How to tell if you’ve had a good workout

What's a good workout

The signs of a good workout are not at all as obvious as sweat and soreness. In fact, those could be signs of a bad workout. A good workout speaks in a whole other language, and thankfully David Fabricius who is a registered biokineticist, knows this language quite well. He has given us a few heads up so that we can optimise our body function and form. Are you ready?

You had a good workout if…

You can do the heart rate math

There are various algorithms available to measure your heart rate and check if you are training right. Generally, your max heart rate is considered 220 minus your age, but this is slightly outdated. So, to have a positive physiological effect on your body you would need to work with this formula: maximum heart rate = 208 – (0.7 x age in years), and then calculate three-quarters of that to find your target.

Obviously, the more unfit you are the quicker your heart rate will get to a level of intensity. Your heart is a muscle, so the stronger it gets, the less it beats and the harder it is to raise your heart rate. A good way to tell if you are doing the best you can is to check your resting heart rate in the morning just as you wake up. Your resting heart rate is one of the indices to gauge fitness; the lower the heart rate, the more efficient the pump (your heart), and the fitter you are.

Another indication of a good workout is how long it takes for your heart rate to recover. If you are sitting around for longer than 3 minutes, and your heart rate hasn’t calmed down, then you are either doing something wrong, or you are not at the level of fit you should be at. “Of course, it does vary according to what you did, but an indication of fitness is being able to repeat what you did in a shorter break time,” says David.

You reached a new goal

To know when you’ve had a good workout you need to feel like you’ve pushed yourself. Biokineticists believe in the acronym SAID – Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand. SAID implies that the whole point of training should be to do that little bit more each time; to stretch your body, to recover, or to become more resilient. You should be improving in your training, whether it’s your time, your agility, your strength, or your endurance. It’s a systematic process; you should notice that you could do more, over less time.

You will sleep like a log

Your sleeping quality is a good way to show the worth of your workout. “Sleep and quality of sleep, not just the amount, is proving to be the most powerful performance-enhancing drug. If you’ve just started exercising, trust me you are going to sleep well,” says David. Not only does exercise help you sleep well, but sleep helps you exercise better too. This is because results don’t happen as much when you train, they happen when you rest. Obviously, if you start running 5km when you usually do 1km, your body is going to be fatigued. “That’s the beautiful paradox of exercise,” says David, in the short term it will make you tired, but in the long term you can go further and feel more energised. Your body will eventually take on that exertion, it will adapt (SAID) and with optimal sleep and nutrition, your body will recover, knocking up its capacity that much more.

Your mood will rocket

A good workout is a natural mood enhancer. It releases the happy hormones and over time, those natural neuro-hormones that work to decrease stress. David says that exercise is an outlet, explaining that your central nervous system has an upper and a downer system that needs to be balanced by doing exercise that stimulates both parts.

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