Crossfit Series: How do you know how hard to push yourself when working out?

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by Drew Giardina, PT

The easiest way to identify if you are pushing too far is to isolate where you are experiencing pain.  If you are having pain that you would classify as “burning” in the muscle belly, then you should be fine.  This type of pain should subside within 30 seconds to a minute of stopping the exercise.  If it feels like a muscle that has a cramp that you can’t seem to stretch out, or you experience the same muscle pain within the first couple of reps, then you want to stop the exercise as you might have strained the tissue and working it more will only injure the muscle further.

Whenever you are having pain in a joint, especially when it is “sharp”, then you need to stop immediately.  This type of pain is most likely in the cartilage or tendinous part of a muscle and can lead to an injury more easily and take longer to heal than an injury within the belly of a muscle.  Talk with you coach about the pain and adjusting the weight or form of the exercise might be enough to avoid the pain and resume your workout.

Experiencing pain does not always mean that you have to completely stop your workout.  Some discomfort is acceptable and expected with certain exercise, especially those exercises that are new.  Talk with your coach and they can help you with what to expect when doing new exercises or higher volumes of an exercise you have already done before.

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