Are you addicted to exercise?

CrossFit Games star Patrick Vellnerthe bronze medalist from last years Gamessaid many high-level CrossFit athletes he knows seem to think more, more, more training is always better.

It has almost become sort of a pissing contest between a few athletes to see who can do more volume,Vellner said of many elite exercisers.

Truth is, though, you dont need to be an elite athlete to be addicted to working out. In fact, I would argue its just as likely for a lifestyle worker-outer to be addicted to exercise as it for an Olympic athlete.

A 2013 article in the Sports Medicine Journal said theres a fine line between a healthy commitment to working out and full-blown unhealthy addiction. It said:

The findings suggest that an individual who is addicted to exercise will continue exercising regardless of physical injury, personal inconvenience or disruption to other areas of life including marital strain, interference with work and lack of time for other activities. ‘Addicted’ exercisers are more likely to exercise for intrinsic rewards and experience disturbing deprivation sensations when unable to exercise. In contrast, ‘committed’ exercisers engage in physical activity for extrinsic rewards and do not suffer severe withdrawal symptoms when they cannot exercise. Exercisers must acquire a sense of life-balance while embracing an attitude conducive to sustainable long-term physical, psychological and social health outcomes.

So which one are you? A healthy exerciser or an unhealthy addicted one?

5 signs and symptoms of exercise addiction

1.You sneak in extra workouts

Do you leave a training session and feel like you need more? Do you often say things like, Thats it? Thats all were doing today?After 5 x 5 heavy back squats and a 1,000-m full-effort row in class, do you sneak off and go for a 5-mile run?

2. You cant remember your last rest day

Do you enjoy your rest days? Or do you not think you need them? Do you feel guilty when you do take a day off? Do you still show up to the gym to train even when you have serious DOMs?

3. You work through sickness and injury

Do you continue to train when you have a bad cold, chills and a fever? You pretend youre feeling fine, but everyone around you is telling you to go home? Do you show up and work through pain when youre visibly injured?

4. Bad mood

Do you find yourself in a bad mood when you havent gotten your workout in yet? Do you find yourself angry, stressed or anxious before youve had a good sweat?

5. Vacations are avoided

Do you avoid planning vacations because youre worried youll get out of shape? Or choosing vacations that will allow you to keep training each day youre there? Or having an anxiety attack wondering if the hotel youre staying at has a gym? And the moment your plane lands, is your first priority finding a gym?

If you can relate to the above situations, you just might have an addiction on your hands.

5 Coping Strategies to Combat your Addiction

1. Talk to you coach for life

One of the reasons you have a coach for life when you train with us is to help you through, not just your physical limitations, but also your emotional ones. And also, to educate you about the why behind training.

So if you find yourself questioning whether youre training enough, or are feeling anxiety because you did two relatively light training days in a row, ask your coach why the programming has been the way it has. Chances are theres a method behind the alleged madness: Maybe your coach is purposely giving you a deload week because he has big plans next week and doesnt want you overtrained heading into a heavier volume week next week.

The point is its important to communicate with your coach so you can feel good about, and understand, the path youre on.

2. Listen to your body

Sometimes your body knows best, so let it be your guide.

If youre incredibly sore, or are feeling depleted, for example, take a guilt-free rest day, even if it wasnt in your planned schedule for the week. Your performance will thank you for it.

3. Go for a walk or a swim

If you have trouble taking rest days, at least take an active recovery day. This can mean going for a walk, doing a yoga class, or going for a light bike or swimanything that wont contribute to beating you down more, but might still fulfill your need to exercise.

4. Learn the science

If you dont believe you have  problem, or you know youre addicted but you justify it by telling yourself its better to be addicted to exercise than booze, research the topic.

Youll discover theres science behind the importance of rest and recovery, and science to back up the dangers of training too much. When you read and absorb the science, you might be more likely to buy into the importance of developing a healthy relationship with your training.

Here are a couple articles about overtraining and exercise addiction to start:

Nature (

Active (

5. Write it down

Writing down your goals, as well as a training and recovery plan, is a great way to keep you accountable.

Keeping track of your performance numbers, as well as how your body feels, goes a long way, too. Youll realize training more, more, more doesnt always mean better performance, and often even has the reverse effect on the way you feel and the way you perform.

The best tip of all, though, might be to be gentle on yourself. If you mess up and succumb to your addiction here and there, thats OK. If youre truly addicted, it will take a while to fix your relationship with exercise. Be patient with yourself and appreciate the small wins along the way, like learning to love your #RestDays.

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