But I want to talk to some of you who tend to push too hard. There are several ways to do this.
The first is to work a joint beyond what it is capable of on a given day. So if the knees are hurting, you have to modify. If the hip is bothering you, you have to modify. If the back is cranky that day, modify. And it varies from day to day, so you have to be very aware of your body.
You will get lots of levels and choices at Clear Rock, including level one versions of your exercises. You are not being a wuss if you choose level one, you are being wise. It is your responsibility to know what is appropriate for you that day.
I have heard many of you say, "But I don't want to be a wuss." I get that, I really do. But I also know that an injury can take you out for quite awhile. Stay safe, protect your joints! We can work around anything.
The second way of working too hard is to let your heart rate get too high. The best way to keep an eye on this is with a heart rate monitor, but it can also be done with what's called perceived exertion. If on a scale of one to ten, you start feeling like you are hanging out at seven or eight, it might be time for a break.
You might feel like you are huffing and puffing, struggling to catch your breath, and your mind is usually flashing a warning light saying Slow Down.
The way to take a break is to stop lifting weights and to get on a cardio machine at a nice, easy pace until your heart rate comes down to your zone one, or your rating of perceived exertion comes down to three or four. You should be able to breathe easy. All warning lights should stop flashing. You should feel ready to go again.
When I say during a workout, "If you need a cardio break, take it"...I mean it. Again, you are not being a wuss by doing three minutes of cardio, you are working out wisely. I've talked about this in detail, but working out at too high a heart rate is counter-productive to most of our goals. Stay in your zone. This is your responsibility. If you need help with heart rate monitoring, let me know. The monitor I recommend is the Polar FT4.
The third way of working out too hard is overheating. This is not hard to do when the humidity is high, which it certainly has been lately. There are several strategies used to prevent this, such as staying hydrated before your workout and dressing appropriately for the heat. A good sweat is one thing, heat exhaustion is another. The signs to watch for are: lightheadedness, nausea, tunnel vision, cold sweat. These are not symptoms to work through. If you feel any of these, stop what you are doing and let your trainer know. Walk or sit, but do not lie down. It should pass as your body temperature cools, but it can often leave you with quite the headache.
Once again, there is nothing wussy about stopping before you get to that point. Dizziness and nausea are not normal parts of working out. They are warning signs that something is off. It might be you didn't sleep well the night before, or are dehydrated. It might be that you don't exercise consistently between training sessions and therefore aren't acclimated to the weather. Whatever the reason, stop before you get to that point.
It is a challenge for all of us to work out with others without feeling judged. When I went to Body Pump class yesterday, I used such light weights for class but I just knew that's what I needed that day. I am over worrying if people think that the trainer has enough weight on her bar. No one thinks that way! No one cares!
I believe all this is extremely important, not only because it keep the Westerville paramedics from visiting the studio too often. I believe it is extremely important because the key to fitness is consistency. And the risk with overworking is it often leads to quitting.
The beauty of fitness is that your highest level of intensity is never required to see results. There is a zone, whether you are doing cardio or lifting, that is appropriate to work within. It takes practice to find, but you will know it by this: you will leave your workout feeling better than when you started. And you will not dread the next workout. If you have a sense of dread, you are working at too high an intensity. Back it off. Get over the fear of being a wuss. There is no such thing! Find that level that works for you and stick with it. That is how to honor the dedication to hard work that is already within you.