It’s always wise to listen to your body, but what your body isn’t telling you losing weight might just hold back. At least when it’s complaining about fatigue while you, or at least your mind, is thinking about reaching a higher goal. There’s a difference between pain and fatigue, and one of the keys to successful weight loss through exercise is to know the difference. When pain and discomfort is announcing an impending injury, it’s time to slow down or stop.
But when you’re simply running out of gas, it’s time to allow your will – your mind – to take over and run the show.
For aerobic training, this means setting realistic but challenging goals in terms of time, distance and resistance (incline settings, etc.), and then pushing through that first wall of fatigue. Fatigue is usually nothing more than the body announcing that it’s running out of muscle glycogen – the blood-born fuel that fires the muscles – which is precisely what you want to happen. Because when the blood runs out of gas, the only way for the body to access fuel is to burn off fat, which is precisely the point. The more time you spend after the body begins to feel fatigued, the more fat you’ll be burning.
This holds true when lifting weights, too, but another dimension of mind-muscle connection kicks in here. Serious lifters understand the importance of the quality of muscle contraction, rather than the amount of weight being lifted. Time under contraction equals growth is the mantra for gaining lean muscle mass (something you want in order to jack up your metabolic rate), and it’s also the formula for maximum calorie expenditure during the workout itself.
You can usually get a better contraction by using slightly lighter weights, something you can execute eight to twelve times without cheating. If you can’t execute the rep slowly and smoothly, if you have to lean or jerk it into position, it’s too heavy. Another thing to remember is to mentally remove gravity and inertia from the lift. Let the muscle do all the work. Only slow, steady, intense contractions make this possible. Remember, the point isn’t to move metal, the point is to contract the muscle, which delivers the weight loss benefits you seek through maximum muscle growth and caloric burn. Moving metal around gains you nothing, contracting muscle makes you strong and lean.
Keep these mind-muscle connection thought front and center during your workouts, and you’ll get more gain from your pain, and thus, more weight loss in shorter time.