Before I get into it, I want to start by saying this subject is very nuanced and personal. When it comes to workouts, everyone has their own idea of what hard is and what easy is for that matter. Strength is relative, but so is your workload during any given week. I am a firm believer in the more you do, THE MORE YOU CAN DO!
As you start training, whether this is your first time or you are just getting back into it, you are going to be sore, probably very sore. Soreness is uncomfortable but don’t let that discourage you. Go back the next week and do it again, and again, and again. Eventually you won’t be sore, and you’ll be ready to add more weight, more reps and even more workouts throughout the week. DO IT! You’ll start that process over again. Listen to your body, but ignore the negative little voice that will try to talk you out of it or tell you your soreness is an injury.
Lots of people get stuck in a comfortable rut and believe that is where they need to stay. Until things like Diabetes, obesity, Osteoporosis and a litany of other diseases start peaking their heads and the doctor prescribes some exercise. At that point, many people can feel like it’s too late or that they don’t belong in a gym. It’s not true. Training can be uncomfortable, so get comfortable with the uncomfortable. The power of habit is strong and bad habits are hard to break. Take a moment and think about your habits and where they’re leading you. We can use this power of habit as a power of change to create new habits that will work for you instead of against you.
With that said there are times when you need to listen to your body and think twice. Know the difference between when something hurts due to soreness or you are injured. If you are injured then you might want to forgo the usual workout and maybe just work on what is causing that injury in the first place. The last thing you want to do is ignore it completely and think that the gym or physical exercise is just not for you. There is always something you can be working on.
The first question I ask when a client comes in is, “how are you feeling?”. I don’t stop at the usual response “good.” I dive a little deeper. How's the shoulder? How are the legs feeling from our last workout? What's your stress level like? How did you sleep last night? All of this will give me a good idea of how hard to push the client. Should we spend more time trying to fix an issue or is this person ready for a GRIND?
I do the same with myself in my own training. There are days when I need to just take it easy and work on my mobility, days when I need to hit the airdyne bike and challenge myself mentally. I call it “find the quitter.” This is where I push myself so hard I want to quit and see if I have the mental fortitude to push through. Then there are days when it's time to hit the weights like a bodybuilder. But learning how to do that comes with getting in the gym and doing it; again and again and again.