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Have you ever finished a workout and, upon finding that you didn’t sweat a lot or your heart isn’t racing or your muscles aren’t sore, you start wondering if your session was a good one? You’re not alone in that. According to a study published in the BMC Public Health journal, it’s a common perception that good workouts must leave you shaking and sweaty. However, it turns out that’s not entirely true when it comes to what makes a good workout.
Michelle Segar, Ph.D., MPH, director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy and one of the authors of the study explained, “Most people still believe older exercise recommendations and haven’t internalized the updated ones permitting less intense workouts.” She also stated that because many people think intense exercise is the only “good workout”, they are often deterred from exercising consistently or even starting a program in the first place.
If intensity, sweat, and soreness aren’t the measures of a good workout, then how can you know if the exercise was a great one? Read on and find out!
Signs of a Successful Workout
Being drenched in sweat, being short of breath, and having sore muscles aren’t the only ways to measure whether your workout was effective or not. In some cases, such as HIIT workouts or leg day, those signs may tell you that your workout was good but they’re not necessarily the end-all, be-all of a successful workout. There are other things that you can consider to assess if your exercise sessions are paying off. Here are some of them:
You Get a Good Night’s Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, if you’re sleeping more soundly and having a full night’s rest after an exercise session, you’ve probably had a great workout. Studies show that exercise improves both the quantity and quality of sleep. A night of good sleep is also critical for muscle recovery and can help lower stress levels, leading to an improvement in your overall well-being.
You’re in a Better Mood
When you exercise, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Sometimes referred to as a “runner’s high,” endorphins can shift your mood from a negative one to a more positive note. If you’re feeling energetic or find yourself on cloud nine, then you can be sure that you’re doing your exercises right. This rush of feel-good chemicals is also the reason why exercising regularly is recommended for those who feel stressed or anxious.
You Feel Hungry
Feeling hungry after a workout is a good sign. When you exercise your body uses carbs for energy. The hunger you experience after a workout means that your body is telling you to replenish what it just used up. It’s important to satisfy this post-workout hunger with nutritious options and a good amount of protein to aid your muscles in the recovery process. If you ignore the hunger after a workout, you’re risking losing the gains from your session.
You Feel Energetic
Contrary to what most people think, exercise doesn’t deplete your energy. In fact, it actually boosts your energy and lessens fatigue. If you feel more energized, that’s a good sign that your workout is working. Exercising boosts oxygen circulation in the body, allowing your body to function better and use its energy stores more efficiently. The more you exercise consistently, the less you’ll feel tired in the long run.
Your Fitness is Improving
Among other things, one of the biggest signs that show your workouts are successful is an improvement in your overall fitness. A consistent routine will lead to results such as better endurance and increased strength.
Over time, you’ll find yourself being able to perform more sets, being able to perform more repetitions, being able to lift heavier, being able to move through a greater range of motion, and being able to do a lot more than usual in your everyday life. These are the measures of success that you can be absolutely proud of.
A “good workout” whether in the office or at home doesn’t only mean you should be sweating buckets or you should be out of breath. If you find improvements in your mood, sleep, energy, and overall fitness, then you can say for sure that your workout sessions are successful.