the joy of strength training


March 19th, 2008 at 12:27 am

How do workouts make you feel?

I suspect all of us have emotional routines attached to our training sessions that play a big part in the training process. I often feel nervous before a workout, but at the same time I know this is a good thing. If I don’t feel nervous, a little voice in the back of my head admits that perhaps this should be classed as an easy session or active recovery.

pushing it to the limit in competitionThe nervousness starts several hours beforehand and kicks in with about an hour to go. Then suddenly I can’t wait to get to the gym, just to get the bloody thing over and done with – the nervousness is killing me!

On the way to the gym, the adrenalin starts pumping, I start getting a bit excited and have to remind myself to warm up properly. Right before the workout, whether it is heavy lifting or high intensity conditioning, the nerves briefly reappear and I faff about making sure everything is set up just so.

Then all of a sudden it’s into the workout and all systems go. Finally, I am having some fun! Yes, it is usually painful, messy, infuriating and desperate but there’s no way I’m going to stop until it’s done or I hurt something.

Some days I really feel that I am pushing myself to the limit. Other times I am working really hard, but I know deep down that I am not pushing myself as hard as I can go. What makes me push myself harder? Competition, definitely! Other people watching, other people shouting encouragement, good music.

Unfortunately most of the time I don’t have any of this. I like to think it is character-building, trying to push yourself to the limit while all around you people are chatting and pec-dec-ing while cheap music video channels pump out ‘hits of the nineties’.

I finish and either collapse in a heap or sit down and try not to faint (if it’s a max strength day). After about a minute, when the recovery has kicked in, I am already re-writing history and thinking “dammit, I could have done that quicker/heavier/better!’

But I always leave the workout on a high and the buzz lasts for the rest of the day.

How about you? How does your training make you feel?

Related posts

Stumble it! Share Subscribe to this blog
  • 1

    I lean towards existential paralysis when I think deeply about any subject let alone me workouts. One night, when waxing rhapsodic, I thought that training, that physicality brings me to my senses, awakening me from my dogmatic slumber. It takes me through the rich history of evolutionary biology that is my body – what it was built for, what it has adapted to, what it will forge into. Deliberate mindful movement begets illumination. Illumination begets clarity.

    ultrafknbd on March 19th, 2008
  • 2

    I’m always nervous before my CrossFit WOD – it’s gonna be hard, is gonna hurt. Yet I like that and always looking forward.
    As for pushing more – IMHO sometimes, is good to not go on 100 %. At least myself I just can’t all the time.

    Petr R. on March 19th, 2008
  • 3

    @ ultrafknbd: workouts obviously move you deeply! I agree that training certainly clarifies and simplifies. It makes me a better person.

    @ Petr R: Yes, I know what you mean! I don’t think the nerves ever go away.

    gubernatrix on March 19th, 2008
  • 4

    I get nervous if I’m about to add weight to something, particularly the bench press if I’m doing it without a spotter i.e. most of the time.

    Although I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. After a workout, my head is filled with nothing, which is exactly what I need. Sometimes my body feels physically tired, and it’s such a nice feeling compared to something like mental exhaustion.

    Rooroo on March 20th, 2008
  • 5

    @ Rooroo: completely agree, both the pain of training and the post-workout bliss seem to banish stress from the brain.

    Is there any way you can get a spotter for your bench? It’s really not a lift to fail on! One gym I go to doesn’t even allow benching without a spotter.

    Do you work out at home?

    gubernatrix on March 20th, 2008
  • 6

    No, I work out at my uni gym, I think my reluctance to find a spotter had something to do with a mini fear of upping the weights slightly, as if my strength gains had all been in my head. Luckily there are always instructors around, so I’ll nab one, they’re never on the gym floor though, they tend to hang around in the office.

    Interesting yours doesn’t allow anyone to bench without a spotter. At mine you can pretty much juggle knives.

    Rooroo on March 20th, 2008
  • 7

    Good idea, that’s what the staff should be there for!

    My gym is an independent gym run by a guy who knows what he’s doing. 🙂

    I don’t mind the laissez-faire, anything-goes places because at least you know where you stand. But places that have silly rules about some things but completely ignore other (more important) things are annoying!

    Some gyms I have been to won’t let me lift without wearing trainers or film my lifts and yet they are perfectly happy for people to be benching heavy without a spotter or safety bars. Muppets!

    gubernatrix on March 20th, 2008
  • 8

    Oh dear!

    I’ve been very tempted to film my squat. Might get my friend to come in with me and do it.

    Rooroo on March 20th, 2008
  • 9

    Definitely do it – so useful and revealing!

    gubernatrix on March 20th, 2008
  • 10

    That’s a very interesting idea that if you’re not feeling nervous before a workout, it could mean that you’re not expecting to push yourself hard enough!

    I’m not normally nervous before exercising but I think I could be a little more nervous before hard workouts. Or I guess I should look at how far I do push myself! It’s easy to forget and slack off.

    Lady G on March 21st, 2008
  • 11

    Yes, I do find that if you are pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone in most if not all workouts, your fitness goes through the roof! You also get that extra feeling of achievement from doing something you previously thought you couldn’t do.

    gubernatrix on March 21st, 2008
  • 12

    One thing I found out after receiving a heart rate monitor for christmas was that I have been pushing myself too hard when doing cardio. Now when controlling my heart rate, progress is better and I even sometimes find the workouts to be “comfortable” 🙂

    When training with others I can be a tad nervous before we get going, but once we start I am 100% into it. I find it easier to push myself hard when I work out for myself. I probably dont go 100% during organized training becouse I dont know what comes next.
    Before competitions on the other hand, than I can really feel the butterflies take off. Some adrenaline is good, but not too much.

    Rolfe on March 21st, 2008
  • 13

    Good point Rolfe! When doing recovery sessions or distance/endurance work you do need to control the intensity.

    I still used to fear long runs though – but more because of the ache and fatigue that I knew would ensue, rather than feeling sick or being out of breath.

    Comfortable recovery sessions are also nice to do. I think it’s a question of recognising when you are taking it a bit easier because that is part of your programme; as opposed to taking it easy all the time and not making progress!

    But thanks for pointing out that it’s not necessary to go 100% all the time.

    gubernatrix on March 21st, 2008
  • 14

    Well I’m probably an aweful long way off your fitness/ strength levels and also many of your readers. But I still really enjoy pushing myself. This is more likely to be in the cardio area for me or a gym circuit class. It is a bit uncomfortable to have almost literally run out of breath and be fighting to catch it again. But it is also a great sense of achievement too to be that k…! I’m resting a shoulder injury at the moment which is a pain (!) and means I’m not able to do any upper body work. Very frustrating – but I take it out on the bike and my abs instead!

    After a good workout (I can’t guarantee 100% as an older keep fitter!) I just feel a wonderful warm glow all over that seems to last the whole day. All my senses feel 10% more acute. Nothing like it!

    I think the comment made by an earlier poster was very important – if you’re working in a class and don’t know what is coming next, you do tend to keep a little in reserve if possible.

    rolandsc on March 24th, 2008
  • 15

    I also feel the same when doing a class or something like a Crossfit routine, particularly one I haven’t done before. Sometimes it’s appropriate just to go for it from the beginning, and sometimes you need to pace yourself in order to achieve your best time. But the overall effect is still 100% effort!

    gubernatrix on March 25th, 2008
  • 16

    When about to embark on a workout I gety angry/nervous. Angry that I get nervous about a workout, then I take it on face to f****ng face, toe to toe.
    Conquer each bit, never let it beat you because if it does your weak in the mind.
    Train like it’s going to be your last session, be relentless in your goal of finishing the job in hand.
    Training isn’t a social club it’s a f****ng way of life, it’s not lycra clad, Ipod wearing, recumbent cycling reading a book, it’s about feeling that your heart & lungs are being ripped out and your so tired after that you can’t think straight, hate your workout, I hate everyone while I’m doing them but after, the feeling of achievement is unexplainable.
    Then I go home to the only better things than training, Mrs vanders & the kids.
    There not the most brilliantly written piece but straight from the heart!
    Hope all’s well with you Sal’

    In training


    Vanders' on April 22nd, 2008
  • 17

    You’re always an inspiration, V!

    I’m good, thanks. Doing a lot of climbing at the moment so arms are constantly tired!

    gubernatrix on April 28th, 2008
  • 18

    […] How do workouts make you feel? […]


RSS feed for comments on this post | TrackBack URI