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When Should You Give Up on a Workout?

When is the pain not worth the gain?

We've all heard that "quitters never win, and winners never quit." Working out requires a lot of dedication and persistence, especially when things get tough. After all, no pain no gain, right?

Well, the truth is that it's better to give up on a workout that is doing more harm than good. Some workouts increase your risk of injuries by pushing your body beyond its limits, and yet aren't significantly more effective than other lower-impact, less stressful workouts.

How can you know when it's time to quit? Here are a few indicators you might want to consider giving up on a workout.

Pain – Never listen to people who tell you "no pain, no gain." There is a certain amount of discomfort expected when you start working out — it's called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). However, after a few weeks, you shouldn't feel sore or in pain the day after your workouts. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. If you're in pain, it means you're moving wrong, pulled something, or pushed too hard. Workouts that cause regular, persistent pain should be abandoned.

Exhaustion – You should feel exhausted after your workout — it's a sign you worked hard and burned a lot of calories. But a good post-workout protein shake and a bit of rest will top up your fuel tank and get you back on your feet without long-term fatigue. Any fatigue or exhaustion that persists beyond a few hours, a good meal, and a night of sleep should be treated as serious.

Stiffness – Muscle stiffness is to be expected after an intense workout. However, if you feel stiffness in your joints and spine, it's usually an indication of joint damage. The stiffness (often accompanied by pain) is caused by inflammation of the joints. It's usually the result of pushing yourself too hard, moving incorrectly, or stretching too much. Either way, it's a sign you're doing the wrong thing.

Feelings of de-motivation – It's always tough to push through your initial tiredness to hit that workout at optimum intensity. However, what do you do if you're feeling depressed, demotivated, or a lack of desire to exercise? It may not be the cause of our innate desire to relax — it may be your body begging you to ease up a bit. Pushing too hard can lead to de-motivation, which can cause you to loathe or dread your workouts. Exercise should be as much fun as it is hard work. Once you stop looking forward to your training, it may be time to move on and try something new.

The truth is that there is no hard and fast rule of when it's time to change things up. All you can do is listen to your body and evaluate the signals it sends you. Even if you're getting results from your training, the signals listed above could indicate that you're doing something wrong. Considering giving your current workout a rest or switching things up. You may just find it works wonders for your fitness, motivation, and overall feelings of wellbeing!

[Image via Shutterstock]

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