The catch 22 of fitness!!
You’ve just walked into the gym, hit some squats-maybe some deadlifts…you’ve done some high rep accessory work and then finished with a circuit of some description which has ruined your ability to walk back out of the gym…you then wake up the next day (or the day after the day after) and you find just walking down the stairs is giving you pain and discomfort never experienced by anyone EVER!! We’ve all done it, but when this been happening 5-6 times per week for an extended period of time do you wonder whether you may be caught in the vicious DOMS cycle.
DOMS is short for delayed onset muscle soreness- this is when the body is exposed to a new stimulus or has been pushed through an intensity it isn’t adapted to yet and as a result micro damage to the muscle fibres occurs. The body tries to adapt to this by becoming stronger, however this is where people start to get embroiled in the constant chase for DOMS and the true pursuit of fitness is lost.
This also leads to another point about overtraining…if you’re pushing that hard every session that you physically cannot recover effectively, then you are running the risk of overtraining. Overtraining in the most simple terms is when the body starts to become rundown from activity and performance starts to deteriorate. This can also have health implications due to the immune system becoming overtaxed.
So this is where the catch 22 becomes apparent…you train so hard, so regularly, that your actual ability to function away from the gym is massively impaired…yet to combat this you go to the gym and train hard. Eventually you will be affected by this – usually with injury, illness or your inability to perform at your best (in a sporting arena or work) due to the constant state of stiffness and pain.
To overcome this problem you need to look no further than Olympic athletes!! They periodise their training in order to peak for competition at the right time, and also maintain the longevity of their careers. Having DOMS the week of your event and struggling to even sit on the toilet all week isn’t going to win you any medals.
Ok so we’re not all Olympic athletes, but we can take a leaf out of their book and learn to schedule more recovery time into each week or each month if that seems easier. Below are a few ways to do this, and will not only break the DOMS cycle but also mean that for a good proportion of each week or month you will be reaping the benefits of all of your hard training.
1-have one day per week where you focus on mobility and movement. Try to maximise the movement in your joints and just enjoy the freedom it brings. Yoga, animal flow or just a basic stretching routine all work well here!
2-similar to above apart from you could use just low level cardio type exercises to get the body working and pushing the toxins built up from your other sessions out of the muscles. Swimming, rowing, walking or biking can work to good effect.
3-have a de-load week every 4th-6th week. A de-load week is where the intensity and volume of your workouts are brought down by a decent percentage, and allows the body to adapt to the work you have put in on the previous weeks. Great for serious gym goers!
4-get a massage. This will help to relax you, break up tight muscle tissue and speed recovery!
5-LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you feel tired, stiff and ill then rest and recover! If you must do something then active recovery as in 1 and 2 is the way!
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