We’ve all spotted the hard-core gym goers working out seven or more days per week. But is more necessarily better? In today’s society the notion of doing more usually equates to bettering one’s life, but in the case of training, taking breaks is not only crucial, but can prevent injury, chronic inflammation, exhaustion and hitting a plateau.
Letting Your Body Recover
Did you know that the majority of your muscle gains actually occur once you’ve left the gym? It’s the recovery stage after your workout that allows your body to get stronger and leaner. Training breaks are important to allow your body to reset and recuperate, allowing for higher quality training post-break.
When to Take Exercise Breaks
If you find yourself overly tired, lacking motivation or having your workout intensity drop, these may be the signs of needing to take a training break. Not just a day or two, but sometimes 5 to 7 days.
If exercise is leaving you more exhausted than energized, you could be suffering from an acute case of overtraining. Individuals who exercise excessively are risking more than poor performance: They’re risking their health.(1)
Symptoms of Overtraining
Overtraining is also be known as burnout and can be characterized by the following symptoms:(2)
- Muscle Weakness
- Chronic Fatigue
- Sore Muscles
- Reduced Motivation
- Sleep Disturbance
- Increased early morning or sleeping heart rate
- Altered mood states
- Loss of appetite
- Recurrent infection
- Gastrointestinal disturbance
If you begin to feel these symptoms, it’s a clear sign to rest.
Your time off training is a perfect time for you to recharge your body both mentally and physically. Avoid looking at your training break as a roadblock. Instead consider it as a time of reflection and grounding. Read a book you’ve always wanted to read, go for a walk to a part of your city you’ve never been to or head outside for a picnic with friends of family.
Be sure to sleep well, drink plenty of water and engage in light movement such as walking or stretching. Once your training break is complete your body and mind will thank you. You will return back to your training feeling rested, strong and full of energy. To prevent overtraining, seek to find a balance in your training that is right for you!
- American Council on Exercise. (2013). Top 10 signs you’re overtraining. Accessed 7/12/13 from http://www.acefitness.org/updateable/update_display.aspx?pageID=634
- Gleeson, Michael. (2002).Biochemical and immunological markers of overtraining. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 1:31-41. Accessed 7/15/13 from http://www.jssm.org/vol1/n2/1/v2-1.pdf