Pace yourself and enjoy working out!
I’m sure you’ve all seen (and heard) those people at the gym, or in your exercise class, or in an online community, who chant the moto “no pain, no gain” or shout at those going that bit slower “pacing yourself is for wimps”. They actually look at us as though we should be worshipping them for having the leanest fittest body in the place.
But should we? I mean, really?
Okay, so perhaps they do look to be in fine physical shape. But at what price to themselves mentally and / or physically?
For professional athletes they should of course give 110% each and every time if they want to stay top of their field. But for us mere mortals who simply want to look and feel good, giving 110% or even 80%-100% could come with some consequences. And result in injury preventing us from training for days, weeks, months or possibly years.
So what’s the key?
Pacing doesn’t mean slacking on your workouts. It means knowing your limits and ensuring you complete the workout you’ve set. Then steadily and within your own parameters you can start to increase the weight / time / reps to improve your fitness levels. But only when you’re ready. Not when someone else says you are (unless of course you never increase your efforts and then it’s wise to listen to the instructor to push yourself that little bit more over time).
Listen to your body. If it’s crying out for oxygen after 10 seconds, then perhaps the level you’ve set yourself is too high.
So how do you figure out your optimum performance for your current fitness level?
With Tabata or any high intensity interval training session take the 20 seconds, or equivalent for your session, and go all out.
This kind of level you know you’re unlikely to sustain for the remaining 8 reps. So take 20% off that figure. For example if you managed 15 full push ups in 20 seconds, knock 20% off it so you reduce the number down to 12 to pace yourself. The new ‘pace’ number is more likely to be achieved over the entire 4 minute session.
The idea behind any workout session is to complete it, feel good as a result, and look forward to your next session. So treat each session as a marathon, not a sprint. Of course push yourself as your muscles should feel worked out at the end, but listen to your body and stay within your own fitness level.
Don’t worry about what the guy next to you is doing, or what you read in forums – focus on you and your goals. If you push yourself too hard at the outset you may not be able to be in it for the long haul.