Good Workout vs. Getting Tired

Here’s how you can get anybody really tired:  Tell them to do 1000 pushups in the next 10 minutes.  But is that a good workout?  I wanted to take a quick look at the relationship between a good workout and getting tired.

So I asked you for an awesome workout and all you could think of off the top of your head was an obscene number of pushups in a relatively short time frame.  I start doing pushups, unaware of the impossible task before me.  I keep doing pushups until I get tired and they start to get sloppy (an absolute law: when fatigued, form WILL fail).  But I’m only at like 35, I still need to do 965 more pushups in the next 9 minutes and 20 seconds.  So I take a break and keep going.  Now I get exhausted after like 12 and they get sloppy.  So I add another break and do two more.  This goes on for ten minutes and I’m exhausted.  I’m covered in sweat from head to toe and can barely feel my arms.  I got sick twice, but still continued to do pushups.  I didn’t even get close to your goal of 1000 pushups in ten minutes, but I sure got really tired.

Now comes the real question.  What did I accomplish?  That’s a question that doesn’t get asked often enough in the fitness world.  I would say most people would argue I didn’t get any better at doing pushups.  I certainly didn’t burn a significant amount of fat.  I won’t be packing on slabs of muscle from that one bout of pushups.  All I did was get tired.  (And learn to hate pushups forever.  I would never do that workout again, it would be horrible. )

So without any training knowledge or experience you managed to make me get really tired.  Time to quit your day job and start your path to fame and fortune in the fitness world?  Maybe, but let’s take a look at the job description of a fitness professional.  I would put that definition as ‘someone with an understanding of human physiology that helps someone achieve their fitness related goals’.  Technically speaking, and I’ll probably regret saying this, but I think the understanding of physiology isn’t even a requirement (although it helps).  Getting back to the very basics, if you didn’t hurt someone and you helped them achieve their goal, you’re right (Thanks Dan John).  But I digress.

It all comes back to goals.  If your GOAL (the WHOLE reason you want to spend time working out, and there can certainly be more than one!) is to get tired then anything will do the trick.  But let’s just say you wanted to look better at the beach.  In that case we are looking at an end goal of fat loss, not tiredness.  We need to spend our time doing things that are goal oriented.

Will you get tired doing some of the things required to look better on the beach?  Yes.  But the important thing to remember is it’s not getting tired that’s causing your beachwear to fit better, it’s what’s causing you to get tired.  It has to be the correct reason for experiencing “tired.”  Tired because your workout called for 100 deadlifts, bad.  Tired because you did 3 sets of 5 deadlifts at a heavy weight with perfect form, good.  There IS a difference.

Just remember to focus on your goals and what is going to help you get closer to them when it comes to working out.  It’s not a workout contest.  The carrot is at the END of the stick, not the act of walking towards it.

-Hunter

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