More often than not, potential and new trainees think that in order to have a successful workout, and to obtain a aesthetically pleasing physique, they need to feel exhausted, drained, and sore to the point of feeling hurt and not able to move. They don’t look at exercise as something that can be enjoyable, but something that must be downright torture. These thoughts and feelings couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Workouts should be enjoyable. Becoming stronger and advancing in the exercises you are performing should be fun and motivating. Looking forward to your workouts before the session, being engaged during the session, and feeling accomplished after the session are all important. You should feel invigorated after the session, while also looking forward to the ones to follow to further progress toward your goals and standards.
Physical pain should never be sought after. This isn’t battle. The whole point of training is to improve health and well-being. Yes, soreness is expected and encouraged as a marker of efficient muscle stimulation. It is a good sign that you are working hard and improving. There is a “good sore” and then there is a “bad sore”. A “bad sore” could be categorized as debilitating as you feel you are unable to move and function. Workouts aren’t supposed to be torturous, and soreness isn’t always necessary to judge if the workout was a good one.
“To judge if a workout was productive, but not excessive, look for three things:
1.) At the end of the workout you’re tired but not drained.
2.) You feel a pump in the trained muscle. The intensity of the pump will obviously depend on the type of training that you did, but you should feel the muscles that were trained.
3.) Two to three hours after the completion of the session you should yearn for more training. If you’re still tired or lack motivation to train after this amount of time, chances are the session was excessive.“ – Charles Poliquin, How To Judge If An Hypertrophy Workout Was Productive