How do you know you’ve burnt out from exercise?

We are all told about how we need to exercise more or move more and whilst this may be true for a lot of the population it is easy to get burnt out and even burnt out from exercise. There are many different signs to suggest that we are heading towards an exercise burn out or have reached that burn out. Many of them are general symptoms, but when it’s all put together with what you are doing, how you are feeling and what is happening to you there may be an indication that you are suffering from exercise burnout.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Feeling exhausted:

    A feeling of exhaustion is different to just feeling tired, It is a feeling of complete loss of all energy. It can lead you to feel like you have nothing left to give and it can be during the workout or following the workout and can even last for the rest of the day or the next day.

  • Irritability:

    We can become easily irritated from things that would not normally bother us. As we have less resilience and more sensitivity to things around us, mentally and socially. We continue to think about something minor that happened to us hours after it happened when normally it would go unnoticed. Irritability will generally occur with any type of burnout and burnout from exercise is no exception.

  • Post work out discomfort – not DOMS:

    DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is the soreness we can get after a training session particularly when first starting a program or implementing a new exercise. With DOMS we get a tightness/pain in the muscle belly so that is like in the front of our thighs or buttock muscles. Whereas post workout discomfort is when we get unusual pain or when symptoms are worse than normal. You may leave a training session with soreness, more than the usual initial fatigue soreness and feel completely drained of any energy.

  • Low motivation:

    Having less motivation is common when it comes to exercise but if you have been training regularly and consistently but start to find your motivation decreasing then it is important to find out what has changed for you? If you are heading towards a burnout from exercise and finding your motivation is decreasing then take a step back, have a rest and then get back into it.

    It’s ok to miss a session here and there or to have a week or more off (we need holidays too) before easing back into your training. It is the long-term consistency overall that is going to have the biggest impact, missing a couple of sessions is not going to impact that.

  • Reduced performance:

    Have you been training harder, longer or more often but are not noticing your performance improve? Or maybe your performance is even decreasing? This is one of the easiest signs to identify that you are heading towards a burnt out from exercise. Ensure you are giving your body a chance to rest to allow for recovery. Rest and recovery are an equally important part of an overall program as the exercise component as this allows our performance to improve.

  • Injuries:

    Injuries are definitely not just from being burnout but being burnt out can contribute to an injury. Our bodies need time for rest and recovery. Recovery for our muscles and tendons are just as important as the training part. When recovery in insufficient we are at an increased risk of injuries due to breakdowns. The muscle or the tendon will breakdown and not handle the load we are asking of them. This could be in the form of a muscle strain or tear, a tendinopathy or we are tired and make a poor choice in a match situation to reach further than we know we are capable of or go up for a mark we know we have no chance of getting which puts us in a compromised position.


These are just some symptoms, you could have some or all of them or even others not listed. If you feel that you could be suffering from exercise burnout a good start is to record your work out then putting a rating or feeling score after that workout. It is very easy to forget how we felt very quickly and being able to visually see a pattern can assist. You can also seek the advice of a professional to assist in recommendations for reaching your goals. Remember that rest is ok and needed to allow for adequate recovery to occur.

To prevent burnout from exercise and discover new programs, our professional and friendly physiotherapists will gladly help you. Contact MD Health on (03) 9857 0644 or you may also book online using this link.


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