When it comes to being an advanced exerciser, you need to tune in to your body’s limitations and back off when it’s talking to you. Too many times I’ve seen people run themselves into the ground, causing injuries that set back their exercise progression. It is good to push and challenge the body, especially because our bodies operate off of the SAID principle when it comes to progression. If we don’t continue to challenge the body, it stops progressing, which is not a bad thing if you have reached your goals and you are ready to merely keep your present level of fitness. If you haven’t reached healthy fitness goals and you are looking for more from your workouts, continue to challenge yourself, but keep in mind a few rules so that you don’t end up setting yourself back more than you’re progressing yourself forward.
Proper progression is key. Trying to take leaps when your body is only ready for a step, is bound to cause an injury. You are better stepping up the intensity of your workouts slowly and giving your body time to recover and adjust to the new challenge, than going so intense that you get sore or strained for days, damaging the productivity of the workouts following the overly intense workout. I had a client early in my personal training career who told me she didn’t want to get sore at all and would quit exercising if she did. I took her request seriously and she still achieved high levels of fitness with slow progression and she didn’t have a sore muscle along the way. Remember, being sore doesn’t always mean you had a great workout. Soreness is connective tissue damage and when people are in shape, they don’t get as sore because the connective tissue has built up strength to handle everything they ask of it. At the beginning of an exercise program, very little can cause lots of soreness, a strain, or worse, so take baby steps initially. See how your muscles feel the next day and if you are not getting sore, step it up a slight bit in intensity and once again, see if you have any soreness the next day. Let your body decide what your appropriate progression should be. It knows best! Little to no soreness is telling you that you have a window to step things up. Medium to extreme soreness means to keep the workouts stable in intensity or back off.
When it hurts, don’t do it. There is a difference between good and bad pain. If you feel a twinge of bad pain in a joint or muscle, your body is telling you to back off. Never push through bad pain. You can turn a two day strain into a month long sprain or worse if you push it. It’s never worth it trust me. Most of the time if you catch an injury early, get ice on it and take an anti-inflammatory, and you will be back to the gym at full strength in a day or two. I’ve seen too many athletes think their performance will suffer if they don’t finish an event preparing workout at all cost. This is a very immature attitude to have with your exercising that can cost you far too much.
When you have an injury, don’t go into denial. Thinking an injury will go away on its own is not a good way to get yourself back to the gym quickly. Start with ice, an anti-inflammatory (like Ibuprofen), and rest and get to the physical therapist if your injury doesn’t subside quickly. Fresh injuries are always easier to treat than neglected injuries with built up scar tissue.
When you’re sick, don’t exercise. Exercising through sickness just tends to make it take longer for your body to get over the bug. Your immune system is at work, so be smart and don’t add further fatigue. Let the war inside end before you get back to the gym. My general rule is if I have symptoms from the throat down, I don’t exercise. If it is only in the sinuses, I use my discretionary judgement because sometimes I have mild allergies or a cold that I can harmlessly exercise through.
Your mind and your body are one, let them work together… When you feel something is off, be wise with your exercise and back off. The more in tuned you are with all your working parts, the more you will get out of your exercise and the healthier you will stay on route to your fitness goals. Happy exercising!