There comes a point in every skinny person’s life when they need to take a step back, eat some cheese and pass out on the couch. I’m talking about the moment when you realize you’ve gone just over the edge. Yes, ladies and gents, I’m talking about work out burn out.
Not to be confused with it’s brighter, older sibling “beast mode,” work out burn out is what happens when you’ve taken beast mode too far. You start dreading spin class. You look forward to tomorrow morning’s run like a frat boy during finals week. You’re hoping that somehow, someway, a pipe burst in the showers and the gym will be closed.
This happens to the best of us. Beast mode is essential to get you to the point where you zone out all other influences. You really believe you can do anything. So you take on a 10-mile run when the most you’ve ever done is six. Who cares? You’re challenging yourself to do better. Or, you’ve decided those half-hour laps at the pool are for wimps. You can do an hour, no problem.
Beast mode can put you in the mind set that whatever you’re doing isn’t challenging enough. It can trick you into thinking that you’re on the weaker end of the beast spectrum, when in reality you’re in the middle. So instead of upping your challenge quotient a smidge, you take that sucker to ludicrous speed and nearly kill yourself in the process.
It’s like you’ve just learned how to dive off the springboard so, naturally, the next step is to jump off the 33-foot-high platform. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
I’m all for challenging yourself, but at some point you’re going to have to listen to your body when it tells you to sit your ass down. The human body is capable of so many extraordinary things. Sometimes, you have to work your way up to certain challenges.
So now you’ve worn yourself out. The very thought of lacing up your gym shoes wears you out. What’s a gym rat to do?
1. Know when it’s time to tame the beast. Your body will tell you a lot faster than your head what you’re capable of doing. Learn the difference between when your body is telling you it’s unfamiliar with something new or it just can’t do something new. Don’t let beast mode take control.
2. Don’t get caught up in the same thing. I’ve said many times that switching up your routine is beneficial in so many ways to keeping you on track. Take a break from some of your more high-impact activities to try something less intense. My suggestion would be to try yoga. You’ll be able to stretch your body in ways you didn’t think of, allowing you to be more limber for wen you’re ready to get back at it. Also, a good vinyasa yoga session is like the world’s best massage.
3. Learn the beauty of active recovery. Any marathoner will tell you they don’t just sit around carb-loading once those 26.2 miles are over. They go for light walks. They continue to stretch. They keep the heavy activity to a minimum so they can work back up to the beast.
4. Take advantage of rest days. Remember: Rest days are your friends. They are the days your body looks forward to. You’ve been working so hard. Your limbs ache in a good way. But you haven’t been getting as much sleep as you’d like because of early sessions with your trainer. Well, guess what? Even your trainer wants you to rest up. Pamper yourself and go get a massage, if yoga doesn’t work for you. You’ll thank me later.
Beast mode will always be there. It’s what is driving you to challenge yourself to do better. But don’t let it take control. That could lead to resentment of your favorite exercise. Take a few days off. Let your body miss the exercise. That way, when you come back, you’ll be stronger than ever.
What do you do when you have work out burn out? How do you tame the beast?