As my class grunts and groans through class, this is my mantra…”if it’s hurting, it’s working.” Of course, I mean that in cases when your muscles are fatigued to the point that you cannot lift, squat, push or press anymore without some difficulty, because that is a good thing. Certainly if you feel any intense pain, spasms or twinges, then something is obviously not right and you should either modify what you are doing or stop. But for argument’s sake, let’s stick with the good type of hurt.
“I don’t like these, they hurt”, “can we do a different exercise?”, “I think my arms are going to fall off”. I chuckle as I hear these cries of whoa from my ladies. I keep reminding them that it is all good for them, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. I try and explain to them that they need to exercise out of their comfort zones in order to see results and get the most out of their workouts. We may all mock those guys in the weight room who scream, grunt and make faces that look like they are in pain, but they are clearly working at a high capacity and challenging themselves on every rep. There is a reason that when you lift weights it is recommended that you go until failure. That is when you clearly know that you have completely taxed and exhausted your muscles. If you always go to twelve or fifteen on every set, not much is going to be gained—except boredom.
The funny part is that the next day, or even several days later, these same women compare areas of pain on their bodies and they love it! They realize that they did indeed push their bodies beyond what they thought they could do. They know that the pain or muscle fatigue that they are feeling is a sign of hard work. Many of us often joke that if we are not sore the next day then we don’t feel like we worked hard enough. But that is not necessarily the case. Quite often, your muscles will not be sore or achy; but what they will be is very tired. You will know this as soon as you go to pick up your child, hold a hairdryer above your head, or simply try to stand up from a seated position.
At the end of your workout, you should feel like you really did something challenging. You should feel tired. Your muscles should feel as if they cannot do one more thing. Your body should feel like you put it through the ringer. That is what exercise is all about—pushing yourself harder than ever, getting stronger, and improving your overall health. Whatever limits you think you have should be left at the door before you enter the gym and begin your workout. Truthfully, you should not have limits. You should always try to push harder or go faster, even if that means doing just one more rep than you did yesterday or adding just thirty more seconds to your run. Improvements are only made when there is an attempt to make them. And if that means grunting and screaming to do one more push-up, one more burpee or one more squat, then so be it.
Exercise does not have to feel good while you are doing it. That is probably one of the biggest reasons many people avoid exercising in the first place—it is hard work, it is not easy, and it is not comfortable. But as you know, once you start and keep at it, the rewards are astounding and definitely worth all of your blood, sweat, and tears. You feel good, you look good and that is what brings you back for more.
So the next time you are exercising and it feels a bit uncomfortable or like your limbs are going to fall off, that’s a sign you are doing great. Remember…if it’s hurting, it’s working!!!