One of the hardest things for a regular gym goer can be knowing the difference between DOMs and fatigue.
Most of us are aware of the concept of over training, but in reality most of us don’t really hit genuine over training territory, we can however reach the point of real fatigue, which could unchecked put us at risk of overtraining.
The key is knowing the difference between your body feeling DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which can be a normal sign that you have pushed your body harder than normal in a particular training session or accross a particular week, but which should go within a day or two, being tired (which could be because of lack of rest/sleep) and actual fatigue.
Fatigue is more than being tired, it can manifest itself in a variety of ways that go beyond just feeling a bit kanckered, including; difficulty concentrating, having less stamia than normal, difficulty sleeping or sleep not making you feel any better, anxiety, lacking motivation and feeling less enjoyment from things you normally like to do. These symptoms also normally last for longer than those of pure tiredness and can feel more intense making everything feel harder not just your training.
From experience I would say that fatigue can also make your body feel sore, giving you almost DOMS like symptoms, which can sometimes lead us to thinking we have DOMS which we can just push past when in fact our bodies are probably fatigued and need a real break.
Normally, and as long as you act quickly enough a few days down time (mentally as well as physically) will often get you back to feeling ok again.
So the key is recognising in yourself when you are tired because you’ve worked hard and when you are geninely fatigued and at the point of needing a rest.
For me, the key give away if enjoyment. I don’t mind DOMS normally as they normally occur when my training is going well. When I start to feel frustrated in sessions or start making excuse not to train and everything hurts I know the time has come to take a few days off and regroup.
The key here is learning to listen to your body as we all react in different ways and recognise and react to your own body. Overtime you may see patterns which you can then work around to ensure you don’t reach the point of fatigue.
The most important thing to remember is no matter how much you like training sometimes you need to rest.