Back off for a better body

canstockphoto16502356Here are some “fitspiration” quotes I found on Pinterest:

“Crawling is acceptable. Falling is acceptable. Puking is acceptable. Crying is acceptable. Blood is acceptable. Pain is acceptable. Quitting is not.”

“Don’t stop when it hurts. Stop when you’re done.”

“Train insane or remain the same.”

“Unless you puke, faint or die, keep going!”

“Push yourself. Break yourself. Repair yourself.”

I chose these quotes because they make me cringe. They make it sound like you’ll never get the body of your dreams if you don’t torture yourself. If you don’t pretend you’re an Olympic athlete or a navy seal.

It’s not that I don’t believe in hard work. I do. I even say go hard or go home. But training hard and training “insane” are two different concepts. One is sensible and effective. The other is reckless and dangerous, and indicative of an exercise disorder.

You want to lose fat. Gain muscle tone. Burn calories more efficiently. I’m with you there. What you probably don’t want to do is get injured. Me neither, folks.

The quotes above discount the most important fitness tool you possess—your mind. Your inner wisdom. The voice in your head that says, “back off.”

Let’s be clear. Do NOT listen to the voice that whines, “It’s too hard,” or wheedles, “…but I’m tired.” DO heed the wisdom inside you that knows the difference between muscle soreness and joint pain. Between feeling winded and feeling like you’re going to throw up. Between feeling like you can handle one more pushup and knowing that you’re sacrificing form for reps.

Let’s take this example to your training. If you’ve been doing wall push-ups for more than three months, it’s time to do incline push-ups. Go to your kitchen counter or your stairs or grab a couple chairs. Go ahead and do fewer reps, but by all means, challenge yourself to get stronger every week. You can do it.



Just don’t be reckless. Injuries take anywhere from three days to six months to heal. Longer for issues that require surgery.

If you have an injury, back off. Shoulder pain? Do more squats. Hip pain? Practice push-ups. Use your pain as an opportunity to get stronger in other parts of your body. Athletes and smart exercisers do this all the time.

So remember. It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to take a rest so your muscles can recover between sets. It’s not okay to avoid working out altogether or quit in the middle because you don’t like feeling winded.

Be smart. Be safe. Get strong sanely. Know when to go hard and when to back off.