One big mistake I see people make when they train is being honest with theirselves about what they accomplished during the session. Too often I meet beginners who judge their training session on two questions.
Question 1. Did I sweat?
I agree we should all sweat during any training session, yet this is one of many factors that can tell us if we trained hard. Obviously the temperature in your training facility can affect this greatly. In addition to this some people just tend to sweat more than others. Also, training age can greatly affect how much one sweats. Generally speaking the more years of training one has under the belt the more they will sweat. The body does adapt so it will adapt to sweating just as with any other process.
Question 2. Am I sore?
Soreness tends to occur after a breakdown in muscle tissue has happened. This can be a very good thing, yet we do not need to be so sore after each and every training session that we can’t walk. Being too sore too often can mean that your body is not prepared for the training that you are asking of it. This does not mean the workout was great, it does mean you had high levels of muscular damage.
So how do we evaluate a training session?
First and foremost ask yourself the basic question did I improve? If you did more weight, ran faster or improved in any area of your training then the answer is probably yes. This question should be a much deeper then just how did you feel. In addition to this be sure that you are tracking your progress somehow. Recently we added teambuildr app to our classes. This is a great way to track what you have been doing and if you are progressing. Look at your graph and you should know if your workouts are progressing.
A final point I would be remiss if I did not mention is the lifters that I see who use a RPE. RPE is Rating of Perceived Exertion, without going into too much history this was developed to allow people to judge how hard they were training, and it was based on heart rate. Initially the scale used was 6-20. You would run then ask on a 6-20 scale how you felt, the theory was 6 would be a heart rate of 60 and 20 would be a heart rate of 200. What was found was this is not even close to how the body adapts to acute stressors. So the numbers were changed from 1-10, similar to a pain scale. Many lifters use this method to judge their lifts. The issue with this is people have a hard time being honest with theirselves. I have seen too many eager lifters grind a rep out and then write down RPE 7. At this point I am pretty sure that this person shouldn’t use an RPE scale. If you choose to use this method video your lifts and ask yourself, if this was someone else lifting what would you rate the lift at on your scale?
Pointers for improving your evaluation of your workouts.
- Record Everything
- Test what you want to improve
- Realize not everyday will be a perfect session
- Be consistent
If you follow these 4 tips I promise you’ll improve.