I have to tell you something.
Sore muscles don’t necessarily mean you had a super productive, big time results changing workout.
Not-sore muscles don’t necessarily mean you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough.
Now that that’s out of the way:
It’s not big secret that I am a high intensity exercise kind of lady. I have done all sixty days of the Insanity Workout twice. I work out at a Crossfit gym (the best crossfit gym EVER, by the way.) Power lifting and olympic lifting are both my JAM. I love a heavy kettlebell. I will try to PR every time I go for a heavy lift (not that I’ll always make it!). I am in the last two weeks of The Blissful Chef’s Personalized 16 week program, which has challenged me with workouts that use supersets, that are longer than I am used to, and that have introduced me to a bevy of exercises that I had never even come close to trying before. I am committed. I like to work hard. And really, I hardly ever get sore.
When I first started high intensity training, crossfitting, and working on other kinds of lifting, I got sore all the time. I got sore because I was using muscles I had never before used and because I was asking my body to do something that it wasn’t used to doing. That is completely typical, makes perfect sense, and gradually, it stopped happening.
The moment my workouts stopped destroying me, I got scared. Was I no longer working hard? Was I phoning it in? Should I go heavier? Should I go faster? Was I just plain lazy?
No. No, no, no, and no.
Although I continue to participate in a variety of exercises (lifting barbells and dumbbells in a variety of ways, bodyweight exercise, swimming, running, hiking, biking, and yoga) my body is quite accustomed to the movements I tend to do. When I increase my weights, or reps, or my speed, I tend to be sore right after a workout, but rarely into the next day. That is both because my body has adapted well, and because I keep my pre-and post workout nutrition in check.
Every single person’s body is different, but there are some things about muscle recovery that science just supports.
1) Minerals are crucial for a host of bodily functions, including metabolism, tissue structuring, and hormonal support. (So, eating a plant-rich diet that is extremely full of vitamins and minerals gives me a huge leg up on recovery)
2) Eating (or drinking) both essential amino acids and quick burning carbohydrate within an hour after physical activity and immediately before exercise has been shown to significantly stimulate muscle synthesis. (I eat both before and after exercise, making sure to have a balance of quick burning carbs- in my case 9 times out of 10 this is banana- and solid protein- usually Vega Sport)
3) No matter what your exercise plan is, regular ingestion of snacks and meals providing both carbs and protein helps to promote recovery and replenishment of muscle glycogen. (I do not fuck around with my eating, and slay wholesome food very, very regularly. Like every 2-3 hours regularly)
4) BCAAs – which are found in the protein powder I mentioned above- are amino acids which cannot be made by your body and must be eaten. BCAAs help to transition your body from a catabolic (breaking down muscle) to anabolic (building muscle) stage after exercise.
Proper fuel makes an extreme difference in muscle recovery. Eating is an intrinsic part of muscle recovery. These are facts!
In short, your tool kit for regular ass-kicking in the gym and out is as follows:
1) consistency about activity, putting the time in to build muscles up. Commitment to working past the time of all-the-time-soreness, and into a time where your muscles come to expect to be shredded.
2) hydration, because muscles need water (just like the rest of your body).
3) adequate rest and recovery time (for me, once every 2-3 days I take a rest day, I sleep a MINIMUM of eight hours a night)
4) Pre-workout quick burning carbs (banana, dates, 100% juice, natural pre-workout products)
5) For longer workouts, sustained carb intake- more about that here
6) Post workout nutrition that proves you take your body seriously. My smoothie today was a great example of this: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup berries, 1 banana, and 1 scoop of Vega Sport recovery.
To avoid sore muscles: Don’t put off eating post exercise, don’t exercise infrequently, don’t skip rest days, don’t shirk sleep, don’t forget your vegetables. Eat your (vegan) proteins!
Now get out there and crush it!
2) Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. (2006). Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. Journal of Nutrition.136(1 Suppl):269S-73S. – See more at: http://vegasport.com/product/performance-protein/#sthash.z0MbywR2.dpuf
I get asked about my workouts all the time, and I find it really flattering. Certainly, I am a fit person (and I know this), but it’s wonderful to know that people, like, notice. Anyway.
I have been thinking about posting my workouts for quite some time, but have hesitated because I have a little fear. My workouts are just that-mine. I want to talk about them because they’re super fun and exciting to me, but I am not telling you to do any single little bit of what I’ve done. I am not a personal trainer, and mostly, I just do what my body says to do. Some days that is lifting heavy, some days it’s a fair amount of cardio, and for goodness sakes, at least once (but likely twice) a week, I chill. I write and I read and I listen to podcasts and I think about things that aren’t exercise. It’s good for the soul.
Since I come from a background of exercise addiction and compulsive overexercise, I have rules for myself, and those rules feel great. I think they are reasonable rules for most people to follow. They are:
1) I don’t exercise more than an hour a day
2) I don’t exercise more than three days in a row
3) I don’t lie or skip things I have committed to to get a workout in.
4) I don’t schedule my life around exercise. I schedule exercise around my life.
These rules exclude walking and bicycle commuting, although I will say that if I know I am going to have a bike-heavy day, I am likely to take a day off of formal work. How’s that for progress!
SO. At this point in time, I don’t train for endurance events (although my rules are totally flexible and this could change), and I exclusively exercise to feel rad in my body, not because of something I ate, and not as punishment. Please read about my workouts with curiosity, but not a measuring stick. You do you! You innately know way better what is going to work for your body than me- I’m sure of it.
Monday: Formal Crossfit workout. Front squat 3 rep max ( I worked up to 120) and than a cardio burst: three rounds for time of thirty 20 lb. slamballs, twenty burpees, and ten front squats at 75 lbs. This workout took me forever (like 20 minutes, which is like six years in crossfit terms) and was HARD. I drank my post-workout Vega smoothie in one giant gulp.
Tuesday: Tuesday’s workout was really fun. My friend and client, Brian, was interested in learning a few things about lifting weights, so I accompanied him to a 24 hour fitness to show him the basics. First of all, normal gyms, WOAH. SO MANY MACHINES. I looked them over and was like “well Brian, I can’t tell you anything about these. Sorry!” Then we settled into a rusty squat rack in the corner and went over deadlifts, cleans, jerks, snatches, thrusters, and squats. God, why does every lift have to sound so dirty?
I did all this with just the bar as weight, but we lifted them a fair amount of times as practice. Does this count as that whole “lift light for many reps” thing? I’ve never done that before.
After lifting we did a quick cardio burst, one that he made up and was terrible (I seemed to have blocked it out, but I know it was like 10 minutes.) and one that I made up. Mine was a 21-15-9 rep scheme of 30 lb. dumbbell snatches, burpees and sit ups.
Wednesday: Rest day! I did end up walking around a lake near my house (about three miles) while listening to a podcast I like, though.
Thursday: Five mile run around said lake and my neighborhood.
Friday: More rest! Both Wednesday and Friday were really work heavy, and I was super stoked to just give myself space to not try to fit exercise in. I know many people struggle with exercising MORE, and I totally support finding moments for sweat when you can never seem to get it together. I am the total opposite, though. Rest days are perfect for me, but they never come naturally.
Saturday: 2 mile run to the farmers market with stair sprints in the middle. Kett and I then went on a date in San Francisco that ended up being a five or six mile jaunt around the city. It was lovely.
Sunday: 1 mile swim! This is a big deal for me. When I was a kid I almost drowned in the ocean, and have since been basically terrified of water. Last summer I had a job that gave me a residence with a pool for about a month and I decided to make it my business to learn how to swim laps. Turns out, I love swimming. My goal last year was to swim a mile, but I never quite made it. I came back to Oakland and had “swim” on my to-do list for roughly a year. On Sunday I decided I was tired of the dialogue in my head around it (I didn’t know where a public pool was, I was worried everyone would be super good and mow me down, I didn’t know proper pool etiquette) and I just went for it. I swam a mile (though it did take FOREVER, I probably broke my own time limit rule) and the stuff I didn’t know I picked up as I went. Although I havn’t swam in a year (and I barely did before that) I was better, stronger, and faster than last year. I’m going to go ahead and attribute that to weight lifting and core strength.
My goal next week is to lift more. Lots of cardio this time around!
How do you like to move?
All workouts fueled by massive amounts of vegetables, duh.
I made a workout mix for you and an exercise routine to go with it. (It’s called “work it, gurl” but “gurl” is very non-gender specific because DUH, all kinds of people can sweat it out to this mix.) I am VERY excited to present it, as this is the first workout I’ve made, and I want to do a lot more of this sort of thing.
Below you will find the workout moves, a PDF of the movements in large text (so you can print it out and see what you’re doing as you go) and some video links of how to do the movements so you’re doing them with proper form. Please make sure to properly warm up and cool down, because you gotta treat your muscles like gold if you want them to continue to support you.
For reference: AMRAP is a crossfit term, it means as many rounds as possible. I use poker chips or pennies to count my rounds, as when I am sweating my face off I tend to be forgetful. I recommend doing this workout once a week and trying to beat your previous times!
Lastly, use headphones if you can. There is a sprint run midway, and it won’t really work if you can’t time it with the music.
PDF: WORK IT, GURL
Pre mixtape- Take a run around your block, at a very easy pace. Take deep breaths, feel rad in your body. You deserve this.
Austra- Darken Her Horse: 30 second run in place, 15 jumping jacks, 10 slow air squats. STRETCH however feels good for the duration of the song. Maybe try downward dog, warrior one, two, and three on each side. (Jumping Jacks, Air squats)
Bikini Kill- Demi Rep: Rest during the children’s rhyme of the warm up. Then AMRAP-20 mountain climbers- 20 butt kickers- 20 high knees-20 mummy kicks (Mountain climbers, Butt kickers, High knees, Mummy Kicks)
Heart- Crazy On You: AMRAP 20 hollow body rocks, 20 lateral jumps (side to side jumps with feet together. Use something to jump over, like a can), 20 tricep dips (Hollow body rocks, Lateral jumps, Tricep dips)
Beyonce- Countdown : Mid point jog. Go slow if you need to, sprint if you can.
Crabapple- All the things: Plank hold as much as possible through the duration of the song. Don’t drop if you can! If you do drop rest for a breath and get back up. Also keep your butt low! (Plank)