NO GAIN WITHOUT THE PAIN
TEMPTED TO SLACK OFF AT THE BACK OF THAT GROUP CLASS? PUTTING MORE OOMPH INTO YOUR WORKOUTS CAN BRING AMAZING BENEFITS ... AS LONG AS YOU LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
How many of us go through the motions of our exercise programs — another thing to tick off in our busy lives? This can be fine if you’re not looking to improve, but if you’re wanting to best use your time to kick some fitness goals, there are many benefits to travelling just that little bit further or going that little bit harder every time you exercise.
Exercising with greater intensity can produce benefits including burning extra calories, increasing your metabolism well after you’ve finished exercising, improving your body’s oxygen use and improving health markers such as blood pressure and blood sugar. The list is long.
Making your exercise routine more of a challenge can also trigger the body into producing its own array of happy hormones. Feel-good endorphins, produced during strenuous exercise, can block our body’s pain receptors and are responsible for natural post-workout highs.
Dopamine is another chemical produced in the brain during cardio exercise particularly. It’s associated with improving mood and long-term memory and bringing on pleasurable feelings.
Here are some things to consider in taking your exercise routine up a notch (or two):
A strong will is an advantage in many areas of life. Often it distinguishes a true champion from the merely talented. Direct your focus to your exercise and try to bring a bit of your “game day” mentality to every session. Consciously push yourself harder, hard enough where you can increase your body heat and sustain the effort that requires. As I often say to my clients: “bring the heat”.
USE YOUR DATA
Use a GPS app on your smart device or a customised monitor. You can see the distance you travel, count your steps, time the workout you’re doing or monitor your heartrate. Start paying attention to the data generated and make a conscious effort to better your performance every time. For example, if you ride a bike to work and travel the same path each day, time yourself and try to ride 10, 20, 30 seconds faster each way.
There’s a saying: “suffer a little to gain a lot”. Get yourself acquainted with suffering the discomfort that physical exercise can produce. Some are better at accommodating it than others but it can be a learned skill. There are a couple of types of pain when it comes to intense physical effort — burning muscles and general fatigue are examples. Once you’re at the threshold, steel yourself mentally to stay in that uncomfortable zone for a little longer each time. Treat it as a personal challenge. Consistency is the key to success here.
SET THE FOUNDATIONS
Ensure quality movement patterns or good body mechanics before you get into the zone. Don’t push when the foundation isn’t there. As always, warm up well. Ensure you have no limitations that would risk injury. For example, if you’ve pulled your calf muscle you wouldn’t undertake a marathon so be smart about your training. Do it under expert guidance if you can and, if in doubt, always consult a health professional.
KNOW WHEN TO PULL BACK
But, I hear you ask, how do I know when it’s not “good” pain? It’s true your brain is likely to tell you to stop because it equates pain with injury but that’s not always the case. The secret is in getting to know your own body and understanding its cues. This takes time so take it slow and steady.
Gym owner Drew Griffith holds a Cert III and IV in Fitness and is a CrossFit Level 1 Coach. The strength and conditioning trainer has been helping people achieve their health, weight, sport and fitness goals for the past 30 years.