GymTalk: Overworking and resting for workouts?

One thing I have experienced is being overworked or 'burned out.' This situation can happen in good things too like working out, socializing, work, and even art.

People take a few steps to get to the right approach to burnout. Oftentimes, people do not recognize or address it. That is a big mistake-- culminating in a fugue 'steady state' of depressive lows punctuated by manic highs.

2. If you recognize it, you are already on the path to recovery.

The source of burnout is often cited as 'overwork'. So people rest and relax more.

That make sense, but it does not really address the source.

3. The source is not just work. Sports are more 'work', but they are fun and people pay for it.

People actually love working. People spend ungodly hours looking up, quizzing, and testing themselves on sports stats. They dig up archane knowledge, and they actually spend money to watch someone do something.

Could you imagine liking your work so much that you would be willing to spend money on it like you do hobbies?


It is a valuable mindset to examine.

Sidenote: I have a whole rant on this topic of liking what you do and how you make money. The can and likely should eventually be separate. Or at least somewhat independent. Why? Becuase a robust income money system is multifactorial. As is a robust life and enjoyment system. If everything is too tightly coupled -- you are asking one thing to do too many things -- are you lack redundancy, durability, and robustness.

4. The source is stress.

Burnout is stress. It is both lack of ability to process stress and lack of rest. But those are both also predicated on lack of perspective.

The perspective can change everything. That is the story of the bricklayer. That is the story of the MMA champion. What are you going? I'm laying bricks for money compared to I am buiding a cathedral. What is your favorite part? I love practice.

5. Approach to address it.

Consider the stressful parts. With working out, it is often the high intensity portions. They tax the nervous system. Keep the same workout, but instead process fewer instense sessions. Keep some because you need them.

Workout more often, but less intense (credit to Firas Zahabi). He is a trainer for MMA and jiu jitsu greats, most notably George St Pierre. He says you should never be sore after a workout. Now if you went in, and tried a workout, at the intensity of the room, you might be sore. If you are sore, it is too hard, and so your answer is to build your endurance, build your capacity. I knew someone who trained with a top state cross country runner all summer. They ran the same miles, same times. The top runner went on to an amazing season. But the person who started out at too high of an intensity was injured and could not even get started training when practice season, much less competition season, came around. The difference? The top runner had built up all the ligaments, tendons, bone density, muscle endurance over time. They might have been running the same time, same distance, but one person knew how to rest, eat, sleep, etc. and had a system with better capacity for processing those workouts, than the other person.

So the approach?

  • Do not eliminate, but decrease sessions of peak intensity. Continue to work out.

  • Variety. Variety is fun.

  • Accomplishment. Find ways to make it an accomplishment. Or. Reject the need to validate yourself through some outward facing metrics.

  • Mental is the biggest part. Some people want to be seen running. They want equipment and spectators and cheering and social validation through apps. It is a drug, which is to say an enhancement. There are people who are able to run a marathon only by the the skin of their teeth completing it and with thousands of cheering people. That is lame compared to someone who walks 5 miles a day to work each way. The second person is more fit, the second person has the correct mental game, the second person is living a life. The first person has not even figured out the game yet.

  • Mental is the biggest part. Some people blame lack of equipment. Go running. If it is possible to go running or bike commute year round in Minnesota where the winter temps in the morning and evening are -10F to +10F for months out of the year, then you can figure it out wherever comparatively temperate climate you live in. Or get an indoor bike. Or join a gym. But lack of equipment? Lack of many factors, but equipment is oftentimes not one. Equipment is cheap if you know what you are doing. The lack is lack of know-how. The best money I ever spent was actually on books. I read a lot of books. The best time I ever spent was in the gym experimenting. On youtube there is so much. Online there is so much. The book content is definintely available. But you need a book to organize all the mess that you read about. The biggest part is the context, the understanding.

  • Equipment is not an issue. Eventually you get to it, but to start? Walk around the damn block. You want to do weights? Lift a jug of milk. A schoolbag full of books. Buy a heavy duty canvas cotton duffle bag on eBay ($30), buy sand or fill it with rocks ($20 for >100 lbs). But do you know what to do with it? The biggest part is knowing what to do with it. With understanding, you can do squats, bench, powercleans, overhead press, saggital, transverse, and frontal movements. Without knowledge and skill? No idea. You end up buying the wrong thing and not knowing what to do with it.

6. Summary: Have fun.

Be ethical.
Be helpful to people.
Be loving.
Have fun.