How Do You Know When to Take a Break?

I am curious how other lifters know when to dial down their intensity or modulate their intensity to avoid burn out while training. What are some of the signs that you’ve been pushing yourself too hard. On the other hand, what are some signs that you could be pushing yourself harder?

Essentially, how do you find that sweet spot combination of volume, intensity and frequency in your training that leads to progress without burn out or injury?

my shoulders hurt. That’s honestly the only indicator I really go by. You’ll always have good days and bad days no matter how well you’ve been eating, sleeping etc., but once you feel a niggle coming on it’s time to chill a bit

For me, calf and forearm pain are about the only indicators that I’m not recovering well. They’re areas that never get sore normally, and whenever I start experiencing bouts of it, it won’t be long before I hit some major stalls.

In terms of knowing when to stop BEFORE that happens, generally, if I don’t want to train, I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy training, but I enjoy getting stronger and I know training is necessary to accomplish that. However, if I find myself dreading a training session, I just flat out don’t do it, as it’s a sign that something is going wrong.

As for “what are signs you could be pushing yourself harder”, I just measure results. If I’m making progress, I keep doing what I’m doing, because it’s working. If I’m not making progress, I’m more inclined to add more than to take away.

For me, I normally have the immune system of a rock, I’m immune to everything, so for me a waning sign is when I start to feel “under the weather”. That usually means I’m pushing everything too hard and need to spend a day or two chilling out.

I get weaker on the big lifts when I have been training too hard for too long. I find it is much harder to overdo it with a 6 day split rather than total body or upper lower split with higher frequency.

I don’t remember needing to back off when I was younger; for reference I am 39.

Shoulder pain definitely but really joint pain all together. Elbows, knees, and shoulders. Achilles can flare up every once in a while. I try to deload once or if these symptoms occur, or I won’t train at all.

Lack of sleep is another. If I cant get good quality sleep the night before, more times than not I won’t train that day.

But like other have said, you have your good days and bad regardless if everything is in check.

Thanks for the suggestions. I said in another thread that I injured my back Yoking. I did some thinking about the injury, which was probably a result of going too hard on squats the prior week and not resting, and I realized I need to tone down my workouts if I want to compete in November.

Basically I feel like if I don’t bust my ass I wont make progress. Invariably I end up getting burnt-out/injured and taking a week or two off or feeling completely demotivated. The adrenaline is addicting, I love the feeling of lifting a heavy keg or repping out on deadlifts with everyone screaming at you to push! I feel guilty when I take breaks, like im being lazy. I have been experimenting with cutting back and it has improved my training.

So my second question is: how do you modulate your workouts so you don’t injure yourself or go too hard and burn out. What have you learned that has taught you to pace yourself for big gains in the long run?

I have a scheduled deload every 8 weeks for lower body and 4 weeks for bench, which I find helps. Sometimes life happens too, and it’ll force me to take time off or cut a workout short.

I toyed around with the idea of a rotating deload, where every week, for 1 of my 4 lifting days, I’d just do the main lift and shut it down, versus doing some assistance work. Haven’t implemented it, couldn’t really say how effective it would be.

Since I’ve seriously switched training styles I feel I don’t need the same sort of deloads or breaks I used to.

Last week for example my performance was absolute shit in the gym. I only have a few “heavy” lifts in my current rotation. I was feeling tired and gross, and was only able to manage a 345x4 deadlift. My “coach” then granted me a “refeed” cheat meal at the end of that week. I fired up 355x12 next deadlift session. Had my performance still been poor I would have backed off for a week or so.