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The 6 Signs of a Good Workout

Experts in exercise physiology on the evidence of an effective session.

It's the committed exerciser's conundrum: While beginners might know they worked hard thanks to sore muscles never used, the fitter you get, the harder it becomes to tell [what’s hard].

The signs you might think convey a workout well done aren’t always such great indicators. Take sweat: How much fluid you lose while exercising is incredibly subjective. The average person sweats between 0.8 and 1.4 liters in 60 minutes of working out, says Michael J. Ryan, Ph.D., an associate professor of exercise science at Fairmont State University.

And because your body adapts to your workload, soreness isn’t always a great method of measurement either. Nor is wanting to empty the refrigerator. “There is very little scientific evidence to support that phenomenon,” says Ryan.

Below, exercise physiologists outline the surefire signals your workout worked.