If you’re exercising without a trainer, and you’re on your own to weed through the overwhelming information available on the internet, we’re hoping we can offer some guidance. There are warning signs to look out for that signal that something might not be entirely right. You may be not doing the right exercises or you could even be working against yourself if you’re not careful.
It’s normal to feel challenged, but if you’re feeling pain or discomfort, you might need to recalibrate.
Squats: Bad form can lead to knee or low back pain. Don’t be afraid to go parallel or further with your squats, studies show this doesn’t hurt your knees (1). The squat is a great movement that can be dissected in great detail. Until we cover the squat, you can find great examples from Olympic Weightlifters and Powerlifters. (note how the knees move forward and the hips move back. The squat isn’t a perfect up/down movement)
Bench Press: Feeling it in your shoulders? Your elbow placement is likely the culprit. Keep your elbows close to your ribcage, and at a 45 degree angle at minimum as opposed to flaring your shoulders straight out.
Push-ups: Feeling pain or soreness in your neck when doing push-ups is common with a simple solution. Be mindful of how your head is positioned. In a push-up, you should be looking at the ground.
Continue to be vigilant of where you’re “feeling” it even after your workout. Soreness in your muscles, even for 2-3 days, is normal and healthy, but if you feel pain in your joints then you might need to have your form checked.
With any exercise, such as the bench or squat, you want to master the movement without added weight before moving up. If something doesn’t feel right, then fix it before increasing the weight or intensity. Assuming the problem will go away or “fix itself” is a dangerous slope to go follow.
Once you’ve found the right exercise for you, you’ll recognize the good feeling it brings.
HOW YOU’LL FEEL GOOD
Increased energy levels
Try different workouts and see what gets you excited to get moving! The best workout is the one you look forward to doing!
Studies show an impressive correlation between regular exercise and energy level and sleep quality. You should notice an improvement to these within 2 weeks of regular exercise (2,3).
If you’re going for weight loss or other visible results, experts say it depends on each person and their exercise regimen, but results will show faster for those new to fitness, even within a few days (4). Exercise veterans will take some more time to see results, from a few weeks to a month.
DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is normal part of exercise and it can take time for your body to heal and grow. But keep in mind, this soreness shouldn’t last longer than 48 to 72 hours post-workout. If you find yourself significantly sore for more than 3 days, or if your soreness prevents you from accomplishing your daily tasks then you may need to cut back.
When to be concerned
Pain or aches more than 72 hours after workout
Sharp pains, especially in the joints
Impaired range of motion
If your exercise isn’t a challenge, you need to switch the exercise or increase the difficulty. This doesn’t mean you need to breach exhaustion every time that you workout, but you should feel tired after a workout at least a couple times a week to help increase your aerobic and strength capacities.
SIMPLE WAYS TO LEVEL UP YOUR EXERCISE
Add more weight or reps
Increase time (for cardio)
Increase speed (for sprints or power exercises)
Add resistance in other ways (ankle weights, bands, chains or vests)