How Much Should My Workout Hurt?

SO much.

Haha just kidding #trainerhumour!

But seriously, I get this is a question a lot and I think it's an important one to ask for sure. In my opinion, on average 80% of people working out in a gym at a given time just aren't pushing themselves hard enough. In fact, about 50% of those people would be better off taking a nap or going for a walk to the coffee shop!

I tell my clients that at least once, ideally twice a week they should workout to really push themselves and feel a burn for the next 48 hours or so. That's the ideal but there are other types of pain for sure. Here's how I like to break it down.

Good Pain:

  • Back on the horse: You haven't worked out in awhile and you're just getting back into it. Obviously expect to be sore here … and look forward to it! It's fun, trust me!
  • Target pain: You were focusing on a certain body part and you can still feel the burn in that place the next day
  • Job well done pain: You're gassed from a great workout and have a little pain or shaking arms … totally normal and should disappear within 45 minutes

Bad Pain:

  • Old injury pain: The second you feel something resurface again it's time to take it down a notch and maybe go for more physio, chiro or a massage. Don't push an injury, that will only lead to more problems down the road.
  • Biomechanical error: You really should never feel your joints after a workout. The only place where the burn belongs is deep in your muscles. If you felt your joints definitely tell your trainer about that the next day – we want to know!
  • Acute stabbing pain: You bend one way and it sends a shooting pain down your back. Bad. Bad. Bad. See someone about that and make sure you're a-ok. If this happens you're likely slightly off with your form. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Watch wobbly knees in particular very carefully. 
  • Over-training pain: I don't even like to mention this because honestly this applies to 1% of my clients … most people never even get close to over training! But when you're finding it particularly tough to recover from a workout and you're exhausted day after day try to take your training down a notch. Six days a week is plenty! Add in some yoga, take a Pilates class, try something new!