How do you know if you’ve had a good workout?

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How do you know if you have had a good workout?

You may believe, as I used to, that the only way you could possibly have completed a good workout is to finish in a sweaty heap on the floor.

If you could walk out of the gym without your legs cramping and your bodyweight reduced by at least two kilos through pure sweat, then you hadn’t left everything in the gym!

With experience however, you learn that there are other signs that you have had a good workout and you don’t need to have driven yourself to exhaustion in the process.

Feel energised

Rather than feeling totally exhausted, a good workout will leave you feeling energised. If you are not buzzing after an exercise session, it might mean you are pushing yourself too hard. There is a complex balance to be found between hitting the right level and toppling over the edge. If you finish sweaty but able to take on the world, that is a good workout. There is no magical formula, just listen to your body.

Watch your heart rate

Tracking your heart rate is simple these days as there are so many devices on the market. And a heart rate reading can tell a lot about how exercise is affecting us. Find your estimated maximum heart rate (subtract your age from 220) and your resting heart rate. After exercise, your heart rate should return to normal (resting heart rate) quite quickly, within 5-20 minutes. If it stays in the high zone, near your maximum heart rate, for a prolonged period then you may be overtraining. Make sure you cool down, rehydrate and give yourself plenty of recovery time.

How’s your mood?

Physical activity, of any intensity, is linked to feelings of well-being. Exercise causes negative moods to decrease and positive moods to increase. Scientists repeatedly link this phenomena to endorphins, which are the hormones released during exercise. So, if after exercise, you feel a mood shift towards a positive feeling, then you can say you have had a good workout.

How switched on were you?

Some people use exercise to mull over the day or to catch up on the latest tv shows while working out. But sometimes it is good practice to focus on the exercise you are doing. How often do you step off the static bike after you have caught up on the latest episode of your favourite show, and feel like you have had a ‘so, so’ workout? If you focus on the workout itself you may well feel a greater sense of accomplishment. Connecting to your workout mentally will help you push yourself harder and reinforce your commitment to working out.

Don’t always work to the max

A good workout doesn’t always need to be intense. Sometimes it can just be fun. It depends what you need on that particular day, whether that’s stress relief or the proud feeling of lifting more than you did last week.

But if you constantly feel “blah” about your workout routine, then it might be time to change things up. Have a chat with one of the personal trainers in the Outlooks Gym to see how you can get the most from each workout.