8 Workout Red Flags That May Mean You're Pushing Your Body Way Too Hard
If you live by the motto "no pain, no gain," or you frequently exclaim that your HIIT circuits "hurt so good," you're probably the type of person who challenges yourself to the max during your workouts. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's important to be aware of the potential repercussions of pushing yourself too hard in a workout routine. Paying attention to workout red flags that tell you when to back off, and give yourself and your body some well-deserved TLC, is essential when it comes to maintaining an active and balanced lifestyle.
Of course, some of these red flags are pretty obvious, and it can be clear that your body is all but begging for a rest day: You're ridiculously sore long after you've worked out a certain part of your body, or you're feeling irritable during and after your workouts for no apparent reason.
But there are also a handful of less common indicators that you're ignoring your body's signals to chill the f*ck out. All of these signals from your body are of equal importance, and it's crucial to pay attention to all of them so you can avoid injuries, that general burnout feeling, and of course, keep your body healthy and strong, rather than tired and overworked.
Make sure that you're being mindful of these eight red flags that might pop up during your workouts, because they could mean that you might be going a bit too hard, my friend.
1. You Can Barely Finish Your Workouts
You may have heard of something called "training to failure," which is basically the concept of working your muscles to complete and utter exhaustion. And while challenging yourself to do as many reps as possible during a workout may be OK to experiment with once in a while, that's pretty much the only time when you should feel like you literally can't complete your workout.
Otherwise, if you regularly feel exhausted every time you hit the gym, and you can't even complete your typical cardio sessions, or more low-key stretches, that's likely a sign that something's up with your body.
Take this as a sign for a rest day or two (or three), and if the feeling persists, be sure to speak to your doctor about it.
2. You're Pushing Your Body To The Max During Every Sweat Sesh
It's so, so important to carve out time to recover when you're regularly doing intense workout sessions. Doing sprints, lifting heavy weights, or plowing through intense HIIT circuits every damn day just won't give your muscles enough time to restore and regenerate.
Make sure you're alternating your harder exercise days with lower-intensity sessions. Your body will thank you.
3. You're Tossing And Turning When You Try To Sleep At Night
If you're lying in bed at night, and you just can't seem to get to sleep, it could be a red flag that your workouts are getting way too intense.
When you feel like you're not able to catch some quality shut-eye after a workout, it may be because your sympathetic nervous system — which is responsible for your fight-or-flight response — is still working, meaning your stress levels are through the roof.
Even though exercise is a healthy stressor, it's still technically a form of stress. Back off a bit for the sake of your sleep, girl.
4. You're Getting Sick A Lot
If you've constantly got a case of the sniffles, you might have your overly demanding workouts to blame. According to ACTIVE, the increased stress hormones that are released during your sweat sessions can lead to a drop in immune function, meaning it's much more likely that you'll catch a cold.
It's always best to listen to your body and take it easy when you're sick, but your constant coughing might be signaling that you need a lot more downtime than you thought.
5. Your Progress Plateaus For No Reason
When you overtrain at the gym, your glycogen stores (aka the part of your body that stores your carbs) can start depleting, and this can cause your body to hang on for dear life to any nutrients that you do consume, because your body thinks that there's not enough fuel to keep you going. As a result, this might cause a plateau in your progress as your body fights against you to be in equilibrium.
Bottom line: Many times, less is more when it comes to working out. Dial it back, friend.
6. Your Resting Heart Rate Is Out Of Whack
That little beating thing in your chest might low-key be telling you that you're pushing yourself past your limits, so even though it sounds cheesy, I mean this literally: Listen to your heart!
According to SELF, if your resting heart rate starts to go up in the morning, then that could definitely be a sign of overtraining. Check in with this every once in a while by taking your pulse in the a.m. hours, and be sure to speak to your doctor if you notice your heart rate remains elevated even after toning down your workout sessions.
7. Your Joints Are Super Achey
Muscle soreness is usually the first sign that you'll recognize when you're going too hard with your workouts. However, if you notice joint pain before, during, or after your workouts, it's really important to stop putting stress on the affected areas ASAP, because if you don't, you could be heading toward an injury.
8. You Absolutely Dread Hitting The Gym
If you're starting to feel like you're alway dreading hitting up your favorite cycling class, or you're constantly feeling like crap during workouts that used to make you feel amazing, try to pay attention to these signals instead of mindlessly pushing through them.
Resting is always OK — in fact, it's encouraged — so be gentle with yourself. Your body always shows up for you when you want it to push harder, so return the favor by being there for your body, and listening to it when it's trying to tell you something.