Below are some general guidelines for healthy individuals. NO PAIN NO GAIN? True(ish). MORE PAIN MORE GAIN? Absolutely false!
The “PUSH YOURSELF” messages in workout facilities and magazines can be motivational, but some people take it too far. Others, on the other hand, are afraid of injury, cardiovascular, or respiratory issues and don’t know how far they can safely push themselves. Below are some general guidelines for healthy individuals. Individuals vary in their perception of pain and medical histories, so seeking guidance from an experienced trainer and medical professional is always recommended.
If you are training at the intensity that will maximize results, you will probably feel pain at some point. Completely new workouts usually cause the most pain, both during and in the days after. In your first spin class or heavy lifting session you might feel fatigued less than halfway through, feel strong burning in your muscles, and have trouble getting up from a chair for the next few days. On the other hand, workouts to which you are accustomed should not cause severe pain during or after unless you are progressing too quickly, which reduces or reverses results. During a typical workout you might feel burning, heart pounding, and/or heavy breathing. Toward the end your muscles might feel fatigued or like jelly, and you might be very out of breath. Or, if you have an adrenaline rush you might feel pumped up and pain free. With a proper cool down and stretching you will often feel tightness or slight soreness for a day or two, but should be fully functional.
If you experience any of the following, you are probably pushing too hard or not recovering properly (which, again, will REDUCE OR REVERSE YOUR RESULTS!):
Even though you are pushing just as hard, you keep slowing down, lifting less, or failing sooner – starting earlier in the workout, not just the last few minutes.
Consistently being so sore after a workout that it hurts to do everyday tasks, even if you cool down and stretch correctly.
Working out at the same intensity feels much harder than it usually does, and you are slower or weaker than usual. We all have some days better than others, but if it’s a big difference listen to your body.
Dizziness or extreme light-headedness (slight light-headedness could be runners high)
Joint pain, including back, knees, hips, ankles, and wrists
Feverish symptoms after a workout
Headache, nausea, or vomiting
More than 1-2 minutes so out of breath you can’t talk
Pushing yourself through some discomfort or pain is necessary. Pushing too hard might make you feel tough, but will sabotage your efforts at best and at worst could cause serious injury or health issues. A better way to feel tough? Try having the discipline to eat clean, get a full night sleep, practice mindfulness/spirituality, take care of your responsibilities, and make time for loved ones. Now THAT is pushing yourself the right way!