Is the idea that lack of soreness means lack of improvements in the gym really a sound philosophy? In short the answer is no. This mantra of no pain no gain came out of the body building era when those fitness enthusiast were so focused on hypertrophy (muscles getting bigger) and taking performance enhancing drugs. The theory behind the mantra is that if you work harder or in excess when you are in the gym, then you will see the resulting effects in greater measure. One thing that I’ve learned over the years in the Fitness industry, is that there are very few absolutes when it comes to the health and fitness of people who are working out. I have had clients who have come in to work with us who have put many hours in at the gym and didn’t see the results that they wanted to see. These individuals would probably reject the notion that more time in the gym = more results. You may be wondering then, how can I measure my effectiveness in the gym if more time doesn’t = more results?
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
The key lies in “what” not in the “how”. Meaning the key to your success in the gym lies in the “what you do for exercises in the gym”, and not “how much time you are there”. Research has shown that the best way to burn fat and keep it off is to increase lean body mass, the number one way to do this is to engage in strength training. Why in the world if the best way to burn fat off is to do strength training do we still constantly see hoards of people running on the treadmill instead of moving weight around the gym. You may be saying well it seems like Micah you are rejecting the idea of doing cardio for burning fat, no, i’m not saying that, however, the most efficient way to burn fat is to engage in strength training that elevates your heart rate and makes multiple muscle groups work and body systems. Soreness when you workout is a direct effect of lactic acid build up in your body, however over a period of time your lactic acid threshold gets pushed back as your body adapts to the workout you are doing. The result of this is a corresponding lack of soreness. However just because your body isn’t as sore as it used to be, doesn’t meant that you didn’t actually get a good workout. Your muscles still have to contract and flex to produce movement, you still have to engage your musculoskeletal system in order to do something like a lunge or a sled push. Your focus instead of soreness in the workout should be: “am I making every exercise count while i’m working out”? That is the biggest question we fail to answer when we workout. By doing the right exercises your body will respond regardless of if you are sore or not. Just make sure the way you eat supports your work in the gym……(but that’s a topic for another blog post)