As a personal trainer, people expect me to yell at them, blow the whistle, make sure they’re working hard enough, and all that jazz. I do a fair amount of that–I believe in giving people what they want, and that’s usually what they need from me. But just as often I have to tell people to dial it back and quit pushing themselves so hard. That knocks them for a loop.
They even protest and argue about it. “But I’m getting such great results!” They’re usually right. It is because they’re getting such great fitness results that they need to back off now and then. I’m speaking sort of as a hypocrite here. I’m addicted to training. I love to go to the gym and wear myself out. But I’m old enough now to know that there is a price to be paid for going too hard, for too long. Sometimes this becomes apparent in one terrible incident, such as an injury that arrives uninvited and without warning. This can happen even during a relatively safe movement like the pull-up.
Sometimes it’s just the cumulative fatigue that sets in and slowly saps the will to train from you. This happens to me a lot more than injuries. I always lift safely, but I haven’t always lifted wisely. Once someone gets into a great training routine, sometimes the missing component becomes what they were doing so much of before their gym-life: resting! They’ve gone from constant rest and a sedentary lifestyle to driving themselves too hard, at too great a cost.
There is a balance. It isn’t hard to find. This is usually how I gauge my own overtraining and the state of my nervous system: if I want to lift, I’m usually okay. But if I’m not looking forward to really getting after it, that’s usually a signal that I should stay home and get some sleep and food.
It’s okay to ease up sometimes. Not only is it okay, it might be just the thing you need to fight through the plateaus that we all hit. Enjoy it! That’s the whole point of training!