Are you training hard enough? This is one of the more important questions that you can ask yourself in the gym.

For the overwhelming majority of gym-goers, the answer is no, and the reason might surprise you.

Training hard is not about killing yourself in the gym, feeling like you’re about to puke, nearly passing out, etc. These are common badges of the “no pain no gain type” but we’ll leave them to the crossfitters. Because they won’t help you progress much.

Training hard is about bringing the right level of intensity and focus to your training. That’s because this level of intensity and focus is necessary to drive physiological adaptation beyond the earliest newbie gains.

And when you’re doing it right, this physiological adaptation is taxing both mentally and physically.

So here’s one of the best and simplest ways to know if you’re training hard enough: the day after a training session, you should NOT want to be in the gym. You should be grateful that you have a day off. If you feel like you can have a great workout two days in a row, that’s a surefire sigh than you didn’t do the first workout right.

People who think they can effectively train multiple days in a row fall into one of the following camps:

1) they are training submaximally

2) they are brand new to proper training

3) they are on performance enhancing drugs

Of course, if you want to be in the gym 6+ days a week, be my guest. But most of the people I work with want to get the biggest bang for their buck, and that means 2-3 highly specific, focused sessions per week. They actually get more results in less time so it’s a win-win. It just requires a level of focus that most people are not used to.

This is also a good way to know if you’re training or just exercising. Most people have never actually trained in their entire life (see my posts on exercise vs training).

So next time you’re in the gym, bring the focus and intensity for your sets and then enjoy your rest days.