Sometimes your best is not always your best

young asian sportswoman having rest after workout in park
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

We are not the same every day. There are many things that influence how we perform day to day: recovery time, the foods we eat, quality of sleep, alcholol consumption, etc. But yet we like to see improvements day to day when working out or performing. But that isn’t really realistic, is it? It may serve us well to be in tune to what our body is telling us and to then adapt accordingly.

what

Let me relate a recent experience with you. My current running routine has one slow day a week and the remainder workouts are intervals. When doing my interval days I like to keep the speed of the fast interval at no less than the last workout. I want to see progress and I want to make sure I’m working hard so I realize the progress. But my interval workout didn’t go that way. I didn’t get enough quality sleep the night before. I knew it as I woke up feeling like I really didn’t sleep at all. I could have easily stayed in bed for another hour that morning, but that’s how bad habits start.

I arrived at the gym, jumped on the treadmill and started my warmup/run. I was able to complete my first interval without issue but it wasn’t easy. I had to push a little more than normal. It felt like I hadn’t ran in 2 weeks. Next interval the same. Then, on my 3rd interval I made the decision to dial it back a bit. I feared if I didn’t I would either injure myself as I would be extending myself and that is when form takes a hit and becomes sloppier, or I could injure myself as I could put myself into an over trained state. That can lead to injury or sickness.

3 days later after some nights of better sleep I found myself at the gym again ready for my interval training. I felt rested and good. I did my first interval running at the speed I had worked up to, and I felt great. When I hit the slow part of my interval I listened to my body to get an idea of what my perceived exertion was and it wasn’t as high as some other times. My next interval I decided to add .5 mph to the speed, the fastest I have run in quite a while. Did it and I felt great, still! Next interval my fast speed was now a 1 mph increase. I finished my run completing the fast parts of my interval at the fastest speeds yet, and I also extended my run by 5 minutes. I completed what I wanted to do, experienced growth in my performance even though a few days earlier I performed below what my average was.

Growth does not happen exponentially but more inline with a continuous S curve where we plateau and then grow. And the more we know when we are plateauing, and the more we listen to our body the shorter time we will spend at the plateau or worse, falling off of the plateau.

how

Let’s look at some tools we can use to better understand how we are progressing in our workouts.

  • Journal: I’ve written about this many times. If you don’t know what you have been doing, from the first day to the last workout, then it becomes very hard to see the growth or know if your latest workout was your best. Just like in the world we live today data in power. The more you know about your performance the better you can be for it. And you can log plenty of data: amount of sleep, workout duration, type of workout, foods consumed, current weight. All of these things can come into plan on how you perform. And if you don’t have time to keep a journal, read my next item.
  • Bio Feedback: I’m a fan and a retractor of Fitbits and other fitness bands. Why? They are great in that you can look at your stats for your workout and your day (see items above from journal) and compare to your previous workouts, you can see how well you slept and how long (these are different things) you slept, you have a readout of heart rate including resting heart rate and historical heart rates. These are all metrics that impact performance. Unfortunately  people can end up using these numbers as a way to reward themselves not fully understanding the impact of the reward. Constantly rewarding yourself by increasing your dessert intake or drink intake probably is adding that weight you are trying to lose instead of aiding in the removal of that weight. There are also newer fitness bands that are better at giving you bio feedback and will let you know what type of workout you should focus on that day: high intensity or mid to lower intensity. These type of bands take the guess work out of it. You go into your workout pretty much knowing how you will probably feel during that workout. A great tool to help you from preventing over training which can be just as bad as not training. 
  • Perceived rate of exertion: PRE, or perceived rate of exertion is a scale that allows you to assign a number to how you are feeling while you are working out. As an example, 10 is max effort and comes with the feeling of it being impossible to continue, completely out of breath, and unable to talk. 6-7 on the scale is for vigorous activity where you feel you are on the verge of becoming uncomfortable, short of breath and can speak only a sentence. On the low end, 2-3 is light activity where you feel you can go on for hours and it’s easy to carry on a conversation. Understanding where you fall in the chart when working out should help you understand your goals for that workout. Feeling really good you might be able to live in the 10 zone for 30 seconds if the workout that day is meant to be intense but take that same workout another day you may need to be in the 6-7 zone due to lack of sleep or recovery time

 

finally

The more you listen to your body, the more data presented in the right way to understand your body should result in you staying motivated, seeing the results you are working hard to achieve. Gone should be the days of a cement head attitude of ‘balls to the wall’ or ‘take no prisoners’. Now don’t conflate this with a softening attitude on my part. Do you need to work hard? Absolutely! Just what ‘hard’ is in actual measurable work can change.

Hard work is can vary day to day. It’s no different than if you go for a 2 hour run and 90 minutes in you start to have pain in your knees. You would be stupid and irresponsible to yourself to continue. How is that different than running at 8 mph when your form has gone to sh*t just because your last interval training was at 8 mph. Take down the intensity a bit for that workout. You may be able to increase the intensity next workout or the one after if your body conditions are right. Rested, had a great sleep, ate the right foods and enough of the right foods probably got you there. Your best is not always better than the last time.

Train hard but train smart! You’ll be training longer and you’ll feel better for it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

it is what’s behind us

Don’t neglect what we don’t see.

We use it a lot. Every day, all day. And when it’s injured we realize the limitations we have without it.

I want to use this post to talk about muscles of the back and also to give you a picture of how these muscles work so you can have a better understanding and maybe that will help you the next time you work your back.

The main one

We have back muscles that start at the lower spine and run up, right up to the base of the skull. This group of muscles is called the Erector spinae. You can imagine them as large ropes running side by side in parallel with the spine, more or less. As they travel up the back they connect to the ribs and upper vertebrae. They are responsible for spinal extension (moving your back backwards like a big stretch), lateral flexion (moving the back to either side). These muscles help make up our core and if they are strong will add to performance increases and provide stability for the spine when needed.

Knowing that the erector spinae starts at the bottom of our spine and all the way up to the base of the skull we need various exercises to work the whole length of the muscles. Let’s look at what exercises we can do:

Spidermans: This exercise will place focus on the lower part of the back. Lying on the ground on your stomach, hands under your chin, raise your shoulders about 2 inches off of the ground. Focus on the lower back when doing this and try to feel the contraction. It’s a simple exercise but difficult to do only hitting the back muscles.  I would recommend that you have someone knowledgeable show you and work with you on this exercise.

Bird dog: This works more the length of the erector spinae since the muscle is used to stabilize you while carrying out the exercise. Get down on all fours hands at shoulder width and knees in line with yoru hands. Raise your right hand extending your right arm straight out in front of you.  Then slowly raise your left leg out behind you. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and repeat on other side. Be sure to actively engage your core when doing this.

Stability ball back crunches: Start by lying on the stability ball with your stomach and chest. Your legs should be fully straight out behind you on the floor. Having your hands behind your head, contract your core and glutes. Slowly raise your upper body upwards for a movement of 2 – 3 inches. Hold at the top for 3 – 5 seconds holding onto that contraction. Lower yourself down until your chest touches the ball. Repeat about 8 to 12 times.

Close grip cable rows/ band pulls: Having your hands close together targets the centre of your back and being seated it also targets the middle area of the back. Think about half way between your waist and the bottom of your skull. I’m going to explain this one using the bands. Sitting on the floor legs straight out in front of you, having one end of the band against the bottom of your feet, with arms straight out holding onto the band, pull back until hands are close to your stomach. Hold for a second or two then straighten out your arms. Try to do this for 8 to 10 repetitions.

Now the next muscle I’m going to cover is technically a muscle of the shoulder girdle but I think we all look at it as a muscle of the back. This is the muscle that when developed gives you the highly sought after V look. Pop a couple of big shoulders on top of this V and you’ll be turning sideways just to get through the door. You got it, the latissimus dorsi. It starts at vertebrae T6 – S5 (around the centre of your spine) and inserts at our humerus bone. Makes sense right? If pull ups builds this muscle, the movement of the arms when we do pull ups is how the muscle contracts. The lats aid in pulling and lifting type movements and provide support to the shoulders.

What can we do to build the lats, keeping them strong? Good question.

Pull Ups: An awesome exercise over all since it’s a body weight exercise and also works more than just the lats. You can use a wide grip or a narrow grip target different areas of the muscles of our back. I think we all know what a pull up is so instead of explaining, I’m going to give some tips. If you cannot do a pull up because you can’t yet pull up your body weight, don’t worry. If you work out at a gym you are probably lucky enough that they have a machine where you can rest your knees and adjust how much weight is removed from your body when doing the pull up. Yeah that sounds strange doesn’t it. In a sense instead of adding weight we are removing weight so if you weight 200lbs, you can adjust the machine so the weight you are moving is 140lbs as an example.

A way to do this if you aren’t working out at a gym is to use a chair or something else to put your feet on (the tops of your feet will be on the chair, not the bottom). This allows you to push with your legs when doing the pull up. Please be careful if you do your pull ups this way! Be safe!

Pull Downs: The inverse of pull ups. You will need a machine for this but if you have one, use it. The nice thing about pull downs is you can adjust the weight. When doing this try not to sway your torso. Keep strict form.

Reclined Pull Over: Lying on the floor on your back, legs bent and feet on the floor, straighten your arms so they are stretched over your head like you are giving two high fives. Using a barbell or a dumbbell in each hand engage your core as you raise the weight up until your arms are perpendicular to the floor. As you raise the weights, keep a small bend in the arms. Hold at the top for a few seconds then slowly lower. Do this for 8 to12 repetitions.

The rest

There are other muscles that benefit from these exercises such as our trapezius, teres minor/major, posterior deltoid muscles, etc. I’ll probably get to some of these muscles in another post more specifically to do with their respective area such as the shoulder or rotator cuff.

Try these exercises out if you haven’t already. Build a solid back and rock that V like it’s no one business. Your back will thank you for it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

the view can be different from here

…and I like the view

Ninety, one hundred and eighty. Degrees of angles. Degrees of angles we normally train in. Squats, bench presses, pushups. Most times when we do these exercises we do them at a square angle to the ground. We do our exercises this way because we need gravity to provide the needed resistance. So what’s the issue? Doing the same thing over and over, the same way. Repetition.

Resistance

Over time our bodies will adapt to a load being applied at the same angle relative to the muscles that are being worked. As our muscles adapt the less they respond to the load and the lessening of the benefits  we get from working out are realized.

Another benefit of incorporating angles into our workouts is it can target different areas of the muscles being worked. Also, it can help to maintain strict form when working out, preventing us from cheating an exercise.

How to

Lets look at the bench press or the pushup. Most times when doing this exercise our body is mostly parallel to the ground albeit on a bench when doing bench presses or the slight angle we realize when doing pushups. What if we raised our feet when doing pushups, or elevated the back part of the bench that supports our upper body when doing bench presses? This now changes the load from being distributed to the middle of our chest to more of the upper area of our chest. This also changes up what our muscles have been used to. I guarantee if you have been doing either of these exercises in the traditional sense and change it to incorporating this angle you will feel the difference. Now do the same but use a decline. With respect to bench presses, you will need a decline bench. For pushups, you can do your pushups by having your hands on a bench, couch, or anything that is about 12 to 16 inches above the ground, keeping your toes on the ground. Be sure that whatever you are using that it is stable and safe.

The same principle can be applied when carrying out dumbbell chest flies. Doing this exercise on an incline or decline angle will put the load onto the upper and lower chest area respectively.

Using an incline bench you can apply the same principle to when you do dumbbell bicep curls. With your back against the inclined bench, let your arms hang down, holding the dumbbells. Having your body at this angle, no longer parallel with your arms will make it almost impossible to cheat when doing dumbbell curls. If you try this, you will notice that the amount of weight you use will probably be less than when doing dumbbell curls the traditional way.

The traditional lat pull down, pulling down the horizontal bar directly from above you can also be modified to incorporate a new angle. If you pull down having your upper body on an 80 degree angle you will still be hitting the lats but you will also target more of upper/middle back area, similar to a seated cable row. Be careful doing this one that you don’t end up swinging the body because of the load being too high. This is not what you want to do, and could lead to injury.

Not everything

Not all exercises can be done this way, especially when exercising safely. These are just a few options to help you keep realizing the benefits from resistance training, another way to ‘shock’ the muscles.

It’s beneficial to you to incorporate different things in your workout routine. Altimately you are the one that benefits, the one that grows.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

all the blood that I would bleed

It’s about embracing the pain

You’re tired of sucking wind either when working out or doing anything mildly strenuous. You want to be able to make it through a workout, push yourself hard, and make a quick, or quicker than normal recovery.

You need to work out your cardio respiratory system. Time to build the heart and lungs. It can be tough but the payoff is tremendous.

Benefits

Stated earlier, the benefits can be realized when doing normal day to day activities such as going up a couple flights of stairs, having to walk a longer than normal distance, or something unexpected such as having to push your vehicle out of the deep snow (hopefully you haven’t had to do this).

The benefit of having a strong cardio respiratory system will lead to quicker recovery when working out. What I mean is it will take less time for your heart rate to return to normal. So you can push yourself doing interval training and have your heart rate lower quicker as you get ready for your next intense interval. So instead of being out of breath, heart racing when you are getting ready for the next interval, you will feel stronger and ready to go. That’s a nice feeling.

Another benefit is an increase in performance. Why? I’ll explain what the cardio respiratory system does and I think you understand how performance will benefit.

The what

The cardiovascular and respiratory systems work together to deliver oxygen and nutrients to body tissue, such as muscle. It is also responsible for removing waste. Our respiratory system takes in oxygen providing it to our blood, and it removes carbon dioxide, the waste product. Our cardiovascular system is what moves the oxygenated blood to our tissues, delivering oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.

More oxygen will be delivered and more carbon dioxide will be removed as efficiency increases. One large influence on this is what is called stroke volume. Stroke volume is the amount of blood that can be pumped in one beat of our heart (specifically the left ventricle). The typical amount of blood that is pumped in one beat is 70 milliliters. As we become fitter the ventricle becomes larger and stronger, able to move more blood and contract with more force. When resting, our body required a specific amount of blood to be circulated. For someone who is fit, and has a larger than normal stroke volume, the heart does not have to work as hard to deliver the amount of blood needed.

When we are training the effect of having a larger stroke volume means more blood is pumped to our tissue than someone with a smaller stroke volume. I’ll try to explain it this way. You have two people filling a balloon with air, one with a pump that with each stroke delivered 1 litre of air, and the other person, the fit person, had a pump that delivered 2 litres of air with each stroke. The balloons are the same size, requiring 100 litres of air to fill it. The amount of strokes per minute are the same for both people, 20 strokes (think of heart rate, each person’s heart rate being 185 bpm’s when working out). The average person, who can only pump 1 litre per stroke requires 5 minutes to fill the balloon (20 strokes/minute x 1 litre = 20 litres per minute).  The healthy person requires only 2.5 minutes to fill the balloon. The healthier person can move more air per stroke requiring less work overall. Apply this to the heart and it makes sense why someone with a larger stroke volume, a healthier cardio vascular system, can accomplish more work at the same heart rate than the person with the smaller stroke volume. Does that make sense? Maybe? If it doesn’t, or it seems convoluted, let me know.

The what

So what do we do to improve our cardio respiratory system? Cardio training. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that you have to start running. Cardio training does not have to include running, or biking, or elliptical machines. Now you like me, right? I’m going to change that. With what I tell you next, you may end up hating me. I’m ok with that because I know you will benefit from what I’m going to tell you, and that is my goal. I’m doing this for you, not me.

If you follow my blog, have read some or most of the articles you probably know I’m a fan of intense workouts. Slow and easy is not for me. I’m not going to get into why because I have done that in other posts. What I’m going to do is layout some options you can use to help you become better, stronger.

Intervals: Interval training can be a number of things. Tabata is a good example of interval training. 20 seconds of full out work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes total (or longer if you love pain). 60 seconds of 90% intensity followed by 30 seconds of 60% intensity work. Another example could be 90 seconds of 90% work followed by 30 seconds of 60% work. There are so many benefits to interval training. Better utilization of glucose (provides energy to our body), higher resting metabolism, growth in our stroke volume (yeah!), etc.

Intervals can vary quite a bit. From the 20 second work 10 second rest of tabata to 3 minutes work, 1 minute rest of another interval method. The work you do can be anything as long as you hit the targets. Jump squats, burpees, sprints, mountain climbers, clean and press, etc. If you want to run on a treadmill, go for it. It’s up to you.

Other options

Are there benefits to activities such as going for bike rides, quick walking, jogging or none interval activities? Sure. Different benefits but they are there. We can’t do interval training all the time because it is taxing to our body, and our body needs time to recover from these hard workouts. Throwing in a non-interval training activity is a great way to add variety to our workouts and there may also be other benefits realized. Some people when they run can turn their mind to a place that brings them peace and relaxation, and happiness. There’s a lot to be said about benefits of this. Peace of mind is a beautiful thing. Exercising should not be totally exclusive to one activity. That’s how we end up with imbalances and sometimes boredom.

It makes sense.

Add interval training to your workout. Start off easy, one session per week. Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself. Do this for a month and I know you will be pleased with the results. Kill it. Have no mercy when you train and you will ultimately be triumphant.

It may not feel that way, but trust me. You are awesome and you will kill it. You always do.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Put me back on the line

Give me more of a reason

I look at things that happen in my life, things that I see, questions asked, people’s experiences and I look at these things and see if I can find a lesson in them. Maybe find something that I can pass onto you that helps you with your training and helps you reach your goals quicker.

That has always been the purpose of my blog, to help. To help you grow in the part of your life that is fitness. If only one article has done that, than I have succeeded.

A new one

I recently revisited a client of mine that I started training about eight weeks ago. This client of mine is very goal oriented and had a specific goal she wanted to achieve – to better her game by increasing her strength and power.

I liked the idea of training this person because her goal was very specific and I felt it would be very challenging. She is a very athletic person, I have known her for probably the last 4 years and already knew her work ethic. This is partly why I had no issue leaving her on her own to train. I have said in previous posts that I don’t feel that everyone needs a personal trainer for all their workouts. Some people? Yes. But not everyone.

The purpose of this visit was to reevaluate her performance and to touch base as to the next 4 weeks. I was anxious to see what the results would be.

No hiding

I said I was anxious but I was also nervous. There is no hiding from the results, or massaging the results to provide a different outcome than what it is. The numbers don’t lie. It can be like shining a bright light onto you. Success or failure, there can be only one outcome.

Success! The reevaluation showed lots of positive gains. Vertical jump increase, drastic increase in leg strength, increase in chest strength and so on. The program I had put together worked and I am seeing the results.

But the results were not evident to my client, until we measured them.

Tracking

It wasn’t until I tested my client again and compared the results to the initial test that she realized that she was making gains. Part of this is due to a good part of the program designed around exercises using body weight making it difficult to see increase in strength since no dumbbells or barbells were being used.

At the end of the evaluation my client was so pumped seeing the increase in strength. Could she of seen this earlier? Absolutely.

Journal. That’s it. Recording each workout on paper. Capturing what you have accomplished. It’s also a good way to capture your general feeling that day; tired, energized, strong, weak. A journal can be a great way to see your progress as weeks go on and to keep yourself motivated in reaching your goal, or goals. I think we underestimate the value of capturing each workout and the impact it can have.

The payoff

If my client had a journal, she probably wouldn’t have been as surprised at the results. It was the action of me reevaluating her that showed the gains made, but it didn’t have to be. The gains were there, just not being measured. Record everything, from day one.

How do you measure your progress if you don’t know where you came from?

Yours in health,

Darryl

…more frequent than to fail

Easy to understand time, that dark process.

It’s something I did today. Something I have been doing over the last 4 weeks. I know about this, I’ve known about this.

It’s really simple. But knowledge is fleeting and we are not aware of it, or pay it no attention. Time to make a change, time to take control.

Do as I say

I’m not the best when it comes to doing the things I should be doing. I know the things that need to be done but don’t always listen to myself, I don’t always listen to reason. As an example I’m one of those people who tell others that when they are injured they need to take care of the injury, rest, ice, compression and so on. I’m not the best at doing those things myself. I usually try to ignore the injury and continue in what I am doing. I know, not the smartest thing to do. But I have my reasons, or motivation.

I’m someone who enjoys the feeling of getting my ass kicked and finishing my workout drained, tired. Not really a good excuse is it. Not the best thing to do, but like I said, I don’t always follow my advice. I should.

Kill it

Fuel. We overlook the importance of how we fuel our body and when we  fuel  our body. Don’t! Let me lay  it out to you. Do you want to feel like crap during your next workout, or do you want to feel like you can keep going, and going strong?

The latter, right? Why not? It feels awful when working out and you are drained, you don’t know how you will make it through the next 60 minutes, or half hour. Time to change that. Time to kill it.

Just like a car, a furnace, stove or anything that moves, we require fuel to perform. And optimally we want the best fuel there and ready to feed our muscles. How do we do that? A couple of things can be done.

2 hours

2 hours before you work out be sure to consume a meal high in complex carbs so your body’s fuel tank has some fuel in it to provide the necessary energy for your workout. But that’s not it. 20 minutes before you start your workout consume something high in carbs. You can try a pre workout energy mix, or something else like figs, dates, or dried cranberries. The idea is to get something sweet into your body, but also something beneficial. Don’t think you can down a soda or eat a brownie and get the same results. You won’t.

The testing

For the last 4 weeks I have been consuming a pre-work out drink to see if it’s something that works or just a waste of time. Should it work? Absolutely, the pre-work out drink provides the fuel my body, or our body needs for the workout. The workout has been a workout that goes for 90 minutes and I’ve been doing this workout for a few years now. I have a baseline to compare it too and so far the results have been good. I feel better during the workout, not so fatigued or drained. At the end of the workout I’m tired, but I’m not dead. Am I working just as hard? Yes.

That should be no surprise. The body requires fuel and if you don’t fuel it, it can’t perform to it’s best level.

Now this test of mine is in no sense all that scientific. No beakers have been harmed. But, it does go along with the principle that our bodies need fuel to perform and to perform well we need to have the right fuel at the right time.

Change

Try it. Try it with what works for you. It’s science, and you will feel the difference. I almost guarantee it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

the stars are alive, and they are in my reach

the flame flickers, reaching, grasping, waiting with it’s hand outreached.

I consider this the third post in my series regarding adding strength and muscle.  The first post was the challenge that I’m sure you accepted. The second post deals with the progression made so far. This post I will talk about things that you may be doing that in affect could be sabotaging your progress. Will there be more posts in this series? Yeah, I think so. Stay tuned.

It’s what we do

Restless. You want to add the poundage of muscle onto your frame, but you are that type that when in a gym, or anywhere working out you cannot just ‘sit there’ counting the seconds or minutes. You try to take a 2 minute break between sets but no matter what you try you can’t. You find yourself waiting no more than 30 seconds, or maybe a minute. The fact is you won’t be adding the muscle you would like to unless you take that rest. Try it yourself. Look at how much weight you use when resting for 2 to 3 minutes compared to how much weight you currently use between sets. I bet you that with the longer rest you are using more weight each set. Why? Because the body needs that length of time to replenish its energy stores used to lift weight. Rest, slow down, and relax. Enjoy it. You’ll be glad you did.

Minimalist. Are you eating enough or are you eating the same you always have. We know where that has gotten you, nowhere when it comes to adding muscle. If we don’t have the protein intake needed for our muscles to grow, they won’t! Personally, I’d rather be on the side of too many calories than not enough. Once you hit that point of knowing you are consuming too much, you can always scale back.

Enjoy it. I always think this sounds funny when I say it, I love food and I love eating. If you do too, enjoy it more and get in those quality calories. If you can, keep track of the amount of protein you are consuming daily. Try to spread it around too. Don’t try to consume larger amounts of protein in fewer meals. Have that protein always available for your body to use it.

Stress ball. Relax. Yeah, I know. It’s easy for me to say, isn’t it. But it’s true. Stress can be good, it helps us react to threatening situations but if stress isn’t dealt with properly it can be detrimental to our weight gains but worse, it can be detrimental to our overall health. As westerners I think we missed the boat on how to deal with stress, and how to relax. I don’t think meditation gets the respect it should. Hopefully it will now that the technology exists to show the benefits of meditation.

We all need more. Sleep. That’s it. As simple as the word, it really is that simple. You will want to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night so the body can rebuild, become stronger, become bigger. That is the goal, right? If you aren’t sleeping, why is that? Do you know? Can you do something about it, maybe the previous point can help? Getting the proper amount of sleep can be tough, I know this because I am there myself. What can you do? Some say if you are going to eat before bed time, eat foods high in protein (a plus) and fat because this will regulate your blood sugar and prevent a rise in blood sugar possibly impacting your ability to fall asleep. When lying there in bed, breathe in through the nose and exhale out of your mouth, nice and slowly. This rhythmic breathing can help to relax the mind and body.

By no means do I pretend to have the solution. I wish I did.

Playback. Are you keep a log of what it is you are doing? No, why not! How is it you know what you did last week, or what you did the last workout? Are you resting the proper amount of time between sets, are you lifting more that the last workout, do you know what you did yesterday? Besides being a great motivator, a log helps you get the most out of your workouts be knowing what you did previously, and letting you know what it is you need to do today. Recording what it is you are doing, number of sets, number of reps, rest, amount  of weight helps you stick to the program and will help you get there quicker. It also allows you to review what you did against what you were supposed to do and make changes if necessary.

Also, a few weeks in you can look back at week one of your log and marvel at the progress you have made.

I wish

I don’t have the pill, I don’t have the magical answers. I wish I did. I can only provide recommendations to you to help you achieve your goal. There is one thing I will say that I think is probably the most important. If you take only one thing away from reading this, take this: Believe in yourself. Know that you can do it. Why? Because you can! I know you and I know what you can do, and you can do this. Don’t ever doubt it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず。

Koketsu ni irazunba koji wo ezu

No pain no gain. Words to live by, right? It depends. It depends when the pain happens. We need to experience pain from working out but that pain needs to be later, not during the workout. If we aren’t experiencing pain after the workout, we have not challenged our muscles significantly for them to grow and become stronger. What about during the workout?

Injury

Experiencing pain during a workout is your body telling you to stop, right away. The pain you are experiencing is because you have injured yourself and if you continue to work out, you will only aggravate the injury, possibly making it worse. Stop and treat the injury.

Understanding what is it

Some people make the mistake of taking being uncomfortable as being in pain, and tend to stop because of being uncomfortable. I’ve written a few posts on the power of the mind, and this is a case of the person become defeated by the mind. Being uncomfortable is not fun, most people prefer not to be. But we need to be uncomfortable to realize any gains from working out. You need to learn the difference between being in pain, a pain that is muscular or skeletal and being uncomfortable. If you never do, you will never experience the gains you are looking for.

What kinds

Muscular pain can be a pulled muscle, or worse a torn muscle. You can also experience injury of the connective tissues, the tendons. With these types of injuries you should follow the rule of RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest. Stop what you are doing and get yourself somewhere comfortable. Relax and enjoy some downtime. Ice. Put ice on for 15 minutes and then remove for 15 minutes. Do this until swelling has gown down. You can make your own flexible ice pack by putting water and rubbing alcohol into a zip lock bag and throw it in the freezer. Or you can use a bag of frozen veggies. Compression. Use a tensor bandage to add compression. Elevation. Keep the injured area higher than the heart. If after a while you still have swelling, or are concerned about the injury, see a doctor.

Injuries to our skeletal system such as a fracture, break, or sprang should also follow the RICE rule. Again, if swelling remains or you are concerned about the injury, see a doctor.

If you have experienced any of these injuries you need to let that area recover. Give it the rest it needs. Coming back and training that area too soon can lead to extending the time to recover to 100%, or could lead to a more serious injury of the area. If you are someone who needs to workout, see what options you have that remove that injured area from the workout. See a personal trainer for ideas if you need to. An injured foot is a great time to train the core. An injured arm could be a great time to train the legs. Be flexible in ideas as to what you can do. But give the injured area rest.

Smart

Training smart. I always say it. Training smart will result in getting more out of your workout, and lessening any chronic aches and pains you may experience down the road. Train hard, hard enough that you do feel the muscles aching the following day, or two. That’s the pain you are striving to capture.

Listen to your body. Respect your body. Love your body and it will love you back.

Yours in health,

Darryl