The title speaks for itself really…what do you do when you’ve done too much? You lift and feel great, so you go for a run, and still feel great, so then you do an ab circuit or another HIIT workout…ok, maybe that’s a bit much haha. But you lift heavy and run; then the next day…oof. Your muscles will be screaming and you won’t be able to move. Walking down the stairs will be a huge challenge. But you don’t want to miss a day of scheduled workout so you push through the pain and workout again. The following day you’re so sore you can’t move and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) sets in…BAD. So then you actually can’t workout for the next 3 days! When you finally feel good enough to workout again, you overdo it as a way to make up for the off days…vicious cycle! Sound familiar? I’ve done this way too many times to count and it took having a baby to knock me down for a while and force me to come back slowly. Now, I don’t want you to have to have a baby to force you to slow down so here are some tips that have worked for me to prevent overdoing it and how I come back without ending up in the vicious DOMS cycle.
1.) Plan your workouts
A lot of times, I tend to wing it when it comes to working out. I have a list of exercises I want to do, so I pick a few and pick a format (AMRAP, tabata, etc) and go for it. Then the next day, I do the same thing and I may over work one muscle group which will equate to not being able to lift my arms the next day, which I really need to seeing as how I have a 15lb weight who can’t walk yet 🙂 . To avoid this, but still keep my workouts interesting and not monotonous, I plan my workouts…sort of. I have a pattern I like to stick to.
Wednesday: full body
Thursday: straight cardio or sprints
Friday: whatever I feel like
Saturday & Sunday: run or walk
This schedule allows me to let certain muscle groups rest and heal while still working other muscle groups. I like to incorporate moves that work everything (i.e., kettlebell swings, squat thrusters, etc) but I’ll try and pick moves that focus on specific muscles groups. For example, an arm day might look like this:
AMRAP 20 min 10 reps ea
Renegade Row to Burpee
Sumo squat to row
Push-up to Plank Jack
These exercises mainly focus on arms but will still incorporate legs a little. This allows your legs to rest but still be worked enough to not let the lactic acid set in and cause DOMS.
2.) Active Rest Days
Rest days are important. Your body needs time off to heal itself before you challenge it again. However, if your rest day is sitting on the couch all day (which some of mine totally are :|), this could cause muscle soreness to increase. Lactic acid is produced when your cells do not get enough oxygen. How do you prevent lactic acid and provide your cells with enough oxygen? Exercise. Wait, what? That’s not rest! Hear me out. When you move, you’re providing your muscles with oxygen. When you workout hard enough, where you’re breathing hard and your muscles are burning, that’s anaerobic exercise, meaning you’re working so hard your muscles are processing oxygen slower. This creates lactic acid build up. In order to prevent lactic acid buildup (aka, sore muscles) you need to provide your muscles with oxygen by way of aerobic exercise. A simple walk will do this. It allows your muscles to get oxygen to your cells to prevent the lactic acid from forming without creating an anaerobic environment. I like to have active rest days on my weekends, when I know I might be a little busier with family and friends. So I’ll go for walks or runs (only if I feel good enough!).
3.) Stretching and Foam Rolling
The last tip that has helped me from overdoing and being able to come back better if I do overdo it is my recovery and stretching after my workouts. This is KEY! Stretching allows your muscles to become more flexible in order to correct muscle imbalances and lengthen tight (or overactive) muscles. You’re muscles will be tight after working them in a workout so we need to lengthen them afterwards so they have the flexibility to move the next day. If you did a lower body workout and didn’t stretch afterwards, how would you feel the next day? A little tight maybe? This is why we stretch. It is often a neglected part of working out when, really, it’s one of the most important aspects. Foam rolling does the same thing as stretching but on a deeper level. Using a foam roller not only helps loosen up tight muscles but it also helps loosen the fascial tissue around the muscles. For example, when you have a knot in your back, you want someone to put pressure on that knot to loosen it up, right? Foam rolling works in the same way…it lengthens and loosens up your muscles and muscular tissue, to prevent soreness. I highly recommend foam rolling. You can get a foam roller for $10-$20 online usually so it’s not an expensive investment but well worth it.
These are a couple of my favorite foam rolling positions because, as a runner, my hammies and quads can get super tight…
Quad foam roll: Get into a plank position where your thighs are over the foam roller. Use your elbows and forearms to move yourself and let the weight of your legs push your quads along the foam roller. Do this 30-60 seconds.
Hamstring Foam Roll: Place one leg on the foam roll so your hamstring is sitting on the roller and place your other leg over that leg like you’re sitting criss-cross. Lift yourself up on your hands so your butt comes off the floor and there’s pressure on your hamstring. Use your hands to move your body so the foam roller is moving up and down your hamstring. Do this 30-60 seconds.
Hope these tips help you have a safer and more consistent workout regimen. No overdoing it! 🙂