10 Easy Signs Your Workout Is Working
So you have a routine? That's great! Where did you get it from? The internet? A personal trainer? From some person who looked like they knew what they were doing?
So is it working?
That is the golden question, and a golden question needs a golden answer, or answers in this case.
Firstly you need to ask yourself what is 'working'. What is your fitness goal? No not the SMART fitness goal; thats a cliche used by personal trainers and fitness instructors alike to get you to commit to a routine they will give you. No not the 'to look good' or 'to get girls or guys to like me' that's subjective to such a degree that you will never achieve it.
Don't get technical with your fitness goal. The more technical you get the more difficult it will be to make a goal.
Simple categorize yourself in one of two choices:
1) Your fitness goal is conditional; i.e. you are training for a marathon, training because you are a professional sportsman or woman etc.
2) You want to be fit and live a fit lifestyle.
If you chose goal 1 then that's great, we have many articles for you like Periodisation, End Game and Cardio 101 for you to look at. The advice following will also help.
If you chose goal 2 then here is the secret to a healthy lifestyle. Make fitness a habit. Don't make it complicated and structured, make it so that you want to go to the gym every single day. If you negotiate every week which 3 or 4 days you are going to the gym you will not keep it up. Your fitness lifestyle must because just that, a lifestyle. You want to train every day like you want to brush your teeth every day, eat lunch every day, it's exactly the same. THAT is your fitness goal.
SO, you are at the gym, how do you know your workout is working? Here are the 10 signs.
1) The most obvious sign of all that most people miss; The Overload Principle. This principle simply means are you tired after your workout? Are you panting as you leave the gym? Is your heart-rate at 125 or higher as you finish your exercise? Are you sweating a lot? The Overload Principle is essentially the principle where you need to be tired after your workout in order for you to progress in fitness. If you do not feel tired after a workout you are failing the Overload Principle.
2) You are drinking a lot of water. If you are obeying the Overload Principle you must be getting thirsty. Drinking a lot of water to replace fluids in your body used in sweat, in fuel to keep you going internally shows your workout is working. I drink about 2 litres of water in a 45 minute workout. Sounds a lot but i need it because i'm working out!
3) Your routines are getting easier. This is easiest to spot if you have a gym routine which you found hard or were not able to finish because you were too tired. If after a week or two, or three or six you finally managed to finish the workout routine that means you are getting fitter and your workout is working! Simple as!
4) You are not feeling ill. This is something I touched on in the TDL Fitness Podcast episode 8. One of the best benefits of a workout that is working is you are generally healthier and so will succumb less to colds, fevers anything that is common and infectious. This is harder to spot but after a prolonged period of healthiness maybe you will spot that your workout is working for you.
5) You are dropping dress sizes not weight. Whether you like it or not most workouts will mean you acquire more muscle whether its bulk or lean muscle. Don't worry females that wont make you less feminine it simply means that you will notice that you might not drop a lot of weight because muscle weighs more than fat, but fat covers a greater area of your body. You can drop 4 dress sizes and not lose a single bit of weight because for women the fat is on your hips, for men its the tummy.
6) You enjoy finishing the workout but its not 'fun'. This is a classic sign people can miss if they are given a routine by a personal trainer that is trying to make the gym fun for you. No workout should be fun during the workout. If it's fun you aren't working out hard enough. The feeling of enjoryment should be the endorphins after, the molecules in your Dentate Gyrus (bit of your brain) making you feel bloody amazing about yourself after a workout. It's a great feeling.
7) You are done after 30-60 minutes. This ties in with sign 1; if your workout is making you tired and you are resting adequately you will probably reach the end of your energy limit within the hour. Whilst this is dependant on what you are training for (i.e. hypertrophy training will be around the 35-45 minute limit whilst stamina training would go up to an hour typically). If you are training for about an hour and a half or even 2 hours chances are you are not working hard enough or you are taking too long a break in between sets, or your intensity is not enough.
8) That last repetition is murder. This ties in with sign number one and three. If you are at the weights or in your last Aerobic interval cycle that last one should feel like hell; to the point where you feel shattered after or you don't quite make that last repetition. If you re-rack easily after that last set chances are its not the right intensity for you. This is relevant to the treadmill, cycling, kettlebells you name it.
9) You are free to switch it up. A good workout is fluid; not restricted. If you are feeling a little tense in one area of your body switch the exercise with something else but don't lose the workout as a whole. Not feeling like that set of dead lifts today? Don't forgo the whole workout because of that, just do some bent over rows instead. If you can do that you are freeing yourself up for a good workout that works for you. Restrictions create plateaus, and plateaus create frustration.
10) You stop caring about the little things in the gym. Mobile phones, if other people are looking at you, friends in the gym you could talk to. If you can go into the gym, do your thing, get out of there AND THEN use your phone, talk to friends etc then your workout is intense enough for you not to get distracted and your rest times in between sets are not accidentally lengthened because of a conversation. 'If you can hold you head when all men doubt you..' as Rudyard Kipling says; be blinkered. If you can phase out distractions you are doing it right.
And that's it. 10 signs your workout is working for you. No need for fitness tests (though that would be fun), no need for a personal trainer to tell you if it works or not, no need to look at yourself in the mirror and take selfies to see if there's a difference. The signs are there and AS LONG AS YOU DON'T HURT YOURSELF during your workout then you will be just fine, you will progress and you will make fitness a habit. No greater way of creating a habit than to know it's working for you and its benefiting you. These signs will help make fitness a pert of your life you can't do without.