Most people have to drag their butts to the gym, but not you: you love the rush of adrenaline and endorphins you get after a satisfying workout and you love feeling your body get stronger. This feeling can become addictive, and over time you might find yourself increasing the length and frequency of your workouts to push yourself harder and keep getting that rush.
But there’s a fine line between pushing your limits and pushing yourself too far—these ten tips can help tell you if you need to give your body a well-deserved rest.
- Constant Fatigue
You could be training too hard if you’re experiencing general and consistent fatigue—meaning no matter how much sleep you get you feel achy and tired. This is your body telling you that it can’t keep up with your exercise regimen, and you should throw in a few rest days to let your body fully recover.
- Difficulty Sleeping
If you suddenly start having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night, you might be working out too much. This can surprise people, since most assume that a hard workout before bed would help send you straight to la-la land. If you’re overexerting yourself, your sympathetic nervous system will begin to struggle to go into sleep mode and you’ll find yourself tossing and turning even though you’re exhausted.
Exercising and eating right is a great way to keep your immune system healthy, but overdoing the exercise can actually make you a prime target for illness. Think about it: if you’re using up all your energy at the gym, what’s left to fight off sickness? Your exhausted body will be more susceptible to viruses and colds, which could keep you out of the gym for more than just the occasional rest day.
- Constant Muscle Soreness
Pushing your limits at the gym is great for building muscle and endurance, but it should only take 1-2 days for your muscles to recover from a workout. If you’re still feeling a particularly grueling workout 3-4 days later, your body is telling you to slow down and let it catch up. Don’t be afraid to test yourself, but don’t increase your weights more than 5 pounds each session, and never work the same muscle group two days in a row. Eating the right foods post-workout can help speed up the recovery process as well.
- Ignoring Pain
Your workouts should never cause you pain—muscle soreness yes, but pain in your joints and limbs is a sign you’re working too hard and not using proper form. When your body gets tired, it tries to save energy by losing form and relying on stronger muscles, like your dominant arm and leg. This will eventually lead to injury, no matter how strong you are. A good way to tell if your body has had enough is if you can no longer physically maintain proper form for every rep.
- Irritability and Mood Swings
Working out should make you feel good and proud of your body. It should never leave you feeling depressed or moody, which could be a sign that you’re pushing yourself too hard both physically and mentally. Your workout should increase your energy and give you a rush of nice, addictive endorphins—you may need to tone it down if you find yourself berating someone for using the elliptical for 5 minutes longer than they booked it.
- Unexplained Weight Gain
Sometimes working out too much can actually lead to weight gain, instead of loss. If you’re not working out correctly, you could be burning muscle and glycogen stores instead of fat, and suddenly find the scale going up despite working out like a maniac.
- Need New Workout Gear
Maybe your body hasn’t started showing wear and tear, but your workout clothes can’t lie. If you’re going through sneakers every couple months and your new clothes are already faded from the wash, you could be working out excessively. This might be a sign to re-evaluate your workout regimen, as well as a push to invest in quality gym wear that will go the distance and help protect you from injury.
- Lack of Stretching
Think of your muscles like a rubber band pulled taut—if you never let it bend and stretch, it will eventually snap. Your muscles need stretching after working out to ensure they can recover and grow. If you don’t include regular stretching into your routine, you’ll could end up with an injury, or at the very least, longer recovery times.
- Skipping Rest Days
Resting is a crucial part of getting fit; your body needs time to rebuild muscles. If you start find reasons to skip your allotted rest days, or justify double workouts in a day in anticipation of a rest day, you could be pushing yourself too hard. Try planning a busy day full of social obligations for your rest days so that you can’t bail and hit the gym when you should be recovering.