3 Ways Beginners Can Avoid Exercise Burnout

Shannon Clark
by Shannon Clark
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3 Ways Beginners Can Avoid Exercise Burnout

Just getting started with your workout program? Chances are, you’re antsy to get going. Motivation is high and you’re excited about the results that you (hopefully!) will be seeing.

But, in all this excitement, one thing that you must be very careful about is the risk of burnout. Some beginners are just a little too motivated and end up pushing themselves too far.

For many, maintaining motivation is a real challenge, but for you, it’s the opposite. How can you make sure that you don’t wind up burnt out and can sustain your workout program for the months and years ahead?

Here are three ways that you can avoid exercise burnout.

Vary The Intensity Of Your Workout

First, remember that not every workout you do needs to be done with great intensity. In fact, it’s best to only keep 1-2 more intense workouts in your schedule each week until you advance to the intermediate level.

For now, keep most sessions at the low to moderate intensity as your body adapts to the stress of exercise. A few times a week, push the barrier a bit, increasing how hard you work, but then back down the next day.

This will help ensure your body is getting sufficient downtime to rest and recover between each workout.

Mix Gym Sessions With ‘Fun’ Sessions

Your fitness plan should never be all work and no play. It’s vital that you really enjoy most of the workouts you do, as this will also decrease your chances of burnout.

Once or twice a week, trade in your conventional gym session with a fun workout outside of the gym. Shoot hoops with a friend, go for a rollerblade in the park, visit a local lake and get in some swimming or beach volleyball.

If it’s so fun it doesn’t really feel like exercise, it’s perfect for this purpose. These sessions will help to revitalize you so that when you do head back into the gym, you’re feeling mentally fresh.

Listen To Your Body

Finally, don’t neglect what your body is telling you. Many beginners haven’t mastered the skill of tuning into themselves and adjusting their workout accordingly. There are times when pushing your body through some moderate fatigue is a wise move. Then there are times when pushing is only going to land you injured, overly fatigued, and on a downward spiral to burnout.

Burnout is a very real and serious thing. You really can be too motivated, so be sure that you are keeping tabs on how you feel as you progress through your program and adjusting the workout schedule as need be. Remember, no workout program is set in stone. The best workouts are adapted to your own changing needs.

About the Author

Shannon Clark
Shannon Clark

Shannon is an AFLCA certified personal trainer with a degree in exercise science. She has written on the topics of health, fitness, and nutrition for nearly a decade, and her thoughts and advice are regularly published on Bodybuilding.com, shannonclarkfitness.com, and FitRated.com, a leading fitness equipment review site offering fitness insights on equipment, workout plans, and weight loss strategies.


25 responses to “3 Ways Beginners Can Avoid Exercise Burnout”

  1. Avatar Sue says:

    I am restarting after a long break from exercising regularly so I appreciate this info. It is a nice reminder not too overdo it and to remember that this is a long process of creating a new healthy lifestyle. Trying to remember to enjoy the journey. 🙂

  2. Avatar Amanda says:

    I’m in the middle of recovery from a major abdominal surgery to correct a problem I’ve had for years and has prevented me from exercising regularly. This is a helpful article as I continue recovering and eventually am able to get to the gym more often! Thank you!

  3. Avatar Amber says:

    i think I am buring out as well ! I’ve been going to the gym daily for a month and have only missed 3 days. Today my legs are sore and I’m exhausted but feel guilty missing a day because I want to lose around 15 pounds. Any suggestions?

    • Avatar Lisa says:

      I too have been seriously going to the gym almost daily for the last two months. Realize that one day off here and there is not going to kill your routine, unless of course you just do not go back! Have you seen any difference in the last month? List any weight? Congratulate yourself for where you are, but also cut yourself some slack. Just not too much! It takes months to create good habits. We are off to a great start!

    • Avatar Paul says:

      Amber it is a slow progress, you want to make sure you enjoy your workouts as you will keep them up. Everyone is different but you should take a rest day (if not 2) a week as this will allow your body to recover & repair and enable you to work better in other workouts.

      A bigger part is the food though so keep an eye on everything you eat, this is a big big thing and can be more important than exercise.

      Try to not feel guilty on a rest day as you have ear ed them.

      One final point is make sure you are sleeping well.

    • Avatar Brendan says:

      My rule is to never skip more than 2 days in a row. After that, it jut keeps growing as your body gets used to not doing anything again and working out feels like, well, work, and you’re less motivated to do it. 2 days generally works for me, but if you want, you could tweak it however you want.

    • Avatar tasha says:

      You should be taking at least two break days a week to allow your body to rest and repair. I wouldn’t say back to back. I work extra hard before a break day.

  4. Avatar Brittany says:

    My problem is that I don’t know where to start in my fitness journey. I have a good idea on my diet, but working out I’m lost..the only thing I can come up with is to do Squats and Cardio 3-5x a week..

    Any help guys 🙂

    • Avatar Jasmine says:

      I have been enjoying jillian Michaels workouts. She definitely pushes you but does moderate it to make it easier or harder. Body revolution is a 3 month program that helps you build up muscle and uses weight. I’m doing kickboxing fast fix now and it’s 3 workouts that combine kickboxing with some strength training and are only 20 minutes long. I think a video or class is a great start when you don’t know what to do. Hope this helps

      • Avatar Mel says:

        I downloaded an app called Workout Trainer and love it. There’s different intensity workouts and so many to choose from.

    • Avatar Julia says:

      Hey Brittany. Congratulations on your fitness journey. The first step is always the most important! So for my workouts, I warm up with cardiovascular (5-15 min.) Then do a strength set (weight lifting and ab crunches. If you need help, there are always fitness instructors to correct your movements) and then do cardiovascular for 30-60 minutes. This ensures optimal work out time. The weight lifting helps you burn calories the rest of the day instead of cardio which is only during the workout.

      Good luck!

    • Avatar Jenn says:

      Beach body has a ton of fun and challenging videos out there. Yoga is an overall good choice for body and mind.

      • Avatar DannielleFarmerona says:

        as Jose said I didn’t know that some people able to profit $8722 in 1 month on the computer . check here

    • Avatar Sandy Fouse Eplett says:

      Brittany~ Starting a fitness journey is sometimes the most challenging!! With over 20 years in the fitness industry; I have helped 100’s of people with their fitness journey. Let me know if I can be of any help to you. You can email me at fitnesscoach4you@gmail.com or FB me at Sparked Up Fitness

    • Avatar Susan says:

      Buy the wii fit plus. You can get it so cheap now and even cheaper second hand! It’s absolutely fab! It monitors weight, calories and its your own personal trainer. To top it off its so much fun!

    • Avatar Jessica Lavonne says:

      I also have had this problem all my life! It’s just so easy to not work out when you feel so overwhelmed about all the different things you can do (but may not know how to do). If money allows, I STRONGLY recommend starting a workout class that meets three times a week. I do a HIIT class with all types of circuit interval exercises. It not only keeps me accountable, but I’m doing things that I never considered on my own- things that I can now do on my own in the future. It’s such a great stepping stone!

  5. Avatar Vernice says:

    I have about 90 lbs to lose and all I have to go on is things I saw on Pinterest. With my diet I decided to eat clean and have one cheat day to keep it real. Excercise I’m a bit at a loss, although I signed up for gym and have been going pretty regularly. I’ve got a vague goal to run a marathon, so most of my time I spend on the treadmill, but I also did a yoga class last Saturday which was intense and had my body burning, but I loved it and definitely want to go again. Is there anything else I should be doing or doing differently?

    • Avatar Sandy Fouse Eplett says:

      HI Vernice~ Great job at being proactive at your fitness and health goals! Sometimes the hardest part of that journey is just getting started! With over 20 years in the fitness industry; I have helped 100’s of people with their fitness journey. Let me know if I can be of any help to you. You can email me at fitnesscoach4you@gmail.com or FB me at Sparked Up Fitness

  6. Avatar Work-Of-Art says:

    Let’s just take down all the mirrors at the gym, forbid people without evidence of a flab roll to enter, and just get in and get our workout done. Who’s with me?

  7. Avatar Mary S says:

    I see that our calorie count jumps by the amount of calories we burn. Doesn’t that negate the exercise we do if it is all added back by eating that amount?

    • Avatar YeaOk says:

      There is another blog on myfitness pal that addresses this question that was posted yesterday. I tried to put the link in the comments but it won’t allow me to

  8. Avatar Lauren says:

    I started Insanity this week and let me tell you there is no doing it lazily! it is really rough but I am taking it day by day and hoping seeing some results in a few weeks will keep me going!

  9. Avatar clg says:

    Another good idea: you don’t have to work out every day. It’s that simple. You don’t. If you exercised yesterday, and you’re sore and don’t feel like it…don’t!! Come back to it tomorrow! You shouldn’t make excuses to take “off days” every day, but if you force yourself when you really aren’t feeling it, it can exacerbate burn out. Everyone is different, though. Some people feel a better drive from pushing through it. Listen to yourself!

  10. Avatar Greg Dahlen says:

    Well, for me walking works because I get things done as I walk, errands and such. I think exercise is more meaningful if you’re getting something else accomplished as you exercise, not just exercising to be exercising.

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