“What happened to me?”
“MAN, I am out of shape!”
“I didn’t know I could hurt this bad.”
“I had no idea I had muscles here!”
Those are all VERY common things I hear when people start back up (or for the first time) on the workout train.
EVERY movement hurts.
Going up the stairs.
Getting up out of bed.
Washing your hair.
Getting up and down off the toilet (I always giggle when clients tell me this one – don’t
be embarrassed, it happens to just about everyone!).
Just remember, that I’m hurting at the same time….
Do you know what hurts on me?
Because they start burning as you start cursing my name with every movement!
There’s good news though, just as I survive you cursing my name, you WILL survive the incredible soreness.
Maybe you’re just starting back up, reading this, and you’re afraid of all that.
Don’t be! I’ve put together a list of six things to help! Things that will hopefully minimize the inevitable soreness that comes even with the greatest training programs in the world.
Don’t Skip a Warm Up
I’ll be the first to admit that warming up is my least favorite part of the workout.
For the longest time, I believed warming up took away from my workout time, and that’s what I’m here for, so why bother?
Well after years of convincing and no longer feeling like an energetic teenager, every one of my workouts now includes a warm up.
It’s just THAT important. There are so many things that take place even in a small 5-minute warm up, that it really should be a non-negotiable.
So what DOES happen?
- Increased blood flow to working muscles – more than likely, you are fresh out of bed or hopping out from your desk at work, which means, muscles have not been receiving anything more than the bare minimum of blood. Taking the time to move your body and get the blood pumping, warms them up (literally), prepares muscles for the increased blood flow that takes place during a workout, flushes out some toxins, and restores the muscles with nutrients.
- Increase breathing rate and oxygen intake – MOST workout styles are going to result in an elevated breathing rate to accommodate the increased heart rate and blood flow; therefore, we want to utilize a warm up to gradually raise the breathing rate and oxygen levels in the body. That oxygen gets passed through the lungs and onto muscles and organs of the body to get them fresh and ready to go!
- Prepares neuromuscular system for interaction – the nervous and muscular systems interact in every moment of the day; however, that is done in a minimally stressful way. The connection between the two systems needs to be primed and prepared for additional stress, or else you put yourself at a greater risk for injury.
- Mental Preparation for physical stress – warming up poses just as much benefit to the mental as it does to the physical. It allows your brain to prepare for the stress it is about to endure, and what you might find, is that you are more mentally capable of managing that stress.
Technique is #1
This is one of the most underrated aspects of strength training.
Do you want to get hurt?
Do you like when you’re in pain?
Sure, we all like the burn and pain in our muscles when we’re working out, but I’m talking REAL pain – achy knees, low back pain, or numbness in hands or feet.
Nobody likes that!
Yet so few people like to invest in themselves enough to prevent it.
Find a coach or trainer and pay for some sessions to learn technique, and by learn it, I really mean LEARN it.
I am fairly certain you will pay for it at some point, and I can pretty confidently say that a medical bill will be far more expensive than a coaching bill.
Unfortunately, walking through gym equipment, I find a handful of people packing on the weight and throwing technique out the door.
Technique should always be mastered before adding any weight.
Then, once you are successfully able to handle the weight with proper technique, increase the weight.
Long-term, you are capable of lifting more weight and performing more reps with proper technique, so start there!
Start Lighter Than You Think
Okay, so let’s say you’re just jumping back into things, technique is there and you’re body is feeling pretty good, where should you start with the weights?
Lighter than you think, ALWAYS.
Trust me, your body will appreciate it tomorrow and the coming days from now.
How much lighter?
It truly depends on the individual and exercise, but at a minimum 10 pounds.
I know it will feel easy, and you’re going to call me crazy, but remember the last time you started up again? How sore you felt? That is exactly the reason you want to hold off on the heavy lifting.
Need more convincing? Here are 3 reasons why you should start lighter:
- Significantly reduced soreness.
- Provides your neuromuscular systems a friendly reminder of how and what it’s supposed to do.
- Significantly reduces risk for injury.
More Reps are Not Better
So naturally you should add more sets and reps, right?
The reason for mastering technique and keeping the weight light is to ease our body into the physical stress of working out.
Piling on the sets and reps is another way of adding physical stress!
When you start strength training, you’re already ramping up the physical stress on the body, so there really is no reason to perform set after set.
Start at 3 to 4 sets consisting of 8 to 12 reps.
This puts you in a great position to allow the body to acclimate to the stress without adding a significant amount of stress on the muscles and joints.
Core Is In Every Exercise
The reason you started strength training is to get fitter, be leaner, and ultimately look good naked.
The core plays a major role in that.
SO many people who start back up in strength training go through their workout and save 15 to 20 minutes to pound out a bunch of core work.
Save yourself the time and your body the stress, and give attention to your core in every exercise.
The reality is that your core is involved in EVERY exercise.
If you didn’t have a core, you would fall over in a back squat.
If you didn’t have a core, your body wouldn’t even be able to withstand the change in
weight position as you move through the range of a biceps curl!
Set your core at the start of every exercise, better yet, at the start of every rep. Not only will you see changes in your core, but also in your exercises and the weight you’re able to lift.
You will no longer need those 15 to 20 minutes of core at the end, nor should you keep it in there!
Keep one or two core specific exercises if you’d like, but your core will already have taken on a great deal of work!
Move Throughout the Day
The LAST thing you need to remember as you start strength training is: KEEP MOVING!
Too often, people finish up a workout and head right into their sedentary day. They justify the sedentary lifestyle with the fact that he or she worked out that morning, so it balances out.
Trust me, your body will thank you if you continue to move throughout the day!
Recently, I had a few clients start back up after time away. Yikes, were they sore! But the one who went on with her day moving around as if she hadn’t worked out recovered significantly better than the one who transferred herself from the car seat to the couch seat.
When you keep yourself moving, you continue to pump new blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles while also pumping out the toxins built up from muscular breakdown.
You will be stiff and sore while moving around, but that feeling goes away MUCH faster the more you move as you start back into strength training.