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Strength vs. Cardio — Here's How You Should Structure Your Workout
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Healthy Burn vs. Painful Injury

The Difference Between a Good and Bad Burn

In Something Borrowed, Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) is constantly competing with her best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson). Remember the embarrassing club scene when Rachel tries to do a sensual dance move that she knows she isn't trained to do and pulls her adductor muscle (aka the inner thigh muscle near her hooha)?

A similar lesson applies when you attend group classes — it's a fine line between pushing yourself to work harder and unintentionally injuring yourself. It can be intimidating when an instructor calls you out for slacking, and you feel obligated to work as hard and as fast as the rest of the class. If might be difficult for you to distinguish what type of pain is good to build strength versus pain that will lead to debilitating injuries. Protect your body during group classes with these tips.

  • Speak up about pre-existing injuries — If you have a chronic injury, inform your trainer or instructor at the beginning of class. When trainers and instructors know about your pain, they will be less likely to get in your face. Also, they may offer helpful modifications that will tone you without flaring up the injury.
  • Sharp pains mean injury — If you feel a sharp pain when completing an exercise, that is your body's way of signaling you need to stop what you are doing immediately. After class, ask the instructor to correct your alignment so you can correctly perform the exercise for next time.
  • Shaking is normal — Your muscles quiver when you do a hard exercise, because they are clenching and releasing in order to perform the task you are demanding your body to do. Over time and with practice, your body will be strong enough to perform the exercise.
  • If you can't breathe and contract your abs, ease back — If you are unable to keep your abs engaged enough to support your torso and keep correct alignment while breathing, you need to ease back until you are able to perform both functions. Keeping your abs engaged will protect your back from injury and will give you better balance and stability.
  • Ignore the class, and focus on you — It's tempting to look around to gauge the skill level around you, but focus on your movement and what feels good to your body. It's always better to work up your skill level than overexert your body and unintentionally pull a muscle, sprain an ankle, or injure your back.

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