When do I know if I need to rest and/or deload?
There are thousands of images/posts out there all screaming the same thing at us. "Don't Give up!" "Keep pushing!" "Pain is weakness leaving the body!" "No Excuses!" We have it planted in our heads that if we don't go balls to the wall, we are weak, we are failures, and we will never see the end goal in mind.
Let's take Jeff as an example. He lives his life by the mentality I talked about above. Every day he runs 5 miles, lifts for an hour and a half, and his diet is ON POINT. Sounds great right?? On the surface it sounds like an elite athlete.. But we may not know whats going on behind the scenes. Jeff is constantly getting sick, his weight or his mileage is not increasing, and he's actually a lot more lethargic then usual. It is very obvious then Jeff here.. IS OVER TRAINING.
What is happening to Jeff's body?
Well to put it simply, your body can't keep up with the workload you are giving it. You live in a sympathetic state and your RHR (resting heart rate) is way higher than it needs to be. With this comes a chain reaction of poor sleeping patterns, decreased motivation, increased anxiety and the worst... diminishing returns on all the work you are doing week in and week out. The immune system is shot and all the Emergen-C and Tylenol in the world won't help you here.
I thought pain/soreness means you are working hard!
Such a common misconception. The dude grunting and squirming with a deadlift..using every available resource in his body.. Straining to high heaven.. He's not impressive. The guy doing half the weight not missing a beat, good form and 0 pain.. THAT'S impressive. All soreness means is that you are not recovering well. If it lasts longer than a day( delayed onset muscle soreness) then you really need to take a look at your recovery methods.
As far as pain during your workouts.. Please, please learn the difference between lactic acid build up and joint pain. That burn you get in your pecs during your third set of push ups is completely normal.. Once that pain starts going to your elbows, shoulders and wrists, it's a big red flag. Re-evaluate the exercise, listen to your body, and adjust accordingly.. You are NOT accepting defeat.. That would be if you just went home.. You have nothing to prove and this is YOUR workout. Leave your ego outside of the gym.
Simple. Whatever you are lifting/struggling with.. Decrease the weight by 50% for one week. If it's body weight, change the angle or use assistance bands. Focus on eating wholesome foods, drink less alcohol and try your best to get 7-8 hours of sleep. I can just about promise that next week you will feel like a new person!
NO. EGO. IN. THE. GYM!