Burnout Series “Fitness Burnout”

You feel it. A nervous tick. You walk in the gym and it hits you…


Whether you are new or a veteran to the fitness world, you will at some point hit a plateau, or even possibly a brick wall. This can occur at any stage of your journey.

Fitness burnout is not necessarily a physical depletion in terms of your workout routine or the gains you are not seeing in the mirror, but more of a mental barrier that one must overcome if they are to continue to produce results. Can it have physical implications? Of course it can. In fact, we begin to notice this when we are in the act of performing our workouts.

I’ll give you an example of a time I experienced this:

I was going on five years of competitive swimming. I made it to the college level, I had been training throughout the summer, fall, winter, everyday basically, aside from a two week vacation I would get in August, but was told beforehand that it would be wise to stay in the water. Getting to college two weeks early, I began my short college swimming career doing two to three workouts a day, consisting of time in the gym, A LOT of time in the pool, and every other day, a three to five mile run.

Needless to say, I could feel it.

The workouts were piling on and I was dreading the thought of having to jump in the water at 0600 AM, only to return at 1200 PM for another round. I was done, but something kept me going. And I didn’t like it at all.

Then in November, I was in a car accident. It wasn’t a major crash, but it was enough to put me out for two weeks as precaution. I felt a weight off my shoulders when I was told that I couldn’t swim, and soon realized that this was really a problem. The very thing that I worked so hard to earn, a spot on a college team, was everything I didn’t want anymore. I burnt out.

After the two weeks were up, I noticed that I was giving myself excuses not to show up to practice. “I’m sick. I have class. Just five more minutes.” The list goes on. Looking back, I really wish I didn’t do that. And as soon as I left the team, I found myself looking for a pool. I began coaching, began swimming on my own time, teaching private lessons, teaching club teams and youth teams. I ended up posting some of my best times after that fateful event. But why? Why did I quit? Look at how far I’ve come.

I kept trying to tell myself that I made the right decision, but I knew I was so wrong. I could’ve had an amazing season, put those times on the board, help the team, but that was all gone.

The point I am trying to make is this: Just because you feel like there’s no potential left inside you, no way to get over the wall or get out the slump, that is the very same moment when you find out that there is no wall.

I took a look back, took a deep breathe, and told myself that I’d never do that again. And to this day, I haven’t.

When we are at the burnout stage, we are at the cusp of greatness. When you feel that dismay or agitation that you have to do another rep, or that you have to run a mile or swim another 500 yards, that’s the difference right there. You will hate yourself in the moment, but after you’re done, you’ll feel like your own version of Micheal Phelps.

Don’t give up. If you need a break, that’s fine. Take a week off. Take some time to reflect on what you can change to re spark your attitude.

Since my time on the swim team has passed, I have bounced back from every slump I have had. If I noticed I hadn’t changed my routine after a few weeks or months, I’d mix it up. I would throw in some running, I would throw in some extra heavy lifts or throw in some rock climbing, which was a recent one, and insanely hard, but I got my creative juices flowing and got the burnt flame going again. Threw some gasoline on the fire and off I went!

Let this blog find you at your slump. Let it light your fire again.

Get back to work. Mix it up.

You’re not finished. You’ve only just begun.

Published by thementalhealthminute

The Mental Health Minute was started as a way for individuals to come together and talk about their own mental health struggles, as well as seek advise from others on how to deal with these areas of their life.

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