Workout, Don't Burnout: Tips for a Balanced Exercise Schedule

You’ve finally reached your goal of establishing a consistent workout routine - sweet! In fact, you find the results a little addicting. You may begin to wonder, when it comes to working out, is there such a thing as too much? How much exercise does the average person need to see results? And what are the signs that your body needs a break? 

Exercise: How Much is Too Much?

To a degree, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Just as no two fingerprints are the same, the perfect workout routine is one that’s catered to your needs. However, when the amount of exercise exceeds the body’s ability to recover, we can actually end up becoming slower and weaker (not to mention sick and injured) rather than faster and stronger.

For most folks, the sweet spot lies in going hard three to four times a week. The perfect workout schedule allows you to:

  • Go all-out every workout (no sandbagging)

  • Live your life

  • Recover properly

A healthy and effective workout routine means accepting the mentality that more isn’t always more. Research backs this up: When Danish scientists had folks with sedentary lifestyles do either three and a half or seven hours of cardio a week, the group that sweat less lost just as much weight despite burning half the calories during planned sessions. Why? The exercisers who did less actually had extra energy, allowing them to move more throughout the day rather than face-planting on the couch post-workout.

The lesson? Choose a workout routine that leaves you with enough energy to maintain an active lifestyle. Killing it at the gym is great, but if you’re too sore to workout the rest of the week or find yourself sacrificing consistency, you’ve gone too far.

3 Tips for a Balanced Workout Schedule

  1. Recovery matters. Training breaks the body down, but recovery builds it back up - stronger and faster than before. Recovery days are just as important as a killer workout. The best exercise plan alternates tough days with off days, or a recovery cardio workout. Go for an easy run or bike ride. As long as it’s not taxing your muscles, it’s healthy. 
  2. Quality vs. quantity. Instead of feeling the need to notch a daily workout, make each workout count. Runners have a phrase for this: "no junk miles." It means opting out of extra runs that hinder your recovery and steal energy from a future session. Gk says: “it's not as important what you do today as that you're here tomorrow and next week, and next month.”
  3. If you must workout, do this. If you're finding it impossible to convince yourself to take a day off, try a simple, 10 minute HIIT workout. Do 5 minutes of cardio (jumping jacks or skaters) and 5 minutes of body-weight moves (think squats). You’ll get the mood-boosting endorphins that come from exercise without overtaxing your body. 

Listen to your body, go all out (make it count!) in your workouts, realize recovery days are essential, and remember: an exercise routine that allows for consistency is what you’re after. 

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