Rest Day or Workout? What to Eat?
So I have been working out intensely for the past year and I still experience muscle soreness! Just this last week I had a nice little reunion with Max 30 and man was my body hurting! I could barely walk. My thighs, butt and abs were just aching! I have been doing Piyo and running for the past 60 days and there are lots of squats and lunges but it just goes to show that when you switch up your workouts you still work your muscles in a different way! So instead of taking a rest day and using that as an excuse not to workout. I chose a workout that did not target my lower body! Instead doing an upper body workout! I did some research about working out and muscle soreness since so many of my customers experience it when they start my challenge groups. I figured it would be well worth sharing with all of you as well! Who isn’t sore from working out at one point or another! It’s best to know how to handle this discomfort.
It’s common for beginners to experience muscle soreness that lasts for a week or two, just as seasoned exercisers will be sore after a tough work out. Yes, you should keep working out even though you are sore, but there is more to it than that. The only way to avoid muscle soreness is to not workout at all! And that is certainly not going to get you that body you envision in your mind!
Muscle soreness has two primary causes. The first soreness you experience happens during your workout (“the burn”) and should subside within a couple of hours. This is caused by lactic acid production. When you are training and your muscles are not getting enough oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis), lactic acid builds up. You can break down lactic acid by continuing to move and by doing light aerobic exercise (such as walking) after your workout. This is why cool-downs are so important, especially for beginners. The longer you cool down, the faster that lactic acid will leave the muscles (typically within an hour).
The type of muscle soreness you are experiencing, up to a day or two (and sometimes even three) after your workout is known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS is caused by microscopic tears inside the muscles, resulting from weight-training or fully exhausting the muscles during cardio. This is normal. Again, beginners will be more sore and usually for longer, but if you really worked as hard as you should have during a weight-lifting session, you should be somewhat sore for the next day or two.
This is where rest comes in. You absolutely must rest the muscles you worked for 1-2 days after a workout. Take at least one day off between strength training sessions, and if you are still very sore, take 2 days off. (This means from lifting, not from all exercise such as cardio). If you don’t let your muscles recover and repair, they will continue to break down and you will actually get weaker.
To help prevent soreness in the future, and alleviate some of it now, be sure to:
- Always warm-up for 5-10 minutes and cool-down for at least 5 minutes.
- Stretch after a warm-up, during your workout, and after you are done. Only stretch when your muscles are already warm from some kind of light activity.
- Stay active. The more your muscles move, the faster they will recover from exercise and soreness. If you choose to rest completely instead of “actively recovering” with light exercise, you’ll probably be sore longer.
One technique I’ve used with some success to reduce my own muscle soreness is to use a foam roller regularly as a part of my cool down. This has been particularly helpful for me after a long, high intensity bike ride or after I start a new type of exercise or a new weight training routine. Plus it just feels amazing to stretch out your muscles. The key is to find the sore spot and lay on it. So use the foam roller find the hot spot and just sink into it slowly moving back and forth almost giving yourself a massage! Feel the knots and tension melt away!
There are also some great post workout drinks and foods that you can consume to help reduce the post muscle soreness and help your body to recovery faster.
The most important meal you eat is the one that you have directly after your workout. for about an hour after your workout, there’s a window of opportunity when your muscles are literally starving for nutrients. We call this the golden hour. And the meal you eat at this time is the most important for building muscle and replenishing energy sources.
The first thing your body needs is a nice fresh supply of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are used by your body for making muscles, hormones, neurotransmitters, bones and all sorts of other important things. Exercise depletes critical amino acids such as glutamine, valine, isoleucine and leucine–and the way you replenish your body’s supply is with protein. That means meat, chicken, eggs, fish or whey protein powder.
The second thing you need is some carbohydrates. Exercise draws upon your body’s stores of glycogen, which is the storage form of sugar. Glycogen waits in the liver and the muscles for a signal that sugar is needed: “Hey, she’s exercising, let’s give her some fuel!” Your body can hold about 1,800 calories of sugar as glycogen, which is plenty to fuel any workout short of a marathon, but athletes do best when their glycogen stores are full, so unless you are on a carb-restricted diet, some slow-burning carbs after working out is a good idea. (Hint: The best carbs are oatmeal, brown rice, grains like quinoa or amaranth, and all vegetables and fruits).
Your muscles need protein for repair and growth, and your body needs some carbs to replenish its glycogen stores. Truth be told, after a hard workout your body is like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors: It’s crying “Feed me!” and it won’t take no for an answer. Remember, right before exercise you have to consider the time it takes to digest food, so you need to go light. But post-workout is the ideal time to have a full meal. So what’s the best meal, or combination of foods, to have post-workout?
Shakeology is a great post workout meal. It has a perfect combination of protein and carbs along with all the essential amino acids and nutrients your body needs to recovery from the workout you just did. At least you don’t have to stand there in the kitchen wondering if what you are eating is the right option. Instead whip up a shake and go! It honestly is refreshing and delicious!