The phrase “no pain, no gain” is often thrown around in the fitness realm, implying that the best results come to those who push through the most discomfort in their workouts. While there are going to be times when working out is hard, you should also be listening to your body. Abiding by the phrase that promotes pushing through the pain can be very dangerous.
Whether you are newer to the gym or have been working out your entire life, it is always important to know your body and its limits. This can give you a good idea of what exercises have worked well for you and which may not work so well for a number of different reasons. Figuring out a baseline and becoming knowledgeable of how your body normally feels before, during, and after working out is essential in knowing when something is not right.
There is a difference between working through some sore muscles and trying to work through pain. There will be days when you are still sore from your last workout, and that is okay and normal. However, if you experience sharp, acute pain during an exercise, this is a major red flag. This could be an existing injury, and you could be making it worse by pushing through it. Or you may cause an injury unintentionally because you want to push through the pain. If you do experience this sudden pain while working out, stop doing immediately and focus on other exercises that are not so bothersome. If this pain persists for days, then it would be advised to get it checked out, so you do not worsen the injury with more exercise.
A good tip is to measure your workouts on how you improve from the last one. This can be done through keeping a training journal (https://www.riversidecorporatewellness.com/single-post/keeping-a-training-log) to see if you can improve the amount of weight lifted, repetitions performed, or sets completed.
Aim to top those numbers the next time you do those exercises instead of being motivated only by how sore you are after working out.
Knowing your limit is something that takes time and practice. You may not reach it often so it can be hard to picture. If your technique and form decline severely because of fatigue, this would be a good time to switch to a different exercise, so you do not risk injury. Some signs to look for that can indicate you have reached your limit would be muscle shaking, nausea, or becoming light headed during your workout.
Most importantly, know your body and know when it has reached its limit for the day. Causing an injury because you do not listen to your body is something that nobody wants and can delay quality training. If you are going to take the time to exercise and improve, you might as well do it right.