Creating Your Anti-Exercise Plan
I see exercise martyrs all the time on social media and in the gym. Do any of these sound familiar?
The Virtuous Warrior, proud of persistence in the face of adversity:
My whole body is sore after my workout yesterday, but today I dragged my butt into the gym anyway.
The Approval Seeker, who is unsure what to do, but willing to obey what someone tells them:
My legs and abs are killing me today, should I work out anyway?
The Type A Competitor, who isn’t going to let a little pain stop them from beating their peers:
I’m sore, but I’m doing 12 sets today anyway. I’m not going to quit – that’s for losers.
Guilt and Shame As An Exercise Strategy, frequently seen in old-school coaching:
If you don’t hurt during and after every workout, you’re a weakling and a failure.
Brothers in Harms
Though they differ, you can see that they share things in common. They also stem from good intentions, at least partly.
- It’s an admirable quality to be able to stick with it and not make excuses for inaction.
- It’s a good idea to get good advice when you don’t know something.
- Competition can produce great achievements.
- Believing that you must improve can be motivating.
They just take those things too far. If you don’t allow your body to heal, you’ll end up overtraining. Even if you don’t get severe injuries, overtraining can manifest itself in other negative ways – stress, sleep problems, and depression. Ironically, it can also prevent muscle growth.
An Injury Of His Peers
When I first joined a gym, I was like the Virtuous guy above. I thought that pain equaled progress. Many people try exercise once, and because they overdo it, they get very sore and quit forever. More experienced exercisers know that moderate pain the day after exercise is not necessarily harmful as long as you wait for it to heal before starting again, allowing the body to build strength.
Exercise trends come along about once every 5 minutes. One rule of thumb that I still believe in, though, is that if you’re sore the day after a workout, allow yourself to recover before starting again. You should have one completely pain-free day before resuming exercise. To clarify, don’t exercise on that pain-free day, you’re using that day to consolidate your healing.
I hear people like me saying, “But I’m too impatient to wait even one day!” 🙂 For those of us who just can’t wait, on your “sore day” you could try exercising another part of your body that’s completely pain-free. If you’re very sore, though, even that could be too much.
It is possible to work out hard without resulting in pain the next day. My own approach is to work out very intensely, but briefly. I still slip up now and then and get sore, especially when trying a new routine, but I’m careful to let it heal before going wild again. Striking a balance between work and rest can be tricky – consider hiring a trainer if you aren’t exactly clear on the details of doing this.
Let us know in the comments if you’re overtraining, or know someone who is.