Monthly Archives: June 2012

Should My Muscles Always be Sore After a Workout?

One thing that I tell all clients, old or new, is that their body will change, adapt and get “better” when they give it a new stimulus that it isn’t used to.  For example, if you’ve only ever done Zumba and then you try lifting weights… that is a new stimulus.  If you ALWAYS lift weights for 8- 12 repetitions per set and then go through a workout where you hit momentary muscular failure (MMF) at 4- 6 repetitions, that is also a new stimulus.  To be able to deal with the new stress, your body will adapt by building new muscle tissue to make the demand less severe.

Along with this adaptation comes some pain in the form of muscle soreness.  Any beginner that has started an exercise program has felt the deep muscle ache in their thighs, their chest and in their abdomen when they’ve pushed things further than they normally would.  Most beginners are also surprised at how quickly the soreness that they felt when they started disappears.  Does this mean that the program they are on is now less effective because they aren’t “feeling” it any more?  The answer to that is…  it depends!

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, your muscle soreness after a training session will be anywhere from non- existent (during a maintenance phase where you are simply trying to keep active) to extreme soreness (when you are preparing to conquer something that you have never done before).

At one time, fitness buffs talked about “No Pain, No Gain”.  As a message, this turned off casual exercisers who could have benefited greatly from more strenuous regimes.  As a reaction, the “no pain, no gain” mantra was pushed aside for the more friendly “gain without pain”.  The message being that you don’t HAVE to hurt after a workout to receive benefit.  I believe that ideally, things would land somewhere in the middle.  You don’t have to ALWAYS hurt after a workout, but, if you are going to train for your first marathon, or you are trying to shed 40 pounds of excess fat, then there will most definitely be times when your body is sore after a workout.

The trick is to determine what kind of pain you are experiencing.  If you’ve run stairs for the first time and the next day both of your calves feel sore, that’s okay.  If one of your Achilles tendons is aching and it is hard to put pressure on that side of your body, then that is not okay.

Pain (or soreness) is your body’s way of telling you that you better take note because you’ve overdone it a bit.  It can alert you to injury, overuse or just that you’ve worked out and your body is adapting.

Whenever we change the routine of a long-term fitness client, they’ll feel sore for a few days.  That’s normal.  The greatest amount of muscle soreness will occur between 48 and 72 hours and then, it should start to dissipate.

Here are a few things to be aware of that aren’t normal and that you should not ignore. 

1-  Pain in a single limb when you’ve worked both legs or arms equally.

2-  Extreme soreness that lasts more than 3 to 4 days.

3-  Joint pain.  It’s okay for your muscles to be sore, not your joints.

4-  Radiating pain that shoots to another part of your body.  ex:  Pain traveling from your shoulder to your elbow.

5-  Numbness or tingling.  This is usually a sign of nerve damage.

6-  Soreness that never seems to lessen no matter how long you repeat a specific  workout routine.

7-  Pain that is worse at night and that may wake you from your sleep.

If you experience any of the above, you should consult with your physician.

Getting stronger, fitter and leaner is a process of adaptation.  Muscle soreness after exercise is normal.  It is usually tolerable and won’t have any long- term negative effects.

If you would like to get rid of muscle soreness, here are some tips that could help.

1-  Take a hot bath to increase blood flow and stretch gently in a hot shower or bath.

2-  Use a foam roller for self- massage.

3-  Do some light exercise, like walking or swimming, to increase blood flow and core body temperature.

4-  Be extra vigilant with your nutrition to ensure that your muscles get the protein and carbohydrates that they need.  When you are sore, it is NOT the time to cut back on your veggies!

5-  Be patient!  Time is the only thing guaranteed to get rid of all muscle soreness.

Ernie Schramayr–  Owner All Canadian Fitness

Should I Replace Two Meals Per Day With a Shake?

It seems like hardly a week goes by that I am not approached by someone that “thought of me” and wants to share this incredible new discovery they have made.  Since I own a fitness business, their discovery typically involves some type of meal replacement shake…. and an “opportunity” to make money, while doing good for others.

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Without naming names, I’m sure that you’re familiar with the company that has been making a massive marketing push in North America in the past year, issuing people a challenge to get themselves fit, lean and healthy in 90 days.  The premise is that they have created a superior product to other meal replacements or shakes (they have not) and that if you are trying to lose weight, you would be better off drinking their product twice per day instead of eating real food.  Over the 90 days, you’ll lose weight, feel great…. and hopefully inspire your friends and relatives to join you by starting their own journey.

So… is it a good idea to stop eating and start drinking?

As a professional in the Health and Fitness industry with over 20 years experience, I would have to say absolutely not.  In guiding people to develop better nutrition habits that are supportive of metabolism, I always teach that “real” food is best.  The idea that a shake is “better” than a chicken breast, broccoli and a sweet potato is ridiculous.  The role of any supplement (like a shake) is to SUPPLEMENT your eating habits.  A meal replacement shake can be a useful tool for those times when you just can’t get to a meal, but it shouldn’t be used ongoing as the meal in and of itself. You can’t fix bad eating habits with supplements, no matter what any marketer will tell you.

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Weight loss as a result of drinking instead of eating is a result of cutting calories and reducing carbohydrates.  There is no magic formula.  The shakes do not “burn fat”, nor do they “build muscle” as the marketing materials will tell you.  If you replaced your meals twice per day with 300 calories of chocolate milk you would also lose weight.

Cutting calories (and carbs) for short term weight loss does work.  BUT, it always leads to weight being re-gained (as metabolism slows to protect your body) and causes what many refer to as the yo-yo dieting phenomenon.  The weight that you lose by drastically cutting calories will include some lean muscle tissue (the source of an efficient metabolism).  When this happens, you will hit a plateau where you can’t seem to lose any more weight and then start to actually re-gain what you have lost.  The problem is that, while you lost lean mass, you regain what you’ve lost as fat.  You’ll find yourself back where you started… but with MORE body fat and a slower metabolism.

The bottom line is that if you base your health and fitness success purely on pounds lost, you will be disappointed at some point.  And you’ll be susceptible to any claim or product that tells you that they have the magic to get you there.

Speed your metabolism by learning to EAT a mix of protein and complex carbohydrates frequently throughout the day, build your muscles (the source of your metabolism) and exercise aerobically for a stronger heart and lungs.  When you can’t get to a real meal, use a shake.

That’s it.  THAT’S the magic.

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If it seems to be too good to be true, it is.

 

Ernie Schramayr–  Owner All Canadian Fitness