Woman tired with towel resting in the gym after trainingEveryone wants to feel the burn, because let’s face it: that’s the true mark of progress in the workout world. It’s what lets you know you’re actually doing something, whether it’s tearing down muscles to make them stronger, or increasing your speed time on the treadmill. No, it’s not always fun, but it’s a milestone of becoming greater, stronger and healthier. The trick is, feeling the burn without feeling the burnout. Here’s why you’re experiencing it and how to keep strong—in mind and body—for the long haul.

You’re A Fitness Robot or a Viking

Fitness burnout could be caused by one or the other: you’re a robot (going through the same motions every day) or you’re a Viking, acting as though to can take more weight, perform more reps and indulge in the workout that professional athletes or Ironman championships do. And, that’s exactly what can cause major burnout, quicker than you can finish your reps.

It’s important to change up not only your fitness routine (to eliminate the risk of a plateau) but also because your body just wasn’t meant for high intensity exercise day after day. In addition, you don’t need it in order to lose those love handles, or increase your agility. All you need is to challenge your body with intervals in between periods of rest or lower intensity exercise. Start with 2-3 intense exercise sessions in between moderate exercise sessions. For example, on Monday take a spin class (high intensity), on Tuesday take a Pilates class, and spread out the intervals of high intensity/low intensity work outs that vary in terms of conditioning, strengthening and endurance.

You Don’t Give Yourself a Day Off From the Gym

Tired young man lying on his back in the gymAre you focused at the gym and making progress, or focused without making progress? If you’re not making as much progress as you’d like (you’re not increasing the weight you use, your time isn’t improving, you don’t have the intensity or focus that you normally do), consider yourself burned out. If you aren’t taking a day off to recover and rest from a few days of a hard workout, you’re not tough, and you’re not hard core. You’re on the brink of losing your focus, drive and inspiration to continue improving your body—that’s a fact. To maximize your time that you work out, schedule in a day or two of rest, say a Wednesday and a Sunday. You’ll notice the different right away, and find that your mojo is just a rest day away.

By following these tips, you can avoid burnout, plateaus and fitness pitfalls at the gym. Where there is a will, there’s a way, so exercise with strategy and you’ll soon have the body you want with a motivational mindset that won’t quit!