If this keeps happening to you, you’re working out too hard

Updated: Jan 26

Workout exhaustion is a thing and yes, you may be working out too much

Working out is one of the nicest things you can do for your health and the health of your organs, but when is working out too much, too much of a good thing?

Muscle gain and fat loss are attained through exercise, however too much exercise, over training, or not enough rest periods come with a caveat - weight gain from the stress hormone cortisol.”

Exercise burn out, yes, it’s a real thing, and it’s hard to believe that there is such a thing as too much exercise.

My goodness I can’t say enough great things about exercise! It is one of the absolute best things you can do for your health. It fends off a slew of chronic diseases, keeps your heart healthy and running efficiently, great for your mind & body, keeps you looking young, happy, and healthy, just to name a few. A great sweat session empowers, invigorates, energizes…you get the drift 😊. Releasing a surge of endorphins through your body creating a natural “high” letting all your daily stressors slip away is one of the greatest benefits of exercise, leaving those dedicated craving more. You start to look forward to this “release” each and every day, when skipping a workout almost feels like you’re letting yourself down, you feel “off”, or you may even become irritable. I’m all for pushing those limits, pushing yourself, working harder and stronger! Like I always tell my people “get it!”.

Sometimes the hardest job a personal trainer has is actually getting their clients to show up to exercise, stay motivated, and stay consistent. It’s very rare to hear of those very few who exercise too much. To those who are so focused and dedicated, exercise is so ingrained into their daily life that it can often times become borderline obsessive. I’m not talking about those people who are consistent, dedicated, and empowered because it is great to be all those things, but rather those who are not allowing for adequate rest and repair and push their bodies to dangerous limits. Not only can exercise exhaustion cause a multitude of health issues ranging from mild to severe there are specific signs of exercise fatigue to watch out for:


Muscle gain and fat loss are attained through exercise, however too much exercise, over

training, or not enough rest periods come with a caveat - weight gain from the stress hormone cortisol produced in the adrenal glands. Cortisol is essential for many of your body’s functions including blood sugar and metabolism regulation and inflammation reduction, however too much cortisol can wreak havoc on your body leading to weight gain around the midsection and upper back along with other unpleasant side effects.


This is the type of exhausted that a cup of coffee can’t fix. 3 pm you’re at your desk struggling to keep your head up. You’ve exhausted your reserves and zapped every last bit of energy left.


That thumping in your chest isn’t subsiding because your heart is working extra hard for longer periods of time to keep up with the amount of work, you’re putting on your body. Typically, athletes and regular exercisers have a lower resting heart rate, however, if you’re reading this in bed or watching your favorite flick on TV and your heart is elevated that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re over training.


You would think too much exercise would cause you to zonk out early, but quite the contrary… Too much exercise with not enough rest periods increases the stress hormone (cortisol). Cortisol is generally at its lowest levels at night before bed, however the increase of this stress hormone causes the levels to be extremely elevated throwing your nervous system out of whack and decreasing your ability to get adequate sleep. This in turn exacerbates the effects of cortisol otherwise knows as the roller coaster effect.


You’re down right moody, short, sad, cranky, and depressed and coupled with a lack of sleep, well… you get the idea.


Over training compromises your immune system which in turn makes you more susceptible to upper respiratory illnesses.


Soreness in the days following strenuous exercise or heavy lifting is normal, but what isn’t normal is 4, 5, 6 + days later you’re still sore. This means that you’re not getting adequate rest periods and your body isn’t recovering and repairing the damage done from exercising.

Your body needs at least 1-2 days of rest per week, especially when your workouts consist of heavy bouts of circuit, HIIT, interval, and strength training. Those rest days are recovery days in which your body can actually realize the gains it’s made throughout the week, repairing is essentially building muscle during your time off. Like anything else, too much of anything is simply not good. When your body is telling you it’s been too much, listen, and give it the TLC it deserves.

I’m writing this piece not only as a cautionary tale but also a reminder to myself as I often times need to hear it. When I’m passionate about something, especially exercise and training, I push my own limits. Luckily, I’ve recognized some of the signs of over training and am able to take a step back. This is not to discourage you from working out at your max potential and pushing yourself, because that is how you get good at what you do, but rather to remind you that like anything in life, the key word is ‘balance’ If exercising is getting in the way of daily life, if you are re-arranging your schedule, or skipping out on family and friends to exercise instead, it’s time to take a step back and re-prioritize. If your body is burnt out, you are lethargic, not energized, extra moody, not sleeping, or sleeping too much you may be over training. It’s time to take a few days, weeks, or maybe even a month off to regroup. This amount of time shouldn’t interfere with all the progress you’ve made but rather give your body the rest it needs to revitalize and come back better than ever.

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