Jul 102010

Nowadays, there are a hundred and one ways to track and measure all kinds of body-stats. In a gym, most people you meet are sure to have a detailed workout-log (maybe even as a digital app with graphs and everything) and a heart-rate monitoring device. Not that they always use them, but they definitely have them…

In all this, it’s easy to forget that your body still gives you the most subtle and most important kind of feedback before, during and after your workouts. Most importantly, your body tells you exactly where your limits are.

You need to make sure that you push your limits when exercising, but you also need to make sure never to push too hard, too far. Basically, there are two types of people: Those who tend to be “lazy” and those who tend to over-do it.

If you belong to the former category, you’re mind is probably very good at coming up with excuses for why you should skip a workout or take it easy. You may do fewer sets than planned, get off the treadmill before reaching your target and have more “rest days” than you like to admit.

If you’re an over-doer, on the other hand, you probably have “tough guy syndrome”. You probably see suffering as something that’s almost positive, because you see it as a sign of a body and character growing stronger. You feel like you couldn’t forgive yourself for skipping a workout and you have a lot of negative self-talk that pops into your head at any sign of weakness or laziness.

In both cases, you need two things:

1. Someone to point out to you which type you belong to.
The problem is that we can’t ourselves tell which type we tend to be. You need someone who can objectively and truthfully tell you which type you are. Ask a friend or your trainer and believe their answer.

2. Learn to distinguish between two types of pain.
Pain is a part of working out, to a certain extent. However, there are two different kinds of pain. There’s the kind of pain that’s worse in your head than in your body. This is the kind of pain where you start thinking about how much more pleasant than working out almost everything else is… The kind where your muscles are burning and hurting, but still fully functional.

Then there’s the “deep pain”. This is the kind that goes beyond just a burning sensation and should not be ignored. This is the kind of pain where your body is truly telling you to take it down a notch and give yourself some rest.

In all likelihood, you’ve already experienced these two types of pain several times. It’s very important to be honest with yourself and face which kind of pain you’re experiencing. Don’t be a tough-guy and try to push past the “deep pain”. That will almost always lead to injury (and you know how long that takes you out of training, right?). On the other hand, don’t back down long before you’ve reached your limits. That will only limit your growth and progress. Burning muscles are part of the deal.

At the end of the day it comes down to being honest with yourself and being conscious of what’s really going on. Pay attention and learn to listen to your body. You’ll make more progress this way, that’s for sure.

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