Oftentimes, the answer involves intensity. The harder the workout the better; lifting big heavy weights, getting out of breath, and pushing yourself to the limit (sometimes past it). The fitness industry has developed an “all or nothing” attitude which leads people to believe that as long as they’re giving it their all, that’s all that matters.
Working hard and challenging yourself is important, but it should be at a level that is appropriate for you. Training frequently at a high intensity can lead to extreme muscle soreness, mental and physical burnout, and potential injury.
A “good” workout should be sustainable; It shouldn’t leave you sore 3 or 4 days after. It shouldn’t affect your ability to perform daily activities, in fact, it should do the opposite; It should make you feel better. Of course there will be some initial soreness when learning new movements or getting back in the gym after some time off, but easing into things will make your experience much more pleasant. There is no rush in your fitness journey. Pushing yourself too hard too fast will force you to take time off, leaving you in a constant cycle of starting and stopping something.
Consistent, moderate effort will allow you to train more frequently. It will help you understand your body better and know when it’s appropriate to push it a little harder and when to back off. Intensity is important because it causes change and promotes adaptation; its just not appropriate at high levels all the time.
Your approach to your health should be long term. Being constantly sore or injured from training will prevent you from being consistent. Prioritizing consistency over intensity will result in sustainable, long term progress.