Feel the Burn – Bad Fitness Tips

“Feel the burn!” it is a frequently repeated signal that encourages trainees to work harder and longer than usual. Many people enjoy this discomfort, but depending on the circumstances, this “burn” is not always a reliable indicator of a good or effective workout. This is what happens and why the “burning sensation” is overrated.

Don’t Blame Lactic Acid

It is widely believed that this burning sensation in the muscles is due to the build-up of lactic acid (scientifically called lactic acidosis ) from really hard exercise that makes you choke out, such as high-intensity interval training; or, in some cases, high repetition strength training . For years, lactic acidosis has indeed been the classic explanation for why muscles tire during intense exercise, but more recent evidence suggests that thisexplanation simply doesn’t work .

The first confusion is that the body produces lactate , not lactic acid. We tend to use them interchangeably, but the difference lies in their chemical structure. And while there is a strong correlation between exercise intensity, lactate levels, and decreased performance, lactate itself has not been shown to be a direct cause of burns (and possible muscle fatigue). In fact, some researchers are exploring other explanations for lactate.

For example, this study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, shows that lactate alone does not significantly affect muscle fatigue and does not affect the ability of muscles to continue working. What happens then? One explanation for this neat article in the American Journal of Physiology suggests that during intense exercise, a completely separate response that occurs along with energy and lactate production increases the levels of hydrogen ions in muscle cells. The build-up of hydrogen ions makes things more acidic and contributes to the burn that some of us glorify.

Then, like a crazy twist on a good movie, the once despised lactate actually delays rather than contributes to muscle fatigue by helping to remove hydrogen ions through lactate formation and decreasing the acidity of muscle cells. Basically, without lactate build-up, your muscles tire even faster.

So it turns out that lactate is not the bad guy we once thought of; just a misunderstood comrade.

Why “Burn” Doesn’t Really Help

Ironically, fitness tends to create this mixed love / hate relationship with discomfort (excessive sweating, fatigue, soreness, “burning sensation”, etc.) and, ultimately, reward.

While a burn can quickly turn from discomfort to downright unbearable, you will be surprised to learn how many people deliberately pursue this feeling. Sure, it helps them exercise, but it’s essentially a harmful feedback loop that perpetuates the misconception that exercise should be punishment. (Spoiler alert : It doesn’t.) #Fitspiration mumbo-jumbo aside, using metrics like this to measure the effectiveness of your workout is a very unproductive workout anyway. JC Dean , Frequent Consultant and Personal Trainer for Lifehacker, notes:

If you only burn to feel like you’ve done a good job, then it’s pointless without a goal. For example, if you are focusing on maximizing strength gains, then this is probably a bad idea, as these types of sets / reps [intense training with high reps] will drastically reduce your ability to recover and continue to train.

We have already disproved myths that blame lactate itself for both muscle burns and post-workout soreness or delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) . It is important to note that in some cases, deliberate muscle burning does not even result in soreness, which is usually associated with muscle damage, growth, and repair. In fact, we know that we are more likely to experience soreness from eccentric muscle contractions (think downhill running or the downward portion of the bicep curl) without any noticeable burning sensation in the muscles during them.

Sure, you can use burn-in to help you (poorly) understand how hard you are working, but here’s a better way: the perceived exertion level (RPE) scale . With the RPE scale described in our article , you rate your effort and intensity in the gym on a scale of 1-10, with scores of 7, 8, and 9, with minor adjustments that can affect how much you hold back. The scale isn’t perfect, but it does provide better guidance to help you adjust the intensity of your workout based on how you feel, rather than just running to the ground every time.

Plus, if you get super sore throats or feel miserable all the time, you might end up discouraged from wanting to work again, or have a dull workout repeatedly after.

Where “burn” really helps

Of course, there are times when a burning sensation can be useful, for example, when you really want to feel how these muscles are working and properly cut (so called connection between the mind and muscles), to increase muscle size and improve overall fitness by using such methods, like high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Interestingly, newer studies on lactate, such as those collected in this review article in The Scientific World Journal, show that lactate is a versatile and viable fuel source that is used by various cells in the body – not just during periods of oxygen deprivation like and many others. people once thought too; lactate is used for moderate to vigorous exercise and even at rest. As you continue to push yourself towards higher lactate levels and improve your fitness, your body makes the necessary adaptations to better absorb more lactate and use it (and other fuel sources) for energy.

Further, we know that muscle growth depends on a number of factors, the most important of which, according to hypertrophy researcher Brad Schoenfeld, are muscle damage, metabolic stress, and mechanical stress. Simply put, think about post-workout soreness, burns, and the strenuous effort of lifting heavy weights, respectively.

In addition, Brad wrote areview article in the journal Sports Medicine examining metabolic stress and its many potential mechanisms for making your muscles grow, noting that if you want to build muscle and be able to handle more stress in general, there are something about the idea of ​​a nudge. yourself through the burn. (To be a little pedantic, Brad refers to a bodybuilding term called “pump,” which is similar but not quite the same as feeling a burn.) JC says “it can be good feedback that you create the necessary muscle damage … to stimulate [muscle] growth and adaptation the way you want. “

“It’s a good idea only if it makes sense within your program and has a purpose,” adds JC. Some of these things that make sense include high rep workouts, HIITs, circuit workouts, supersets, and so on.

Know when to push and when to step back

If you have a lot of stressors in your life, feel exhausted from a lack of sleep or rest , exercise a lot, or have previous injuries, then you won’t benefit from constantly trying to push your muscles to their level. limits. The real purpose of training is not to make your muscles burn; it is to establish consistency and habits that will make real lasting changes in your body and mind. This way you can exercise more often, get the full benefits of exercise, and be less unhappy.

Remember that our bodies are not machines with specific entrances and exits. You will be in good shape without permanent muscle burns or soreness in the short term. More importantly, you recover adequately from exercise to help you achieve your short and long term fitness goals.


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