What Defines a Productive Workout?

How do you determine if you’ve had a good workout or not?

Is it something objective such as lifting a certain amount of weight, covering a distance in a certain amount of time or something else?

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. It might be that some people simply see getting exercise or doing a workout as something to cross off a list.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Unless you have specific goals and want to have the best health possible.

Then it’s important to be tracking your workouts. And making both subjective and objective notations in your journal.

And this is as well as how you feel the days after your workout should determine whether or not you had an effective workout.

Because I’m seeing something developing that is a little bit discouraging. And it involves people getting excited about painful, overly intense workouts.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for intense training. Athletes will bond when they go through a tough physical challenge together. I want everyone I work with to lift as intensely as is possible for them. And I want them to feel like they could repeat the same workout the next day.

But that’s not what seems to be happening in fitness circles these days.

People are posting on their fb walls about how ‘yesterday’s workout killed them!’ and ‘how they are still sore from the last workout!’.

There is even a ‘fitness’ style that gives you a t-shirt with their clown caricature on it for throwing up during a workout. Some of you may know which style this is.

Anybody else see anything wrong with this picture?

This is not the goal. This is not what you should be shooting for. The goal should be to stimulate and not annihilate the neuromuscular system.

On occasion it does happen that you will have some lingering muscle soreness. This is aka doms for delayed onset muscle soreness.

And as a younger guy working out I craved doms. I figured that unless I had trouble walking down stairs after a squat workout I hadn’t trained hard enough. Or unless it hurt to be poked in the chest after a bench workout I had wasted my time.

Boy was I wrong!

A friend and colleague, Mike Boyle, has a great saying for training this way. (another friend reminded me of this quote) Mike said ‘I could beat you with a baseball bat and make you good and sore and not much else’.

Soreness is not the end goal.

Results are.

More is not always better.

More efficiency is better.

Over the past few months I have been experiementing with a new training style to reduce doms and increase results.

And the results are amazing.

So I’ve slowly been introducing this new approach to the people I’ve been working with for a while.

And guess what?

They are all setting new personal bests on all of their lifts.

With less work.

And no pain, discomfort or restriction the days after.

For mylself here’s what I’ve accomplished since the new year. All increases are based on a mathematical model. True values will be established by March 1 when I test all my lifts again.

Bench +30 lbs

Squat +40 lbs

Deadlift +45 lbs

So I’m curious to know?

How do you measure a successful workout?

Leave your comments in the space below and I promise to reply to each one.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                       okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’ 

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4 Responses to What Defines a Productive Workout?

  1. George says:

    I measure a successful workout by efficiency, but more importantly, effectiveness. The trouble is knowing what is always effective, which is why I follow your blog. One example that I believe to be ineffective, for example, is resting too long in between sets. I try to follow a system as much as possible in regards to what movements I’m doing, # of sets and reps, etc. I guess I measure a successful workout by implementing a short-term workout plan for that day that contributes to my overall long-term objectives. If I have taken chance out of it as much as possible then I have had a successful workout. By constantly being in touch with the long term vision and then working my way backwards from that time I attach meaning to each month, week and most importantly, each daily workout. A great reference for what I am writing about is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding-Chapter 7-‘Training the Mind.’ It is a foundation for how I approach a new workout program and again, how I attach meaning to each workout and meal.

    • Chris says:

      George: You are right about staying on top of your rest breaks. This is where most people falter.

      All the best,

      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

  2. Anny says:

    Chris, interesting approach and as one of your regulars, I really like the challenges you have set for us. Keeps in interesting in addition to great results. Amazing how many people still “brag” about spending an hour or two on a treadmill. Who has that kind of time anymore?

    • Chris says:

      Anny: I totally agree with you. I want to get the best results in the quickest time with the least amount of effort.

      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

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