You’re pushing through the final moments of your set, muscles shaking out every last bit of juice to push up that last rep or finish those last few seconds. It feels great to push yourself to new limits, but how far is too far?
When to Push and When to Ease Off
There are certain times when you should be pushing past old limits, but sometimes you really need to back off a little bit. Being smart and paying attention to how your muscles feel is important in making these decisions.
You should keep pushing when your muscles have a good pump and not any kind of strained feeling. If the muscle feels like it is straining to get out those few reps, and form is starting to become questionable, you should really stop what you’re doing instead of letting your ego tell you to push through the pain. You won’t care about your ego if you push yourself into an injury that takes you out of the gym for weeks or months.
If you have a stubborn muscle that always feels strained during certain exercises, there are some things you can do to relieve the pain. One way is to stretch and warm up thoroughly before you start your workout. Loosening up the muscle goes a long way to prevent strains and relieve nagging pains since tight muscles are a cause of a lot of annoying pains and strains. Another way is to apply kinesiology tape to the muscle that gives your problems. KT Tape has become very popular among college and pro athletes in recent years for its effectiveness in helping to heal injuries. This special tape goes right on the muscle and provides extra support, like extra tendons on the outside of your skin, while also allowing for a full range of motion to perform any exercise.
More Is Not Always Better
When it comes to working out, people seem to think that more is always better; this is simply not the case. Your muscles and central nervous system (CNS) can only handle so much work before they start to get worn down. There’s a certain point of muscle breakdown that is optimal for protein synthesis and pushing past that point with too many reps and sets will only detract from your progress.
How to Tell When Your Workouts Are Too Long or Too Intense
Achieving the maximum benefits from your workouts is a fine balancing act. You want to train long enough and intensely enough to progress, but not so much that it causes you to plateau and spin your wheels. Let’s look at some ways to tell if you are pushing too far past your limit in your workouts.
One way to tell if your workout is too long is how you feel afterward. You should feel energized and perked up, not like you want to go home and sleep all day. You should also feel engaged mentally throughout the entire workout, instead of dragging through it, hating that you have to be there. This over-training is going to cause to dread going to the gym if you don’t shorten it up.
Intensity is something you will need to keep a close eye on in the gym. The harder you work, the more rest you will need and the shorter your workouts should be. Working out at too high of an intensity for an extended period of time will start to hit you with symptoms of an over-trained central nervous system. Symptoms of over-training your CNS include: excessive fatigue, anxiety, depression, and decreased motivation. Over-training your CNS is the single worst thing you can do to yourself when trying to reach your fitness goals.
Be smart about how hard you push during a workout by paying attention to both the physical and mental signs that indicate when you’re pushing too hard in the gym. Remember that a proper workout regimen is made by striking a good balance between exercise and recovery.