No Pain, No Gains? Signs You REALLY Need To Take A Break From Working Out

A few months ago, you were feeling great! Setting personal records, getting excited for each workout, and in a awesome mood. Now something is different. You ache, your progress has stalled, and your mood is taking a turn for the worse. Could it be time to take a break?

Anyone who really loves to train probably hates the idea of taking time off from the gym. That is where you are able to let go, get away from the world, and push your limits. It can be hard to let that go, even for a little while. Besides all of that, if you take time off, there can be a true fear of losing some of the gains you worked so hard to get.

The fact is, there are some signs that show that you REALLY need to take a break. Doing otherwise would actually leave you much worse off and halt, if not reverse, your progress. In this article, we will cover what some of those signs are and some easy ways you can take that much-needed time off.

Signs That You Need a Break

If you have been training for a little while, you are probably pretty in tune with your body. You know when things feel good and when they just feel off. You know when you’re gonna have an awesome training session and when things are not going to go so well. Because of this, you will have no issue realizing when the following things are occurring or, if they have occurred already.

Here is a list of 5 signs that can indicate you need a break.

Injuries or “tweaks”

This one is probably the most obvious but needs to be mentioned. If you are injured or feel like you’ve “tweaked” a joint or pulled a muscle, it is a good idea to take a break. Let your body heal. 99% of the time, working through an injury is a bad idea. This is not to be confused with working around an injury. That is often a good idea. The point here is to make sure that you rest whatever is injured when you have an injury. Sometimes, that may mean taking time off from working out completely, unfortunately.

take a break

Plateaus on lifts

One sign that you may be overworking yourself and could benefit from some time off is if your lifts are stalling out. If you have been progressing on your lifts from week to week then all of a sudden it stops and your program is solid and your nutrition is on point, it could be that you just need to take some time off and let your body recover properly. You’ll often find that when you come back, you are stronger than you were before you left and that you feel excited and eager to workout once again.

Terrible mood

We all have bad days where we are in a bad mood, but if you find yourself constantly in a bad mood when you are usually a bright and happy person, it could be because you need some rest. Overworking yourself to a large degree can affect your mood to the point where others can notice it. If it has reached that point, you really need to take some time off.

Getting sick

Heavily outworking yourself can damage immune function, leading you to be more susceptible to getting sick. So, if you usually don’t get sick, yet you find yourself getting sick, that can be a sign that you need a break. This is one of the signs that is usually coupled with another sign, as getting sick by itself can be caused by factors completely unrelated to working out. In other words, if you are sick and aren’t experiencing anything else on this list, you probably aren’t sick from overworking yourself. Either way, taking a break is a good idea whenever you’re sick.


When you really start to overwork yourself, it can even affect your sleep. If you are used to long, full nights of sleep and you’ve found that recently sleeping has been a struggle, then you may really need to take a break.

Having one of these things alone may be a sign you need rest, but having more than one of them means you really should take some time off. Don’t worry though, “time off” doesn’t’ necessarily mean you have to stop going to the gym.

Ways to Take a Break

Now that you know whether you need a break or not, here’s a few ways that you can take a break and give your body the needed rest it deserves. Obviously the easiest way to take break is to take time completely off. Yes, I mean stay away from the gym completely. Take about a week to just eat well, get good sleep, and REST. This tends to be the most difficult for serious lifters to do but if you have never done it before, doing so will really rejuvenate you. I definitely suggest this for those of you who may have never taken any sort of break before.

take a break

Another way you can take a break is to partake in “active rest.” To do this, simply do other forms of low impact, easy exercise for your time off. If you’ve been lifting, do some walking, stretching, light swimming, easy biking, etc. Do things to get the blood flowing but do not do anything challenging or strenuous. Some people literally don’t know how to do this though. They only know how to workout hard. So for those people, I suggest just taking the time off completely.

The last way you can take a break is to “deload.” This means you go into the gym and do your typical workout, but decrease the load you use. You can also do this by decreasing the amount of sets you do or the amount of exercises you do. The goal here is to just do significantly less than usual. This option is good for those who just can’t make it a week without hitting the gym. But, just like the last option, some may not be able to pull back enough. Once again, these people should use the first option and just stay away from the gym for the week.

Take-Home Message

So, if you haven’t take a break for a while and are experiencing any of the signs discussed above, do yourself a favor and take a break. Take some time off. Relax. You will feel better and will once again be excited to hit the gym once it’s over. You won’t lose all your gains. In fact, you will perform better after you take the time to rest. Even if you are someone who is not experiencing the signs shown above, it is still a good idea to take a break or deload every 6-8 weeks or so. This will make sure you are always fresh and ready to give the gym your best!

Bookmark this article so you can reference it later and share it with a friend that you know needs to take some time off! Remember, rest is your friend, especially when you’ve earned it.



Writer and expert

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