How Hard Should You Train?

We have all heard it: This was a great workout, I threw up.” Is that really necessary?
Absolutely not.

This just means that  you either were not ready to handle the workout or your mistimed your food intake.
Personally I think training should be seen as building a business or a house. You do something every day and in the end.. voila the finished product.
It will not get done in one heroic effort one day, just like a great body is not build by one monster workout on Saturday morning.
So what makes a good workout?

Let’s go through some indicators that people view as yard sticks for an effective workout.

1. When a muscle burns:

The burning sensation in the muscle during a tough workout 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 in ammation) 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 e ective workout. However, it becomes less and less as you train for a longer period of time.

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 e ective workout. And don’t get me started on hot yoga….

4. How far should you push yourself during the workout?

Let me start out by saying what is too far – vomiting, passing out, hyperventilating and tearing ligaments. 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, check out your workout sheet and make sure you hit your numbers. Everything else will take care of itself!

Why do we train muscles more than once a week? Simple. Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) drops back to baseline levels after 36 hours. This means if you train a muscle once a week only, you are leaving a lot of time unused.