Previously, we shared some tips on how to increase workout intensity. In the same way that exercise should be progressed over time in order to improve, it’s also important to know when to slow down. Sometimes it’s necessary to regress your workout to give your body a break. It will help to prevent injury and to allow your body to adapt.
Understanding that more is not always better when it comes to fitness is very important, especially if you want to stay healthy and keep progressing toward achieving the body of your dreams. Too much exercise can be tough on your body in the same way that too little exercise won’t give you results. Finding a good balance is one of the keys to achieving your goals. Sometimes that means that you have to slow down with your routines.
So many people have asked me the question, “How will I know when it’s time to take a break from my fitness routine?” I also often hear “How do I scale back my routine without ruining the results?” So, here are some tips to help you know when it may be time to slow down or lighten your training load.
3 Signs that It’s Time to Slow Down
Weight too heavy
Many people will select a weight that’s too heavy for their current ability level. Poor form with heavy weights can cause injury. You’ll know if a weight is too heavy if you feel the need to hold your breath throughout the entire movement. If your movements are uneven, jerky when they should be smooth, or if you struggle to pick up weights, it’s your body letting you know you need a lighter weight.
Tip: Your body is important; it has to last you for the rest of your life. If a weight is causing you problems, simply reduce the weight and slowly build up to the next level. Pride and ego should be left at the gym door. Safety is what’s most important especially when lifting weights.
Safety tip: If lifting heavy weights is part of your preferred training program, ensure that you have a friend spot you, especially when you initially increase your weight. It’s much safer to follow a weight routine with a training partner or coach.
If your workout is making you feel exhausted long after it’s over, this may be an indication that you need to slow down a little. Unless you’re an athlete training for a competition, there’s no need to feel wiped out all day long because you pushed yourself too hard in the gym.
Tip: Schedule regular rest or easy days in between intense sessions to allow your body to recover and rejuvenate. Also, be conscious to consume good nutrition and adequate hydration on days that your exercise routine is intense.
Overuse Injuries and soreness
It’s normal to feel slight muscle soreness when you’re exercising regularly. The pain you get from overtraining and intense muscle soreness is discomfort, which doesn’t ease with rest. This type of soreness is an indication that you’re pushing yourself too hard. Pain is your body’s natural defense system and you should never train though pain. If muscle soreness or pain does not subside with rest, you should always visit your medical provider.
Tip: Schedule rest days and ensure that you’re doing some form of cross training to give your muscles a break. If you are an avid runner, rest your joints by adding in swimming or biking session to your week. A cool bath or ice pack is a great trick to help sore muscles feel better.
If you take the time to listen to your body, you’ll find the perfect balance between knowing when to progress and regress your workouts. I’ve said in the past “When in doubt, think like an athlete.” Athletes are constantly tweaking their training programs and nutrition plans. They ensure their bodies are well rested and well fueled in order to get the best results. You don’t have to be an athlete to take great care of your body, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what works best for you.
I hope my tips will help you to find your own perfect workout balance. A fitness plan should never feel old or stagnant. As your body adapts, adapt your mind and your habits to ensure you keep improving.
Living a healthy active lifestyle is the best way to stay healthy.
By Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness