Why Good Workouts Are Better Than Great Workouts

All Gain Principle #3: Manage Intensity to Manage Stress

Dean is a lot like most of us.

Work and other obligations distracted him from taking better care of himself. Aches and pains accumulated. He felt more limited physically. He felt “old.”

He recognized that he was on a path that would only get worse if he didn’t do something about. So he did what most of us would do. He started to educate himself and created a plan to get himself back on track to getting in shape.

He saw the amazing things that other people were doing with their workouts. Jumps, swings, sprints, heavy weights, Olympic weightlifting, and high-intensity interval training. He read that to strip off the fat he needed to perform higher intensity workouts. That was the key. So that’s what he did.

He started with great enthusiasm and motivation, but that soon dwindled when the aches and pains didn’t go away. In fact, he began to notice that they started to get worse.

Each morning he felt stiffer than the day before. His intermittent knee pain was now an every day occurrence. He was tired all the time but couldn’t put together a good night of sleep.

It turns out that he was misguided, but it wasn’t his fault.

His sources and resources limited his perspective that all he needed to do was work harder. He watched videos of amazing feats of fitness. Borderline heroic physical efforts that left “fitness” enthusiasts exhausted and broken but looking great. Intensity was the key. Push yourself. Have great workouts every time you hit the gym, and you’ll be successful.

This just isn’t true.

Our exposures to social media can be particularly misleading. We only see the extremes. It makes us feel that everyone is happier and more successful that we are. Emotions are always high. Rest and recovery are rarely emphasized.

Making progress is not about having great workouts, setting personal records, or feeling wrecked and exhausted.

The goal is not to achieve great workouts.

The goal is to look better and feel better. This means moving well without pain. Achieving a physical appearance that we appreciate.

This requires good workouts… no great ones.

Recall from Chapter 17 in ALL GAIN, NO PAIN, the All Gain Principle #3:  Manage Intensity to Manage Stress.

We all have a limit to the resources that we can draw on each day. Our stress bucket is only so big. We have behaviors that drain our bucket, and we have behaviors that refill it.

Making great workouts the goal and letting intensity run rampant can accelerate the draining of resources from your stress bucket. Even if you have your No Pain Principles in place, too much intensity, too soon can result in a return of aches and pains that may limit comfortable movement or set you up for an injury.

This is not an excuse for a lack of effort in regard to your workouts. You should feel challenged. You’ll most likely sweat if you’re doing it right, but you shouldn’t have to feel exhausted to make progress.

You’re hear mantras like “slow and steady wins the race.”

This is our goal. Consistent and steady progress.

It’s never about workouts that leave you so drained of resources that your next workout suffers or results in those familiar, undesirable aches and pains.

Here’s a simple rule.

When you’re measuring progress with your workouts, shoot for no more than a 10% improvement. Lift 10% more weight. Good enough for today. Do 10% more total repetitions of an exercise. Good enough for today.

Each time you expose yourself to a new level of effort or intensity, it’s a new experience for you body. It must adapt. Too much, too soon, and you may lack the necessary resources resulting in a set-back from your intended goals (remember what the goals really are).

My favorite mantra in regard to respecting the process of good workouts vs. great workouts comes from NFL strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris who said in regard to training his athletes, “Slow cook ‘em.”

Have a Good workout today.

Get started on your pain-free comeback to the gym today

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