SWEATY and SORE..... Do you have to be to have a good workout??
After a training session there are all sorts of factors we use to gauge whether or not we have had a “good” workout. Unfortunately, the feedback that most people use and attribute to having a good workout isn’t the best indicator of future gains or progress. More often than not I hear people use the degree of soreness or sweatiness to determine how well they killed it in the gym. Here’s why that mentality will lead you astray:
Soreness after a workout used to be attributed to the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, however for a while now that theory has been debunked. The most widely believed cause of soreness after a workout is attributed to small microscopic tears that occur within the muscle fibers and the resulting inflammation (insert pain) that occurs as the body attempts to repair and rebuild itself (this is where protein consumption becomes important). The tearing of muscle fibers can come from either a strenuous workout where load (weight) is increased OR where new movement patterns are introduced to the body. Whenever the body is forced to adapt to a new stimulus soreness is likely to occur until the body has been able to adjust. Once this happens the level of soreness after a session is likely to decrease. That being said, all people may experience and exhibit (DOMS) soreness in varying degrees. This makes it a very subjective measurement for “success” in a workout. While you always want to change your training program to progress either load in certain staple exercises or by challenging your body with new movements patterns, which will cause soreness, being sore ALL THE TIME is no bueno. In fact, if you are sore more often than not it’s a good indicator that you may be overtraining. Constant soreness and inflammation in the body is a great way to find yourself injured and nobody wants that!
Just as I mentioned there is variation amongst people with regards to their experience of DOMS, the same is true for sweat. Not all humans perspire equally. Sorry. It’s true. On the same front, not all workouts cause the same output of sweat. If you were to run on the treadmill for 45 minutes you’d probably be drenched afterwards. However, I’d argue you’d have a more challenging cardiovascular workout if you did 3 Tababta’s back to back (total of 12 minutes…. don’t be fooled Tabata’s are DIESEL) and you’d probably sweat half as much. Other forms of movement such as Yoga and Pilates also don’t produce a lot of sweat but are incredible for core strength, flexibility, breathing, pelvic stability…. I could go on forever.
So, what’s the point of this post? I want you to expand the way you frame a “good workout”. Forget the myths that you have be drenched in sweat and sore for days after each session (also remember the lactic acid myth is whack too). Instead, ask yourself did your workout challenge your cardiovascular abilities? Did you try a new movement pattern that was previously not possible? Did you get stronger in a particular lift? Can you ignite your core muscles more effectively now than last week? Again, I could keep going on. All of these forms of feedback may not be present at every workout, but they are a great way of tapping back in and asking yourself what you are doing in your program and whether or not you are advancing.
Moral of the story: widen your perception on what you want your workouts to DO for your body. Focus on being a stronger more capable YOU. By identifying reasonable and attainable methods of training that safely get you to that place, there is no doubt you will see progress that can be measured in more significant ways than soreness and sweat!
From my Living Room to Yours,