Are you getting sick and injured a lot?

Chronically elevated levels of cortisol not only stall your fat loss, but also lower your immunity, making you more susceptible to illness. And, if you are never giving your body a chance to fully recover, you are setting yourself up for potential injury.

2. Are you sore all the time?

Being sore after your workout is normal, and it’s possible your delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) won’t peak for another 48 hours. However, being constantly sore is a clear sign that you need to back off and give your muscles an opportunity to fully recover.

3. Have you stopped seeing results?

When you’re consistently stressing your body you are constantly triggering your body’s “fight or flight” response and elevates cortisol levels which, according to orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey J. Rocco, can lead to fat storage.

4. Do you feel fatigued and sluggish for the rest of the day after your workout?

You are able complete your workout, but then you are spent for the remainder of the day. A sweat session can be productive, but if it drains you of your energy even after you’ve eaten, it’s time to find out why and how training has become counterproductive.

5. Are you having, what feels like, uncontrollable cravings for comfort foods?

Efficient training should go hand-in-hand with a healthy refueling to optimize results. If you have an uncontrollable craving for caffeine and sweet or salty carbohydrates, it is possible your body is craving these to compensate for exhaustion. According to human performance expert, Dr. Phil Maffetone, overtraining often leads to “abnormal hunger or cravings for sweets.”

6. Are you completing your normal training routine? 

You’re showing up, but are giving up a little too soon or just going through the motions. It’s a struggle even to get through it, and all you can think about is being done.

7. Are you experiencing behavioral changes like insomnia, depression, irritability or mood swings?

When you’re overtraining, your body’s systems go into overload. Hormones like cortisol and serotonin get out of sync which affects everything you do. Physical and emotional changes in behavior are an indication you probably need to take a step back from your training schedule.

8. Are you putting fitness before everything else in your life?

Training is important, but if you are consistently choosing your workouts over social engagements or even much-needed sleep, it might be time to reassess your goals and priorities.

Listen to your body. Our built-in protective mechanisms are there for a reason and will tell us what our body needs.

What is your body telling you?

If you’re overtraining, plan a rest period. Maybe do a day or two of no workouts at all or a few days of easy workouts will be all that you need. You may need several weeks. Don’t return to max training until you’re feeling like energetic self again.

By avoiding extremes you will workout stronger, run farther, make more progress and significantly reduce the risk of injury. Adding balance to your training decreases burnout and you’ll find yourself feeling more motivated and enjoying your training.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. ~Jim Rohn

This web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician. Consult with your physician if you have any concerns regarding your health.

I would love to chat:

Have you experienced overtraining? Did you answer yes to any of these questions? Do you include rest in your training plan?

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37 Comments

  1. Great post!! Rest is soo important and many people don;t realize they need it in order to see muscle growth and results from their hard wok in the gym!

  2. Great tips! I love these tips especially the sore part. I know when my body is saying stop!

  3. I am pretty sure that is what I need to do. My body has been so sore lately.

  4. This is such a good post for me. I have been going to the gym almost every day for a few months now, and I am ALWAYS sore. Especially my knees and ankles. For a while, I felt so tired, even though I thought I should feel more energized!

  5. Yes, I know that I need more sleep and rest! I am still dealing with the aftermath of having the flu. Ir is taking me longer than I thought to get back into my routines.

  6. This is so important!! I’ve had to learn the hard way to listen to my body after an injury, and it’s just so important to pay attention to these signs

  7. Great questions to consider whether you are in training or not! I have experienced over-training and now I am more aware of the signs but you gave more to consider…thanks!

  8. I’ve been in the rest phase for the past few weeks. My body is extra worn so I’ve been giving it much more rest than I’m used to. Rest days (or even weeks sometimes) are so important!

  9. It’s definitely hard to know if its overtraining or just overall fatigue from crazy high mileage. These are such helpful questions and guidelines for determining if you are overtrained.

  10. Great post. We are getting so much better at listening to our bodies. We always are on the GO, GO, GO. Rest is so important.

  11. I think that my body is definitely telling me to rest right now! So much so that it gave me lovely lower back muscle spasms on Monday and Tuesday. Now I can’t figure out if I should be trying to stretch the muscles or taking a nap!

  12. Great tips! I find that when I’m not well rested my weight loss efforts are futile. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I’ve always believed that with the proper amount of rest you’ll be able to accomplish great things. Sleep is so important and people often forget just how much the lack of it can really impact your performance overall. Staying up late to study or to work on a project only affects your health. Rest, and start fresh the next day.

  14. This is great information. I think people don’t appreciate thr importance of rest enough

  15. I agree that people that train hard definitely need rest days. I also think cross training helps too.

  16. I’m trying to make myself cut back before I get to this point. Lately I’ve just been plain old TIRED. With one more race in April, I’m stepping back before I revamp my schedule.

  17. I feel so much better when I rest after a hard day. Sometimes it makes all the difference to just take a day off. Love this post.

  18. Lesley Carter says:

    I love this post. It’s great to reflect on why are bodies are behaving a certain way. I love working out but I try to keep it to a good pace.

  19. My next half is in less than 2 weeks & I plan on having an easy May! You are so right, we only have 1 body we got to take care of it!

  20. I really need to start exercising but yes overtraining is bad for you and your muscles. See I do this but with work, I overwork which makes me feel sluggish and sick all the time.

  21. I try and switch things up so I don’t over stress my body. I found that before I would try and work through being sore and I just ended up sick. Lots of points to think of that’s for sure!

  22. Rest days are a struggle for me–I just really like moving my body and pushing hard in workouts! But I learned the hard way that not taking enough rest time has major consequences, so now I try to incorporate more R&R days to foam roll, stretch, and recuperate 🙂

  23. I just try to add rest to any part of my day. 😉 As a SAHM to very active twins my body is in constant motion. Rest has become a foreign word for now.

  24. I know too many people who don’t listen to their bodies. They push themselves too hard until they get sick and then act like they’re fine!

  25. Great post!! When I first started exercising regularly I didn’t schedule a rest day and it led to burn out pretty quickly! Definitely like having 1-2 rest days during the week to give myself a break 🙂

  26. Totally important to remember to REST. Some people go non-stop and are almost obsessed with going and going but need to realize that rest is an important piece of the big picture of health.
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

  27. Rest is so important. It is essential to listen to your body and act accordingly. This is a great post. Very well done. One of my favorite quotes. xo Lauren

  28. I really live this post. I know too many athletes who don’t take time to rest and recover because it makes them feel lazy. This is a great guide and something everyone needs to read!!

  29. My husband works out 6 days a week and I can totally see some of these issues in him lately! I will have him read this today once he gets back (from the gym) and I bet it helps him!

  30. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    Yes it does, but you don’t have to take a whole day off completely. I think cutting it back or doing something different is ok, too!

  31. This was a very hard lesson for me to learn! Years ago, I hired a coach to BQ and he couldn’t believe how much training and how little rest I was getting. He told me “you need to schedule rest days as you would your long mileage days, it’s THAT important!” Ever since I have been doing just that and it’s working out pretty well 🙂
    Great post on a much needed topic for everyone to understand!

  32. yes! regular rest is such an important part of a training plan and sometimes you might need a bit more. always good to listen to your body!

  33. Back in the olden days when I overtrained and had NO IDEA I WAS DOING IT —-I did it all out of excitement.
    Id just discovered resistance training and I was addicted.
    I realized quickly I was overtraining when my joy about going to the gym VANISHED.

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