Redefining "Great Workout"

“That was a great workout!” We all say it after a sweat dripping training session, but what does it really mean. How are we defining a great workout? And does a great workout always have to mean you just got your ass handed to you?

Look I too love a killer training session where I am surprised I made it through it, but I also have learned that getting my ass kicked at every workout is not always ideal for my body or goals and isn’t the definition of a great workout.

I have had great workouts that didnDSC00434_copy’t leave me sweaty or panting at all. I have had great workouts where I finally had a movement pattern click! And I have had great workouts where I was training so hard I didn’t realize I could sweat that much. The truth is a great workout can be defined in many different ways and we often limit our training success by believing the only definition is for it to be killer.

We need to train to meet our goals. And no matter what your goal may be, contrary to popular belief, killing it in the gym every training session isn’t a requirement. We need to vary our workout intensity from day to day, listen to our bodies and incorporate rest/recovery.

For me, my main training focus is strength and I consistently lift weights 3 days per week. There are days when I feel like I got my ass kicked and I’m sore as hell for a day or so, and then there are days were I just feel good post workout. I know to get results I can’t go hard all the time. I need to let my body adapt to the stress I’m putting on it. I also know neurologically I need to recover. My gains are made during my recovery time (aka time not training) not during the stress (aka time training). The varying intensity keeps me injury free and able to make progress both strength and skill wise. Sometimes my training session will involve a lot of volume and I will feel worn out, other times my training session will involve more focus on the efficiency of my movements, my form and control. They are both great workouts, despite the fact that the latter doesn’t feel as intense.

The fitness industry has perpetuated this idea that the only good workout is the one that leaves you on the floor and you that always have to be sore to prove you got a good workout. I’m here to tell you that is a lie! Don’t buy into the hype of go big or go home. Learn to listen to your body, push yourself and rest when you need it. Fitness professionals are often taught to just give clients a killer workout. And it has become a battle to see which trainer can kick people’s asses the most. Again while getting your ass kicked is fun, it’s not always productive. The goal is not just to be tired; the goal is to get better (at whatever it is you are working towards). Any trainer can make you tired, but not every trainer can make you better.

I push myself in the gym, I always strive to move better and lift more, but gone are my days of training like a professional athlete without the lifestyle and resources to support that level of training. Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I should. Instead of looking for the best way to get a killer workout, look for the best way to achieve your goals, and then sprinkle in some killer workouts to give yourself a challenge here and there. Great workouts come in all different forms and aren’t defined by sweat, heavy breathing and feeling like you got hit by a truck. Make productive workouts the staple of training routine.

I encourage you to redefine and expand what “great workout” means to you. Don’t limit yourself to thinking that a great workout is only one that leaves you exhausted. And set a goal! Be stronger, develop your boxing skills, build endurance, improve your speed or power, etc. You can get so much more out of training than exhaustion. And FYI it’s really a nice feeling to leave the gym and not feel wiped out all the time.

Jessica Storch, MA is a boxing coach, personal trainer, health coach and owner of Knockout Women's Boxing Club in Westmont, IL. Her mission is to empower women to be their best through the sport of boxing. She promotes a health focused mentality and encourages women to let go of the diet mentality. Jessica believes weight loss doesn't equal health and works with women to support them in building healthy lifestyles and happy lives.