Updated: Apr 19
Throughout the years as a fitness professional, I’ve come across people who want to skip all the foundations for a workout they saw on social media or who believe a workout is a not a good workout unless DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is guaranteed in the days following. Don’t get me wrong! I love this kind of driven mindset to challenge oneself, but not at the expense safety or one's perception of their self-worth.
As personal trainers, we’re given a desired goal from our clients, and we create a program to achieve the goal. We also design the programs based current level of fitness, as well as the client’s knowledge and capabilities of the movements, the exercise. There’s no way I’m going to prescribe a workout with a burpee, let alone a jump squat, if the client can’t execute a squat with proper technique. A personal trainer doesn’t just give you the exercise, he or she TEACHES you the movement. A good fitness professional also helps you to visualize the parallel between the exercise and everyday activities.
Whether you work with a coach or research and learn the exercises on your own, you got to start at the base mountain and work your way up. You don’t build a house until the foundation sets. Additionally, if you’re recovering from an injury or feeling some non-exercise related pains, you must work around limitation or leave the ego at the door and reduce the intensity. Personal fitness coaches respond to those cues and adjust the workout of the day accordingly.
One of the adversities we face in a client session is that of competing against that annihilation mindset. Many want the “go-go-go” type of workout. That sweat ‘til you drop type of workout. Yet, some still need more time with the foundational movements. Others need to take it slow if experiencing aches and pains. Due to that mindset, it becomes a challenge to properly teach certain moves, like the hip hinge, or lead a much-needed lower impact session. As a result, the chances of injury increase. It’s like a Catch-22. We want to make sure my clients don’t get injured, in order for maintain a long-lasting relationship with them. However, we want to give them the workout they want in order to maintain a long-lasting relationship with them.
In January of 2021, I had re-injured my knee in the middle of leading one of my Tactical Fit Online classes. Honestly, it was a silly accident. I slipped on my workout plan sheet that’s on the floor in front of me. However, this wasn't an excuse to not workout. I could still train my upper body. I couldn't do a metcon but I still focused on upper body strength. I even worked on rehabbing my leg in the process. It was a reminder that a workout is still a workout. I was also reminded of an episode of the Todd Durkin IMPACT Show podcast where TD mentions that we should focus on stimulation over annihilation. And I want to remind you of that. Besides, a 15-minute workout is way better than 15 minutes on the couch.
Just because you’re not feeling the DOMS after a session, it doesn’t mean you didn’t have a great workout. The muscles will still have to repair themselves because they worked. Therefore, you’re still burning calories and getting them gains.
Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness, a muscular inflammatory response, usually occurs 24-48 hours following a workout that included a new exercise, working a muscle group in a different way or one that hasn’t been worked in a while, or that included an increased load. DOMS is also amplified when you don’t stretch following a workout.
And while we’re on the page of “good workout indicators”, the amount you sweat isn’t really a solid metric for your workout. Everybody’s bodies are different. Some may sweat more than others. Also, a lack of sweat can also be a sign of dehydration. I know some who drink more water than usual on workout days; however, your hydration is dictated by the water you consume the days prior to your workout. To remain hydrated, a general rule of thumb is to drink, on a normal day, roughly 30 ml per kg of bodyweight. So, if you’re roughly 180 lbs (82 kg), your goal would be to drink 2.5 L of water throughout the day, or 5 500 mL bottles of water. And more on hot days and workout days.
In an article written by Vince Del Monte in 2017 for Ironman Magazine, he highlights that a workout is supposed to leave you invigorated, not destroyed. That going beast mode just satisfies the ego. I’m guilty of that, I’ll admit it.
When we’re training, we should be pushing to muscle fatigue, tip toeing the line to muscle failure. And at that point, we should be able to maintain proper form and technique. The moment form is gone, the risks of injury just multiply. When leaving the gym, there should be a couple of more reps in you. You got to train smart, otherwise, you’ll end paying for it in the long run with different joint and muscular problems. With my clients, I’ll challenge them to push a bit for that extra rep, but if I notice any compromised posture or technique, I immediately stop the set or decrease the load.
I believe we need to redefine the context of the famous phrase “No Pain, No Gain.” Instead of physical pain, let’s associate it with our mindset: "No Pain of Discipline, No Gain."
Unless you’re a professional body builder or an actor preparing for a superhero role, workout for the enjoyment of working out and for longevity. It’s kind of hard to maintain a healthy habit if you keep on dreading it. I know you’re not looking forward to destroying your body. I know you’re looking forward to seeing what your body and mind can actually achieve. If you destroy your body in your workout, I mean seriously injure it, then you’re definitely out of commission for a while, missing out on a bunch of other workouts that could’ve been.
Society has groomed us, especially through social media, to seek that quick fix, to dream of those six-pack abs. We see those fitness influencers doing some insane exercises, that functionally don’t make sense, sometimes. We associate their appearance to those exercises they’re demonstrating. Therefore, we try those exercises and injure ourselves. Or worse, we emotionally put ourselves down because we can’t do what they can. In my opinion, those crazy moves you see are a demonstration of what they can do as a result of a smart training program.
In the words of Jeremy Scott, “People want microwave results in a crockpot world.”
Remember that creating a masterpiece requires patience. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy your workout.
Monte, V. D. (2017, September 8). Retrieved from IronMan Magazine: https://www.ironmanmagazine.com/stimulate-vs-annihilate/
Ryan, M. (2019, June 17). Retrieved from PopSugar: https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Does-Muscle-Soreness-Mean-Growth-46090998