Here’s a funny story.
Today my legs are so fu@ing sore I can’t walk.
You’d think that being a personal trainer for over 12 years would mean I’m used to this feeling. Even conditioned enough to avoid it altogether now …
Here’s the thing though, after a recent run of bad health, I hadn’t exercised for a month. Now that doesn’t sound like a long time, I know, but as I’ve found, it’s long enough to seriously impact my level of physical conditioning …
So, after my team turned up to work on Monday, bursting with excitement to share what they’d learnt over the weekend whilst attending a new training course, we all got stuck into our afternoon team training session.
Then this happened …
For me, it was the first workout since being off work sick. We went through a series of warm ups before performing some very advanced stretching and mobility movements. Part of that warm up was a large number of standing calf raises to prepare for a specific stretch.
I had not done this specific movement for over two years since my knee reconstruction as a result of a soccer injury.
And the rest is history!
Today is Wednesday, and 72 hours post workout I still can’t get my heels to touch the ground or walk in a manner symbolizing a human. It feels like some sadistic prick snuck into my room overnight and replaced my calf muscles with two pieces of steel!
Let’s just say it’s a little uncomfortable.
What’s more concerning is that recently whilst catching up with some friends of mine who are also personal trainers we discussed the perks of working in the fitness industry among other things.
I was shocked to find that the general consensus among the industry still remained that to train someone new to the gym who wants to lose weight, was to totally smash them.
Meaning, to work them so hard it made them hurt – everywhere!
Now keep in mind two things:
- I’m a personal trainer used to the feeling of muscle soreness post workout
- Luckily, my intense pain and stiffness is only limited to my calf muscles
I can’t even begin to imagine what this would feel like throughout my entire body. Particularly to an individual who has not exercised for a while, or ever at all. It would be terrifying.
First thing I’ll say about this is that it’s not very practical. I can hardly hobble around my little apartment, let alone get outside and go to work!
I couldn’t even walk my son to daycare.
Second, it’s not necessary! Unless you plan on becoming a professional bodybuilder there’s really no reason to cause this much damage to your body.
Now the gym buffs out there will claim that I’ve grown soft in my old age and I should shut up, or man up.
Sure there are some benefits to metabolic damage (pain in the muscles) after exercise. The muscles tend to grow, and also, the consequent repair can stimulate your metabolism. The theory is that you then burn more energy during the subsequent repairing of muscle tissue.
But I can guarantee you this … any additional fat loss caused by the stimulation to your metabolism is considerably less than the energy you could have expended attending the gym the following days.
Sitting on the couch on your arse in pain is not going to come close!
So are there any benefits to the pain post workout then?
To a certain degree there is. Each time you experience discomfort your body will adapt. Each adaptation will allow you to push yourself a little harder the next time.
It’s these adaptations that cause tissue remodelling and strength increases in your muscles.
Of course that’s beneficial.
But the thing is you must approach exercise with caution. Train to your limits, not your friend or trainers … The secret is progressive overload. By this I mean starting at a manageable level and then slowly and steadily increasing the volume and intensity of your workouts to challenge your body.
You can quote me here … If you are new to the gym, or exercise in general, you do NOT need to destroy yourself to a level where you either puke, or can’t walk the following days.
Save it for the guys and girls who are conditioned to this level of debauchery.
Enjoy your summer training folks.