It’s natural to avoid stuff you hate or that you’re not good at. That doesn’t mean it’s smart.
In fact, this inclination to enjoy yourself at the gym could be butchering your fitness results.
I recently chatted with trainer Belinda Benn for our latest U.S. News article, 4 Things Women Should be Doing in Their Training—But Aren’t.
Belinda happens to be an expert on doing stuff you don’t enjoy. Her program, Breakthrough Physique, is all about pushing through discomfort and other barriers that keep you stuck in ho-hum workout routines with ho-hum results.
Specifically, Belinda and I talked about the physical bothers that people tend to avoid: Muscle soreness. Exhaustion. Copious sweating. The lactic acid “burn.”
So why do we rip off our sneakers and head for the exit every time our muscles tingle, quiver or get a little dewy?
It could be a natural survival instinct—we’re sensitive to our bodies and automatically react to situations that we interpret as potentially painful.
Then again, we could just be major wusses.
Whatever it is, Belinda has some advice: GET OVER IT.
You need to learn how to push through activities you don’t enjoy, she says. Why? Because those irritations above are all signs that you’re training with sufficient intensity. Feeling the burn and sweating puddles are usually your first clues that you’re making huge strides toward muscle gain and fat loss… clearly not the right time to pull back.
[If you’re not reaching your fitness goals because you’re just plain lazy, go here]
It’s also important to train your underdeveloped muscles rather than just favoring the stronger ones. You—just doing lower-body exercises because you have puny arms—she’s talking to you. Or, nope, she’s talking to me.
Anyway, we’ll never get stronger in those wimpy areas if we don’t start training them.
Don’t worry, there’s good news…
If you loath wood chops, heavy weights or metabolic circuits, you probably won’t for long. Belinda says people’s physical threshold tends to be higher than they think. That means you can get used to herculean workouts pretty quickly, especially if you’re restarting an old regimen.
[If you’re avoiding a certain exercise because you don’t know how to do it, step into our exercise lair]
So every time your legs burn, you want to crank your run down to a stroll? Why don’t you just buck up and keep going? According to Belinda, you can improve your lactic acid threshold just by pushing through it. Run until you hit a pace where you feel the burn kick in, then keep going. Yes: run another 30-60 seconds at your highest intensity. Recover for a few minutes and go again. A few weeks of this and she promises you’ll be saying, “what burn?”
Nothin’ to hate about that.
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