Classic Exercise Burnout

by Nicole Smith on September 16, 2013

gym burnout

So fall is back into full gear with the kids back at school, fundraising event dates on the calendar, and of course back to the workout routine.

Many people, ahem, MOST people, tend to slack on their normal workout routines in the summertime, especially towards the end of the summer when it becomes hot and gross outside and lying next to the pool becomes much more appealing and wins over.

Ok, that happened, now we are moving on to the fall….where guilt creeps in from your extended “body vacation” and you decided to jump head into a full fletched workout routine, with weight training, cardio training, and all your classes jammed into everyday of your schedule until you get back into PERFECT shape…it’s the least you can do after all that lounging right? The first week goes great, well it’s awful hard, but you deserve that, right? So you keep pushing through with all of your determination to wake up to week two of your intense “Get back to shape fall routine” with a cough, or a sore knee that you’ve never had before, or even a sense of hatred for your favorite yoga class.

What is going on???

Well my friend that is classic fall burnout. And about 75% of people who start up their falls with full determination and gusto are going to lose it completely and give up after just a few weeks into it.

runner cramp

Why is this?

Since you weren’t working out as much at the end of summer, your body got out of shape. You got that memo obviously which is why you were working out, right? Keep listening, this is the important part:

When most people start working out after an extended vacation, they start their workout routines where they left off before the hiatus. This is a mistake. The schedule and exercises are usually not appropriate for where their bodies are at that moment. It’s almost like a crush to most people’s egos to step back a bit and not push too hard, but in reality, this is what any athlete pro or professional dancer does at the beginning of the season, it’s called basic training for them and you should think of your fall training as BASIC TRAINING for you too.

How do you stop burnout?

I’m so glad you asked! Unlike the answer you MIGHT think I’d suggest like “Creating a more enticing reward for your goal.” Or “Dig deeper when you feel like quitting and stay focused.” My advice is:


couple walking 2

Ok, be nice to yourself…what is that supposed to mean?

Well, being that most people start their fall workout schedule with the guilt of how in shape they were at the beginning of the summer and how far they fell behind by the end, their inner voice is saying some pretty nasty things to them to start the fall fitness program. This beginning led by guilt and shame is what influences you to work too hard for your body to keep up. So the only way to break the initial cycle in the first place is to recognize this behavior and put a stop to it.

One great way to do this is to treat and talk to yourself the way you would a friend.

It’s as simple as that, yet extremely challenging for most of us. Most people would never say to a friend, “Get your lazy ass off the couch and run, faster!” yet will to ourselves when trying to motivate to get back into a fitness routine. It’s a classic case of beating the dog instead of enticing it with treats.

Instead, try inner motivational talk like, “You’re doing great honey, but if you need a break take it.” Or “You ran a mile yesterday, that’s amazing, how about some simple stretches today to recover?”

You will quickly see, in our society we are not programmed to be nice to ourselves. Even reading this you might be thinking, “Well if I say those things to myself I will become lazy and not motivated.”

That however is not true, and in fact, the opposite will most likely happen.  By not beating yourself, you will take a slower approach to get back into a fitness routine, and so what? All that will happen is it will take a few weeks longer to get back into the shape you have your goal set at. What will also happen is that you will be 90% less likely to get injured and burnt-out.

After four weeks of working out 2-3 times a week and you then feel like it’s ready to up the ante, fine. But do so in increments again to avoid high intensity training burnout as well.

Quitting is linked with guilt and most people will just suppress that this fall fitness program even happened and forget about the whole thing until January, when they will repeat the EXACT same cycle after New Year’s Day.

Remember, the most important thing is to make fitness part of your lifestyle instead of a “diet approach”.

Good news is you have your whole lifetime to do it, so please take your time!

Senior Man Doing Pushups

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