So we have been making strides and efforts to get off the couch and put down the Lays potato chips, the tv remote and halleluiah our mindset toward fitness and exercise is improving. We all are very aware of the consequences of not moving more, (you see I have decided in an effort to drive home the mindset of QOL, quality of life, movement is our synonym for exercise) and with this new found energy we are making progress, fantastic.
However our new energy can lead to the dreaded INJURY, our new found exuberance has put us on the DL (disabled list) and dang it we lose our mojo. In other words workout burnout, please allow me to share a story, and perhaps we can together avoid this momentum killer.
In my own quest to lose the fifty I had acquired through my 40âs, the movement (workouts) I had been doing was adequate, and hey everyone starts somewhere. Every couch potato in the world starts at the bottom of the mountain, this one included. And let me preface this whole piece by stating that the limited and somewhat adequate workouts were enough to help me in 2008 when I had a serious illness to recover from.
After that epiphany, which is actually the first chapter in my book âThe 200% Solutionâ, the workout efforts seriously got kicked into high gear, and that is where things started to get hairy and overuse, and workout burnout raised its ugly head.
Movement (exercise) and the neuro- chemicals that are released in our brain during exercise are very powerful, so powerful if you are not careful the desire to fuel the release of these, (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin) can lead to issues. Issues for example described as âavoidableâ , can really take a toll on our body, knock us out of commission and put us right back on the couch, dang it!
So lets talk about over training and overuse which lead to workout burn out, or put another way, avoiding becoming a wounded warrior.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM, where I hold my certified personal training and fitness nutrition specialist certifications, weight loss specialist and senior fitness specialization) defines overtraining as:
âExcessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training, resulting in fatigue (which is also caused by lack of proper rest and recovery)â
Overuse injuries are similarly defined as:
â Injury that involve repetitive submaximal loading of a particular musculoskeletal unit, resulting in changes due to fatigue of tendons or inflammation of surrounding tissues.â
In real people speak knock you back to the couch time! And this can really kill our momentum to get back into shape. Itâs tough to imagine the goal, get rolling, start making progress and then crash into an injury, that my friends is not a trainers answer to getting into shape.
As I prepped for my first body building show in 2010, I was determined to make a good showing. I set the goal, had the coaching, (Chris Johnson of On Target Living) a great training partner Regie Reider, a 28 year old former college football player and I was not going to let either of them down. Chris and I both competed in the same division, the grand masters which is for men over 50, and so it went, for 16 weeks of double sessions, before and after work workouts, strict whole foods every 2 hours, we were ripped and cut cats by the time the show took place in April. And let me tell you it was great.
The problems started for me right after the completion. Soft tissue, tendons and cartilage need rest, they do not recover as quickly as muscles and when stressed out you have the perfect storm for tendinitis, and I developed the elbow version. It was a nagging issue that did not completely stop me from continuing to exercise, but let me tell you I was very close to having major issues, and that my friends is the classic definition of âworkout burnoutâ. I was very lucky; donât put yourself into that precarious situation if you can avoid it.
Do not become the classic gym rat, rolling into the gym and doing the same workout once a day, treadmill, elliptical, gotta stick to my routine because that is my comfort zone. That leads to thoughtless training, overuse, and staleness. It takes the fun right out of your day and puts you right back into the funk (which coincidentally the subject of another chapter in âThe 200% Solutionâ).
Training smarter and having more fun will increase your pace, which can lead to a more efficient compact training session.
Recovery can be our friend, and sleep is our great equalizer. Your efficient workouts can help you become more adaptable in the sleep department. Good sleep takes effort and planning, however the payoff is huge. Your muscle recovery is enhanced, your work efforts are improved and your overall QOL benefits, and that is my friends is the name of our tune.
Ok so now we have an explanation, how about a routine, how do we train smart and avoid workout burnout? I am so glad you asked.
The following is a short list of to-doâs, of using your brain to not over train, check this out-
Why I should train smarter-
â¢ Because you will recover more quickly.
â¢ You may avoid an injury
â¢ You will become more efficient/gaining speed/ increasing endurance
â¢ And you will keep yourself feeling young and energized
â¢ Your confidence will soar
Work out burn out can be avoided by trying these tips, and I have personally used them all at one time or another, they work, are not difficult and can help you meet your goals of enhanced QOL.
â¢ Understand the âKinetic Chainâ, the concept is that every part of your body, including muscles, joints and nerves, must work together to produce movements. Posture, form and pace. It is quality above quantity
â¢ Vary your workouts- Look at your training this way, one hard day followed by two easy days keeps you not only fresh, the routine flexible but gives you recovery time needed to heal.
â¢ Heart rate monitors- I use a Polar, and have for several years now. I believe it keeps me on track and is a good monitoring device
â¢ HIIT training- High intensity interval training, quick hitters between sets, I am a jump rope guy and believe everyone should try it, 30 seconds of lunges, squats or jumping jacks will work just as well
â¢ Cross training-Runners try cycling, lifters try yoga, cardio people try resistance training, varied training can not only prevent the dreaded burnout, but you may become aware of something you like. Like the old saying, âvariety is the spice of lifeâ.
So as we move forward into our forward chapters, the âtransition yearsâ think about the positives and the possibilities for affirmative growth. We are at a special place in the history of our country, and through personal accountability in regard to our health and wellness we can all make a difference. Keep that in mind as we make strides to slowly improve, small steps, life is a very long and fruitful journey as long as we donât overdue and move to quickly and expect too much too fast.
A video for inspiration.