It's a great idea to get into a steady gym routine, as working out is beneficial for your health, wellbeing, and well, sanity. (There's nothing so sweet as that endorphin rush.)
Yet, if you're crushing your HIIT workouts but are starting to feel a bit burnt out, it could mean you're overdoing your training and putting excess stress on your body. If you're overtraining, you could be putting your body in harm's way, where you'll be more likely to become fatigued and stop training or increase your risk of injury or overuse.
Here are a few ways to know if you've been hitting the gym too hard and should probably cut back.
Your Body Hurts A Lot
If you're feeling that weight in your legs and it's hard to make it out of bed in the morning, you could be pushing yourself too hard. You shouldn't feel chronic soreness and tension in your body, explains Rebecca Gahan, C.P.T, and owner and founder of Kick@55 Fitness in Chicago. If you're adequately foam rolling and stretching, but that tightness won't seem to dissipate, you could be putting too much strain on your body.
You're Super Tired
Similarly, if you're feeling really sleepy during the day, even when you're exercising and doing stimulating activities, it could mean that you're working out too intensely, for too long a duration, or too frequently, and your body just can't keep up. So, while you might get that endorphin boost mid-workout, if you're crashing afterwards and wake up feeling lethargic each day (when getting enough sleep), something needs to shift, she explains. Try adding in some rest days, or do core work on rest days, which is of lower intensity.
Your Hunger Levels Are Off
If you're overexercising, you might notice a suppression in appetite (which is dangerous, as you can be under-fueling and not getting the nutrients your body needs to recover), or a surge in appetite, where you're blasting too many cals and you're starving all the time. Your body gets depleted of nutrients and electrolytes when working out and sweating, she explains, so if you are always in need of something, it means you're not repairing muscle damage as you should and your body is under too much stress.
You're Having Mood Swings
You're happy, then you're grumpy. If you're overtraining, it can mess with your mood regulation, where you're unable to monitor emotions and might experience swings throughout the day. Too much exercise increases cortisol, the stress hormone, she says, which can change your mood. If your body is constantly high in cortisol, without that downtime to recover, it could make you more tense than usual.
You're Burning Muscle
Don't think you're going to bulk up fast if you start working out more. If you're overdoing it, especially in terms of cardio, you could be burning muscle, instead of fat, she explains. This can cause you to actually gain weight or retain water weight, and it can make you feel more "jiggly" than toned and defined, simply due to the excessive amount of exercise and the spikes in cortisol. (Cortisol can promote fat storage, FYI.)
A solution? Speak with a trainer to find a regimen that works for you. Stick with your plan, but don't push yourself too hard, to the point where you're hurting your health and hindering results.