Everyone wants to find that perfect balance of a fun but challenging workout, but sometimes we can get a little lazy or content with one type of exercise. If you find that you're no longer coming home exhausted after hitting the gym, it may be one of the many signs your workout is too easy. Any exercise will always be beneficial, but if you want to receive the many health benefits of a good workout, it may be time to push yourself harder.
"Your fitness levels will never improve if you are always working out too easy," says fitness expert Brad Davidson over email. "You won’t become more resilient in life and you are set up for greater risk of injury." There is some benefit, however, to easy exercise if you want to reduce stress. "Walking, especially outside, has been shown to dramatically reduce the stress hormones cortisol," says Davidson.
But if you want to receive the more abundant health benefits of a more intense workout, including muscle strength and lowered risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, you'll need to up the ante. Researchers have found that high-intensity interval training is more effective than continuous moderate activity when it comes to cardiovascular health, as well as respiratory and metabolic function.
If you think your workout may need a boost, consider these seven signs that your workout is too easy.
1. You Don't Feel Fatigued
"The first sign your workout is too easy is that you are no longer sweating or feeling fatigued," says Scott Herman, Head BeFit Trainer over email. "You breeze through the same routine that at one point took almost everything you had to finish." Pushing your body to new limits can help improve your metabolic health, but if you aren't expending energy, you won't receive those health perks.
2. You're Able To Hold A Full Conversation
"If you have no problem talking, and your workout is really your social hour, you are not training hard enough," says Davidson. Going to the gym can be a fun and social experience, but if your heart rate isn't up and you're able to chit chat without any heavy breathing, your workout probably isn't going to have much impact.
3. You Consistently Repeat The Same Workout
Although it's good to find a workout you love, and that shows results, to continue to build muscle, you need to sometimes switch it up, and Davidson recommends changing routines every four to six weeks. "Most people acclimate to a specific program in that time frame, and then eventually no longer respond to the workout," says Davidson. "My advice is to dramatically change your workout every four weeks to constantly excite your body and demand change from it."
4. You're Not Raising Your Heart Rate
Although it can never hurt to do any sort of exercise that works your muscles, the most effective exercises require raising your heart rate. Studies show that raising your heart rate during a workout can more effectively prevent conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson's.
5. You're Bored
"If you find yourself sitting around in between exercises, you might need to find a workout partner or coach that will push you at a reasonable pace," says fitness expert James Kilgallon over email. Chances are, if you aren't into your workout, you're not going to be putting in the energy to reach your maximum potential, so it may be time for a new routine.
6. You Don't See Progress
"You should be able to run longer or lift heavier weights after four weeks of exercise," says Dr. Robert Huizenga, the physician from The Biggest Loser, over email. Although it's normal to hit a plateau, you shouldn't be stuck at the same pace for long periods of time.
7. You Never Feel Sore
"Delayed onset muscle soreness is actually caused by small micro tears in your muscles," says Kilgallon. "When your body repairs these micro tears during rest, you then develop new lean muscle mass."
It's not necessary to feel sore after every single workout, but if it's been a few months since you felt any muscle soreness at all, you may need to reevaluate your workout.
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