Story sponsored by Genesis Fitness.
When it comes to working out, there is one overarching quandary that plagues every gym goer, from the greenest novice to the most sculpted body builder...
How do you know when to push yourself a little harder and when you should simply back it off a bit?
It's not an easy question to answer. At the end of the day, the thing that makes your muscles to grow is the fact that you're causing them to tear slightly.
When they recover and repair themselves, they become bigger, stronger and able to deal with heavier weights. That's what working out is.
However, if you push yourself too hard, have bad form or work out too frequently, it can cause far greater injuries.
These can range from pulled muscles, tendon damage and stress fractures (which take weeks or months to repair) right through to neck and back injuries, which can have lifelong ramifications.
That's why, personal trainer Alex Hersey says, you need to listen to your body and pay attention to what it is trying to tell you.
The 24-year-old has been helping people reach their physical goals for more than three years and is a lifelong fitness fanatic. He has also completed a degree in exercise science.
If his experience has taught him nothing else it is that you need to be smart about the way you work out, this includes paying attention to warning signs your body is giving you.
"It's different for different people but what you need to pay attention to is 'autoregulation', which basically means training by feel," Mr Hersey explained.
"You see, your body has a lot of different stresses - not just training - and it all releases the stress hormone cortisol," he continued.
"Training doesn't happen in a vacuum, it's all contributing to your overall stress and when your sleeping patterns aren't good and your nutricion isn't good, that is 100 percent going affect your training...
"You're better off not trying to separate physical stress from emotional and metal stress. It's all stuff you need to recover from."
Mr Hersey also believes it is essential to listen to your body when it comes to setting up your workout regime.
There's no point in going for an all or nothing training schedule if it is beyond your capability. At the end of the day, he says, you're better off focusing on long term progress instead of immediate gains.
"Especially when you're starting out, you need to think about where it is you're coming from," he explained.
"I get this all the time when I talk to clients who have never lifted weights before and I give the analogy: 'If you can only do ten push ups, well every extra push up you can do the following week is progress'... " he continued.
"Every little thing you do will make you better at it over time, so why would want to start out by trying to do everything at once? Just pull back when you feel like you need to."
He also pointed out that overtraining significantly increased the risk of serious injury, which could set you back in the long run.
That's why, he says, you're better off starting with a more manageable routine and slowly increasing the intensity. Equally important, is listening to your body when it comes to pain.
"Sometimes, you do have to push through the pain a little bit but that is the art of training. It's just about trying to find the right intensity," Mr Hersey explained.
"Most guys, generally speaking... get the taste for it and like the feeling and tend to think: 'Oh wow, I did that and I got a bit bigger and a bit stronger. Why don't I do three times as much and I'll get bigger quicker.' But this will lead to your progress stalling/plateauing quicker than it would if you slowly build up your training," he continued.
"A good indicator when you're a bit more experienced is your level of joint pain and your psychological readiness to train. If you wake up and your back is already feeling really sore, you feel lethargic and you're not keen to train, that's a good indicator to either take it very lightly or take the day off. Conversely, when the body feels good and the mind feels good, push it hard."
He also said you need to make sure your form is right when lifting weights, otherwise all you're doing is wasting energy and increasing your risk of injury, all while not building muscle.
"There are two types of 'failure' (when lifting weights): there's 'muscular failure' - where you can't physically get the weights back up - and then there's 'technical failure' where you can complete the rep but the technique is going to be awful," he explained.
"You should always think about technical failure. If the only way for you to complete your set is for you to push through and cause your form to become total garbage, then don't do it. If you're doing a deadlift wrong, for example, it can cause lower back problems."
Perhaps the most important thing to listen to your body on is when it needs time to recover.
"Recovery time is everything," Mr Hersey said.
"When you work out, what you're doing is putting your body under stress, allowing it to recover and then adapting from it. The key to that process is the recovery," he continued.
"The best way to think about it is when you come into the gym, you're not actually growing. What you're doing in the gym is breaking yourself down. When you go home, that's when the real growth happens."
Story sponsored by Genesis Fitness.