3 Top Tips to Avoid Workout Burnout


Published: June 7, 2016


Intense workouts like Shaun T’s Insanity and other high intensity pursuits are all the rage these days. Shaun T’s energy level is as insane as his workouts and I love him, but sometimes workout programming like his makes it unnecessarily hard for even advanced exercises. Today I’m going to focus on three issues that I’ve found with HIIT workouts that can make them harder than they should be. And I’ll share three fixes that you can use to get all the intensity out of your workouts without feeling like you have to pass out by the end of it.

But first, let me clear something up. Your workout should be challenging, but not so hard that you feel the urge to vomit at the end. The only requirements are that you’re challenged enough to raise your heart rate and that you sweat and have a good time. When those requirements are met, you’ll burn calories and still feel the desire to show up for your workout the next day. And showing up consistently is where the rubber meets the road or in our case how you get the results you want.

Let’s dive In

Issue #1: Not Taking Rest Breaks

While you want to make sure that you’re moving as much as possible during your workout, rest breaks are absolutely critical to ensure that your muscles can keep going through the entire workout. There’s no point killing yourself in the first 10 minutes and feeling like crap for the last 10 minutes. How you feel at the end of your workout will have a huge impact on whether you show up for the next one, so your goal when you start is to go hard enough to challenge yourself but not so hard that you can’t finish without looking at your timer or your trainer with less than happy feelings.

The Fix: Build Short Rest Breaks Into Your Routine

Your rest breaks can be as little as 10 seconds. You want just enough time to catch your breath, but not so much that your heart rate gets all the way down. The two rules that I have for rest breaks are that you keep moving i.e. walk around your workout space and that you give yourself enough time to get what you need to keep going. The second rule just means that you have time for a quick sip of water or a towel wipe over your brow.

Coach Sneak Peek: My rest breaks are 10 to 15 seconds long and they do the trick. I still get that wiped “I’ve kicked butt feeling” at the end of my workouts, but I walk away feeling like I’ve won and the day is mine for the taking. So pick a rest break time that has you walking away feeling like a winner.

Issue #2: Working the Same Muscles Back to Back

If you’re a bodybuilder who is trying to gain size, working the same muscles with heavy weights back-to-back is a great strategy. But as a woman who wants to get lean and svelte, there’s no reason for that. There are also some downsides to this:

  1. You increase the chance that you’ll get hurt because it’s really hard to do an exercise with proper form with tired muscles
  2. You don’t burn as many calories with your workouts when you don’t do the moves with proper form. Your muscles are not working efficiently, and efficient work gets you maximum results

The Fix: Alternate Muscle Groups

You can still get the heart health gains and the lean body gains by alternating muscle groups. Doing this will allow you to rest one muscle while the next one is working. An example of this is to do a lower body move followed by an upper body move then a core move. By the time you circle back to your legs, they would have recovered enough for you to go all out again.

Coach Sneak Peek: My workouts are very predictable because I abide to this fix religiously. I don’t like pain, so  cycle between muscles in addition to the rest breaks I take I. So I’ll do a leg exercise followed by a push up, followed by a core exercise. An example would be a circuit of Burpees with a Push Up, followed by a Curtsy Lunge, followed by a Spiderman Plank. Three effective exercises that use similar muscles, but not so much that you’re burnt out at the end of the circuit

Issue #3: Prioritizing Speed Over Form

If you’re able to go full speed on your workouts with good form, then absolutely go for it. But going fast on your workouts with sloppy form not only earn you a faster track to injury-ville, it also reduces the number of calories that you burn. Your muscles work more efficiently when they are used to execute the exercise in the way it was designed.

The Fix: Put Form Above Everything

Proper form means you’re recruiting the intended muscle groups to get the results you want. There’s nothing wrong with reworking the order of your workouts if you feel that it’s too hard the first order around.

P.S. When you work the muscles as the exercise intended, you’ll get the results you want!

Do any of the issues I’ve identified sound familiar in your workouts? If so, what do you intend to do about it?

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About Ejiro Ogenyi

EJ (Ejiroghene) is a Lifestyle Coach and owner of the Team by EJ Ogenyi LLC. She helps busy women lose weight without taking their eyes off their other priorities - their families, their careers, their wallets, and their lives. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and she enjoys bringing her skills and her experience losing weight herself to the awesome task of helping her clients create healthy lives and bodies that they absolutely love. She is also a wife and mama to a beautiful little boy.

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