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You could be sabotaging your workout without realizing it

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A daily workout is a delicate thing. To get the most out of it, you have to have the correct fuel at the correct time. You have to do the right exercises on the right days and in the right order. You have to balance strength and cardio. And you have to factor rest and recovery into the equation.

One of the most important truths to keep in mind as you embark on your fitness journey, however, is perhaps the simplest: listen to your body. If you can do that, the rest becomes much easier.

With that in mind, there are some things your body may be telling you, but that you may not be correctly interpreting. This could mean you’re inadvertently sabotaging your workout.

Here are some common signs or signals that your body may be giving you — and how to understand them to get the most out of your workout and give your body what it needs.

Shaking muscles

Shaking muscles during strength workouts can sometimes be interpreted as a benign message of exhaustion from your body, an indication that you emptied the tank and left it all on the squat rack, or wherever you happen to be.

It’s certainly a sign of fatigue, but it doesn’t mean you crushed your workout. In fact, it could mean you didn’t get the most out of it.

Shaking muscles is a sign your body is indeed out of fuel — and any experienced trainer of fitness buff will tell you that’s not a good way to maximize your performance. It could also be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep, which can also be bad for your health and performance output.

Get rid of shaking muscles with a full meal a few hours before your workout or a small snack just before you hit the gym. If shaking muscles still pop up, keep a banana, protein shake, or a handful of almonds handy.

Finally, does caffeine make you jittery? If so, your preworkout could be the culprit. The average preworkout drink contains 200-300 milligrams of caffeine, or the equivalent of two or three cups of coffee.

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If I’m not sore, I didn’t work hard enough!

Sound familiar? It is a common refrain in every gym and locker room and dining room. After all, if your muscles aren’t sore, did a workout even happen?

It is indeed true that sore muscles are an indication that you got a good workout in. But the absence of soreness doesn’t necessarily mean a good workout did not happen.

Soreness can affect beginners and more experienced athletes alike, and is caused when exercise creates tiny tears in your muscle fibers. Don’t worry, though: this is a good thing, and it’s what enables your muscles to literally grow back stronger.

If you’re new to exercise and dislike the soreness, relax and try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever like Advil or Aleve.

If you were expecting soreness as a sign that you crushed your workout, but the next morning arrives with you feeling suspiciously fine, don’t worry. It simply means your body has adjusted itself to the workout and is now used to the demands you are making.

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Injuries: serious or not?

Don’t confuse soreness or a common bruise with an injury. Although all three can have the same general symptom — you know, pain and discomfort — soreness will go away in about three days. An injury, meanwhile, will usually persist beyond that point.

Furthermore, while soreness is a duller pain that you feel more generally in a certain section of the body, the pain caused by an injury will be sharper and located in a more specific place. Injury-related pain may also be more likely to grow stronger if the area is moved or touched.

If you think you may have an injury, look for swelling around the area (soreness does not cause swelling). Ice the area for about 20 minutes, then remove the ice for about the same amount of time, then repeat. If the source of the swelling is not serious, it, too, will subside in a few days. If it doesn’t, it may be time to make an appointment to see your health care professional.

The more exercise you do, the more you’ll understand what your body is telling you. These signals are often misinterpreted, so when you experience them be careful to take note. If your muscles are shaking, did you eat before you came to the gym? If so, perhaps that preworkout gave you a little too much of a jolt. Is your back still sore even though it’s been a full week since your last set of lat pulls? You may need to contact your doctor.

Every situation is unique, and no matter your situation, once you see the signs and can respond accordingly, the solution will become much easier to see and to achieve.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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