“Bro! I got such a good workout yesterday! I filled up a gallon bucket with my own vomit!”
“Totes! I did kettlebell swings with shit form for an hour and filled TWO buckets with puke!”
“Aww man, I really want to lose that weight maybe I should workout as hard as you!”
This is an exaggeration of a mentality I see a lot in the fitness community thanks in part to the rising popularity of certain fitness ideologies *cough cough* CrossFit *cough cough*. Many seem to think the quickest route to progress is to make sure your workout makes you feel like you were run over by a stampede of rabid zombie chupacabras with SARS. More exertion equals more calories burned and more muscle gain, right?
This thinking is problematic for a few reasons.
No Nausea Necessary
The first problem that pops into my brain-piece is the high risk of overtraining.
Exercise damages tissue, which your body repairs resulting in*drum roll please* physical adaptation. In other words, your body adapts to the hardship of exercises by building more muscle or making the existing muscle stronger, depending on the workout.
When you workout too intensely, too often, you don’t allow your body the time it needs to repair itself. This will quickly result in the symptoms of overtraining, which not only effs with your hormones, but is a really good way to get injured.
Would you drive your car on the autobahn before the mechanics were done fixing it? Didn’t think so. If you answered yes, you deserve everything that happens to you. Darwin is smirking in his naturally selected grave.
I have already written before about the importance of technique here– https://jmortontraining.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/stop-the-slop-how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-workouts/ When working yourself to the point of absolute exhaustion, your technique is going to falter. Hell, maybe if you try hard enough you’ll end up looking as cool as this dude:
There is another really horrible side effect of this mentality.
When “feeling” like you worked out becomes more important than actually making progress, many important exercises are programmed incorrectly or omitted altogether. Turkish getups for reps? Da fuq?
Getups are an amazing exercise for total body strength and stability. You’d be hard pressed to find an exercise that bulletproofs the shoulder more than the TGU. However, it is slow and methodical. Many become frustrated by the TGU because they can’t feel it and because you can’t do it to failure. You can, but you can kiss your rotator cuff goodbye.
This is just one example of an important exercise neglected because it’s not a burpee or kipping pullup. There are many more unfortunately.
Lastly, it’s simply unnecessary to drive yourself into the ground every workout. You can achieve speedy results through a far less intense regimen. Plus, you’ll be able to carry your groceries up the stairs at the end of the day.
Sure, it’s good to really give it all you’ve got sometimes. Sometimes. I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself, just to know when to push yourself to the brink of complete and utter destruction.
The goal shouldn’t be exhaustion, but progress. I am very happy that more people are motivated to train hard, but you must train smart. For the best results, you should train as hard as you ought to and no harder.