“The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become.” -Jim Rohn
Muscle Soreness and Recovery
We have all been there before: We wake up the day after a tough workout and can barely get out of bed. We walk to the bathroom and can hardly bend down to turn on the shower. We then proceed to try and get dressed only to realize our legs are so sore we cannot even put on our socks. I think you get the picture…
At one point or another we have all experienced this kind of soreness. The question is, what exactly causes muscle soreness and how can we relieve and prevent it?
First off, the most popular theory of why we get sore is because of “microtrauma.” Microtrauma means we have developed microscopic tears in our muscles due to lifting a certain weight or doing a stressful movement. Now this is not always a bad thing as it is important to tear down your muscles so they can grow and get stronger.
Many times however, we get far past the point of the “good soreness” and move into the ranks of barely being able to move. So the question is:
How can you prevent muscle soreness?
Being overly sore happens for three main reasons:
Fitness Level- If you are at a high level fitness, it is probably very difficult for you to get sore. You may experience a “good soreness” after workouts but nothing overbearing. For beginners however, you may experience soreness from just about any exercise that you do. That is why it is so important to start slow and build up to doing more work in the weight room.
Volume and Intensity of your workout- Volume refers to the amount of work you do during your workout. Each rep and set adds to the total volume of your workout. Intensity refers to the amount of weight that you do during and the amount of rest you take throughout. The less rest you take, the more intense your workout will be. If you do too many set and reps or decide to lift more than you usually do, you will most likely experience soreness the next day. When trying to prevent soreness, you have to find the correct number of sets and reps to do and also find a weight that is comfortable yet challenging. Don’t go into a gym for the first time and start out by doing 8 sets of 12 reps on squats. First off you won’t be able to walk the next day and you will be sore for weeks. Find what is comfortable and build up from there.
Being Familiar With The Exercise Or Workout- I remember the very first time I did lunges back when I was ten years old. I could barely move the next day, it was terrible. This was because my body was not at all familiar with the exercise and I did far too many than my body could handle. Especially when first starting out, you have to ease into your lifts and exercises. When trying something new, always work your body up to doing more and more.
How to relieve muscle soreness?
Proper nutrition- We know the importance of nutrition and having a balanced diet is always going to be helpful in anything relating to your fitness. It is very important to fuel your body with the right nutrients, not only after your workouts but during your other meals as well.
Rest- Sleep and recovery can alleviate a lot of the soreness that is to come. If you allow your body adequate sleep and recovery time, you will greatly eliminate the oncoming soreness. I know for myself, if I go through a tough workout and don’t get a good nights sleep that night, I will wake up far more sore than when getting a good nights rest.
Active recovery- This may be one of the best things you can do when it comes to eliminating soreness. Active recovery is just that, being active for the sake of trying to recover. This could mean riding your bike, going for a light jog, or doing some body weight exercises. I find that doing body weight exercises of the workout from the previous day works the best for getting rid of soreness.
For example, lets say you did squats and barbell lunges the day before and your legs the next day are pretty sore. It would be a good idea to engage in a few body weight squats and lunges to get blood flow to your legs. Active recovery promotes blood flow and will allow you to recover more quickly.
Hydration- Drinking lots of water is key when eliminating soreness. Water helps flush toxins out of the body and will prevent muscle cramps as well.
Ice Baths- If you have access to an ice bath, this is something I highly recommend. This does an incredible job in eliminating soreness and will help you recover very quickly. An alternative to the ice bath would be to take an ice cold shower. I know for myself living in Minnesota, that shower water gets pretty dang cold in the winter time! Cold showers do not work as well as ice baths but they do help.
What if I am still getting sore?
If you believe that you are doing everything right and are still getting sore, you need to look at these three areas:
Lack of sleep: You grow and recover during your sleep and rest periods. If you lack sleep you will find it very difficult to recovery from intense workouts.
Not having proper nutrition: Working out calls for replenishing your body with the right foods and hydrating well. If you are not hydrated, you can expect more muscle soreness. This does not mean to drink Gatorade or sports drinks, water works best in replenishing your body.
As for foods, don’t fall into the “oh I can’t have carbs” state of mind. If you are working out your body needs a mixture of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats to help it recover. Try getting your carbohydrate sources within 30 minutes of your workout ending for best results. Your other meals should consist of a good source of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and depending on your goals a carbohydrate source.
Overtraining: If you are overtraining, your body never gets the chance to fully recover. It would be like driving a car that is running low on gas. You may be able to make it a few more miles but at some point your car will stop running. If you are over trained, not only will you get sore more easily and more often, but at some point your body will break down, get sick, injured, and “stop running.”
If you are over trained, the best thing you can do is rest!
Muscle soreness many times is inevitable. But far too often I see people kill themselves in the gym one day, only to have them be out for a week from being so sore. It is far better to ease your way into a workouts then be out for weeks at a time. A “good sore” is always a wonderful thing, but it is the soreness that simply hurts to move that you know you went too far.
Find a nice balance in your workouts to get that “good sore” feeling. This will allow you to grow and get better while never making you miss a workout!
My Workouts Schedule For The Week:
This week is filled with tons of great workouts that I cannot wait to get going on. I did a great leg workout earlier today that was absolutely incredible so you must give that one a try. Please note, if you have not workout out in a while be sure to lower the weight so you will not get… wait for it… OVERLY SORE!
Lower Body Day
Deadlifts: 2 sets of 7 reps with heavy weight, 1 set of 12 reps with moderate to heavy weight! Be sure your form is perfect on all your repetitions
Squats: 2 sets of 7 reps with heavy weight, 1 set of 15 reps with moderate weight (this fifteen reps will really challenge your legs. Find a weight that you are able to complete all 15 reps with. You should not however be able to complete 16 or 17 reps)
Barbell Lunges: 2 sets of 7 reps each leg with heavy/challenging weight, 1 set of 10 reps each leg with moderate weight. Keep your core tight throughout the movement
Single Leg Squat: With one foot on a bench and holding dumbbells, perform 3 sets of 10 reps each leg
Rest between exercises should be 30-60 seconds
Squat Jumps: 20 reps
Jump Lunges: 20 reps
Kettlebell Swings: 20 swings
Repeat two times
Upper Body Day
Bench Press: 2 sets of 7 reps with heavy weight, 1 set of 15 with moderate weight. You should once again be choosing a challenging weight for each set.
Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 10-12 reps. If you can, add weight and do weighted pull-ups. Beginners should complete jumping or assisted pull-ups.
Overhead Press: 2 sets of 7 reps with heavy weight, 1 set of 15 with moderate weight.
Bent Over Row: 2 sets of 7 reps with heavy weight, 1 set of 15 with moderate weight.
Really focus on having perfect form on all exercises. The combination of heavy weight/lower reps, and lower weight/higher reps will make for a great workout if you push yourself hard!
Rest between exercises should be 30-60 seconds
Pull-Ups: 5 (feel free to mix in some underhand pull-ups as well)
Repeat as many rounds as you can in 6 minutes
“Fun” Workout This Week
Not sure why I would call this one of my “fun” workouts but here it is: This is the same one that was posted on our Coffee Talk yesterday. I will most likely be partaking in this workout on Saturday (already nervous):
Run 1 mile
300 body weight squats
Run 1 mile
You will complete one mile at the beginning and end of the workout. After completing the first mile, you can complete the pull-ups, push-ups, and body weight squats in any fashion that you choose.
Beginners should lower the numbers and the distance for running. Beginners may want to start with:
Run .25-.5 mile
100-150 body weight squats
Run .25-.5 mile
Hope you enjoy! If you do partake in this workout, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how you liked it!