Working out should be a challenge, but it definitely should not be painful. If you find yourself running straight for the ice packs and aspirin after working out, you are probably doing something wrong. Before you convince yourself you have a wonderful excuse to quit, try evaluating your exercise program.
First, determine if you are exercising at the proper level. A beginner should not try to bench press 300 lbs or run the treadmill at the highest level. Believe it or not, starting off slowly will actually make you stronger faster, as you will avoid injuring your muscles. Also, pain is an excellent deterrent. You should feel invigorated and even a little sore, but ever like a mouse who has hit the wrong feeder bar. If you are working out at a gym, ask a trainer to help you develop a proper exercise program. If you are exercising on your own, there is a myriad of books and resources from which to learn.
Two important points people tend to minimize are stretching and warming up. These are a must. The stretching before you workout should be light, as your muscles are cold. Never bounce or be jerky. This increases the likelihood of tearing your muscles. Warm up for about 10 minutes then stretch lightly. After working out, you can stretch more thoroughly. It is very important to stretch the muscles you have just worked in order get the most out of the exercise. Stretching the muscles lengthens them and allows them to heal stronger and be more limber. Again, never bounce or jerk while stretching.
Proper form is more than important, it is a must. If you are not executing the exercise properly, you might as well not be doing it at all. Improper form leads to injuries and an inefficient use of the muscle and your time. Do not tweak yourself in order to do more sets or to keep up with an aerobics instructor. It is always quality and not quantity that will get you results. Besides, it can be quite embarrassing to be spastically moving around or straining in an unnatural position.
Further, be sure that you are giving your body ample rest time between workouts. One should not exercise the same muscles in the same manner every day. Exercising tears down the muscles. It is the healing of the muscles that makes them grow and become stronger. Try working your upper body one day and your lower body the next. Or, if you are a runner, alternate your long distance runs with weight training or short distance runs.
Finally, it is always important to use the proper equipment. Even if you are working out at home, it is imperative that you have the proper equipment. If you are doing an aerobic workout video, it may be as simple as the right pair of shoes. If you are dead lifting 500 pounds, you will also need gloves and a back support. Do not skimp on the equipment. It not only can aid in the prevention of injuries, but also help you keep good form.
If after trying all of these, you are still experiencing pain, be sure to check with your doctor. You may be doing an exercise that is not right for your body. Before you throw away your workout sweats and limp to your easy chair, be sure you are exercising correctly with the correct form and equipment. There are so many things that one can do to exercise. Don't give up.