How many times have you heard this expression: No pain = no gain?
This isn't necessarily true. You can still get great results from a decent workout without killing yourself.
Don't believe me? Take a look at fit people. They have don't kill themselves in order to be fit. They just workout regularly.
Killer Workouts Can be Damaging
While doing a killer workout might get you weight loss results faster, it can often come as an expense to your body. Here are a few examples: muscle pulls, torn tendons and ligaments, joint pain, muscle tears.
Not only are they unpleasant but these types of injuries are damaging to your body! Yup, you heard that right. Your body might recover now when you are young, but lots of these injuries can often call for hip replacements, shoulder surgeries and walking canes when you become older.
I have seen it too often. A person comes to the gym and feels super brave and excited about working out so they push as hard as they can. Next thing you know they are sitting on the ground with an ice pack on their knee or hunched over a garbage can vomiting.
If I were you, I'd be careful with super hard workouts where you are placing too much stress on your body. What is a super hard workout? Lifting too heavy, doing more reps that you can to the point where your form is very bad or doing exercises that will require lots of high impact jumping and moving around. If you want to lift heavy - then build up to it. If you want to jump around then you have to make sure that you have got the right technique down and that your body is able to support any impact from the jump.
As a trainer I can often use my client's facial expression as an indicator of how much they can do. If I ask for 20 reps but they start to make a face at 12 then I will push them to only 14-15 reps. I might ask for two more reps a couple of weeks later once my client has built up strength.
Another indicator is pain. If your lower back starts to hurt while doing crunches it simply means that you are not strong enough just yet for that particular exercise. So find another exercise that isn't as hard and work your way up. In time you will be able to do more.
Here is another guideline. If you feel nauseous or lightheaded, then it is probably best to take it easy. It is a clear sign that your body is not handling it well! There is no need to torture yourself.
The point is that you should always listen to yourself and not always believe the no pain and no gain statement.
When to Push Yourself
Make sure that if you are starting to workout then you adapt your body to exercise by building a base. This means doing a few moderate workouts before really pushing your limits.
If you have a trainer and they push you very hard to the point where you will be sick then make sure you tell them. They might not always be in-tune with how you feel and sometimes they can make a mistake and do some damage which will cost you in the long run.
If you don't feel any pain, discomfort, if you can maintain a proper form and can breathe without your heart rate through the roof, then you are probably strong and fit enough to handle a little more. In that case, go ahead and push your limits.