These are the signs you have a toxic relationship with exercise

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When you think about exercise, is your first thought *ugghhh*?

Does it feel like such a chore that you’d actually rather vacuum your apartment then go to the gym? If you’re reading this thinking yes, that is so me, then you may have a toxic relationship with working out. Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) is a real condition and doesn’t just apply to athletes; signs are usually most prevalent in regular gym goers who are desperate to lose weight, build muscle, or reach an extreme fitness goal. Some tell-tale signs of OTS are:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor performance
  • Mood changes
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of motivation
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Heavy, sore and stiff muscles

OTS can also be brought on by external stressors such as work or personal issues as well as extreme training. Working out should feel exciting, rewarding, challenging, and be a stress reliever. It should be a part of your day that you look forward to the most, not something you are constantly dreading. You don’t have to work out for two hours every day to be fit and reach your fitness goals. You just need to work out a tailored plan to fit your lifestyle and keep things exciting.

By going to the gym every day and doing the same weights or cardio program, it is very easy to start to lose motivation or to stop seeing progress.

Here are some tips to bring the spark back into your workouts:

1. Change your programme every eight weeks

Changing your workouts every eight weeks (even if it’s just a slight difference in reps and rest periods), can be exciting as it’s something new and different to look forward to. It will also shock the body into recruiting new muscles, which will make you stronger and you won’t get bored!

2. Set eight week goals

Get a training diary and set yourself achievable goals for each eight week block. Track every workout and make sure to note how you feel that day. It’s okay to have an off day because of work, sickness or personal issues. Writing things down makes you accountable and encourages you to push harder to achieve the end goal.

3. Alternate workouts

You don’t have to stick to cardio and weights every day, trying different activities will keep you interested and also allow you to use muscles you wouldn’t usually. Why not try rock-climbing, boxing, yoga, parkour, ninja training, trampolining or adult gymnastics?

4. Find a training partner and get competitive!

There’s nothing better than having a training buddy as it will keep you motivated and gives you someone to compete against. Training with someone stronger or fitter then you is actually a good thing as it can motivate you to keep up and could be the necessary push to help you up your training game.

5. Try short and intense workouts

Are you simply short on time? Try circuit training such as high intensity interval training (HIIT) with minimal rest. Not only is it one of the best ways to burn fat, it can also be cardiovascular, and strength based at the same time. You can use an app or You-Tube and find a circuit that suits your needs and then sweat it out. Not only will it challenge you, but can be done and dusted in 45 minutes.

6. Workout from home

Can’t get to the gym? Do an at home plyometric (jump training) and bodyweight workout in 20 minutes. Think squat jumps and lunges, push-ups, dips, burpees etc. Not only is it effective, but a change in environment can be a great way to mix up your routine.

7. Use a personal trainer

Trainers take the guesswork out of workouts for you, they will tailor your workout plan and make sure you are doing something different to keep you motivated. Having a good trainer is also a great way to make sure your getting the most out of the time you are spending at the gym. If you don’t want to splurge on a trainer, group classes or a boot camp are also a great way to keep fit and meet new people.

8. Switch up your workout time

If you always train at night after work, consider getting up a bit earlier and training before work. Training early can be a great way to start then day and it also means if you’ve had a bad day you don’t need to think about dragging yourself to the gym after work. Working out in the morning can also improve your general mood for the day as it releases lots of feel-good endorphins.

9. Try use some supplements for energy and recovery

Supplements can be a great way to help supercharge your body whilst it’s trying to recover. There are many types of supplements which can help you with energy, strength, endurance and recovery without being stimulant based. Glutamine, creatine, beta alanine, citrulline and B vitamins are all great supplements to help your body recover. I also love the Bulk Nutrients BCAA’s as it not only helps my muscle soreness, but also shortens my recovery time.

10. Don’t be afraid to take a rest week.

Resting is just important as training itself. Training makes you temporarily weaker and resting helps you to get stronger. Having a week off every now and then will not only help you to reset your training program and go back into with fresh eyes, it will also help your body to mentally and physically recover.

For more like this, try these natural energy-boosting strategies to avoid a workout burnout. Plus, if you’re looking to switch your workout routine up, you need to try this 5-minute workout that will burn more kgs than an hour class.

Anna Davey is a Bulk Nutrients ambassador. Follow her on Instagram @anna.davey.

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Fitness | body+soul

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