This is something I hear quite often from new clients (until crippling soreness sets in on day 2), but it got me thinking that I should clarify what constitutes an effective training session.
1. When a muscle burns:
The burning sensation in the muscle during a tough workout it is not caused by lactic acid, despite what Dr. OZ says. The lactic acid actually serves as buffer, trying to keep the muscle cell from becoming too acidic. It turns acidic because you are using up a lot of ATP, which in turn, releases a proton.
So in short, if a muscle feels like it is burning, it simply means you are out of ATP and too acidic. It does NOT mean that you have trained to the point where your body will change. If I sit on a bicycle and ‘hit it’ like mad for 5 minutes, my legs will be burning. However, they will not get leaner nor bigger from said effort. Just like in business, never confuse activity with results.
2. To be sore:
Being sore does not mean that you’ve stored lactic acid, but that your muscles are experiencing micro traumas (tiny tears and some inflammation) that need to be repaired.
The repair work forces the body to make the muscle stronger, it also takes energy to do said repairs, which can be helpful when trying to lose body fat. DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is a good indicator of an effective workout.
3. Do I need to sweat?
Not really, there is no fat in sweat (otherwise we could just sit in the sauna and skip the working out part). Some people run hotter than others, this does not mean that the people who do not perspire have a less effective workout. And don’t get me started on hot yoga…..
4. How far should you push yourself during the workout?
Let me start by saying, what is too far – vomiting, passing out, hyperventilating, and tearing ligaments or tendons? In short, do not do cross fit. You should leave exhausted but happy and looking forward to the next workout.
To give you an idea, Michael Phelps missed only 2 (two!!) days between the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Had he thrown up or blacked out during all of the remaining 1460 sessions, we would have never heard of him as he would have missed the 2008 Games with a slew of injuries.
So, before going to work out, set your goal for the day (or have me set it for you) – go in, work hard and leave after 60 minutes! Anything longer is garbage time!