Is Your Workout Helping or Hurting You?

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Between the number of gyms and studios and the number of free online workouts out there, there’s no shortage of places to obtain a workout or full exercise program.  People choose what type of workouts they do based on many factors: from what they think sounds fun, to what they’ve heard “really works.” Everybody is different in what works for them, what they like to do, and what their goals are. I won’t give you one type of workout that will be great for you, but what I will do is help you figure out if what you’re currently doing is helping you, hurting you, or just plain wasting your time…

< < <     3 Areas To Assess     > > >

1. PERFORMANCE – Are you actually improving?

Try to avoid assessing your progress by looking in the mirror or at a scale for this one… Think about how you’re moving. It doesn’t have to be loads of improvement – we progress incrementally – but you should be able to tell a difference in your performance within a couple months after you’ve started a workout program or new routine, if you’re being consistent. Whether it’s being stronger, racing faster, or having the capacity to just do more, are you actually any better now than when you started?

  • If the answer is yes, great! Keep going! (Even if you’re improving slowly, that’s still improvement and very good)
  • If the answer is no and you’ve just started… keep going. If you’ve been going for a while and the answer is still no, either ask a professional for some help or find something new to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean change what you’re doing completely – you may have just plateaued – but you will need to change something in order to see those gainz. ; )
  • Also take into account where your workout came from: Does the person that wrote that Pinterest meme workout actually have education to back up their programming or are they just somebody that looks good in their activewear?

Terms to look up: The Principle of Overload & The Principle of Diminishing Returns

2. INJURY FREE – Are you feeling more durable?

Again, you should be feeling better, not worse. First, note the difference between soreness and injury: Soreness goes away after a couple days, injuries hang around for a while and need to be addressed immediately. Whatever you’re doing should make you more durable not less. Assess how you felt when you started and compare that to how you feel now. Are you feeling better or do you have aches and pains all the time now?

  • If you’re feeling better, great! Keep going!
  • If you’re having aches and pains all the time, ask a professional for help with your movement skill and technique. You maybe be doing the slightest thing incorrectly, but doing it over and over again will set you up for bad movement patterns as you gain strength – which means more severe injuries in the future. Fixing it now (even if you have to back off your intensity) is better.
  • If you’re already working with a fitness professional, maybe try getting an opinion from another professional or a corrective exercise specialist. You’re either doing movements incorrectly (not your fault if you’re not being corrected), being trained incorrectly (also not your fault if the pro you’re working with doesn’t have enough education), or you could be over-doing it (that one could be your fault… depends).

Term to look up: Overtraining

3. ENERGY – Do you feel energized?

Exercise boosts energy by increasing your blood flow and metabolism over time. If you’re doing the right amount for your ability level, you should feel more energized as you go on. I’ll never forget one of my corporate class participants coming in (after her work started offering 30 minute fitness classes at lunch time 3 days per week – which I was teaching) after our first 6 weeks together. She burst through the doors one afternoon and said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve never slept better and my house has never been cleaner!” It made me laugh out loud. Now, I’m not saying you’re going to feel like the Energizer Bunny right off the bat, but you certainly shouldn’t feel chronically fatigued from your program. So do you feel energized?

  • If the answer is yes, great! Keep going!
  • If the answer is no, try backing off the intensity. A common mistake is for beginners to jump into a moderate intensity program instead of a low-intensity one before they have the base to be able to handle it. They end up improving a little, but could feel as if they haven’t and get discouraged and quit.
  • If you’re feeling completely shattered after each and every workout, you’re likely not getting a quality workout. High intensity intervals are great, but that shouldn’t be the ONLY thing your workout consists of. Try more strength components and maybe find a new trainer, gym, or program.
  • Again, you should feel better, not worse.

Read this short study summary: Exercise As A Cure for Fatigue & To Boost Energy Levels



There are many variables to consider when looking at your exercise regimen, and a lot of rabbit holes we could go down, but these 3 are quick ones that don’t involve complicated jargon or intense data collection. If you’re answering yes to all 3 of these questions, then great! If you’re answering no, you may need to change your approach, edit your intensity, or try something different altogether. Don’t freak out though… there are lots of options out there!

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