May your Coffee be strong and your Muscles be sore

Heard of the title quote before? You might be a person who loves that caffeine boost pre workout and also cherish those post sore muscle aches.

Afraid of taking a rest? A day off? A week off? A week to de load?

All of us are guilty of this. Taking time off, is usually seen as not working hard enough, or wanting to cut ourselves some slack from our workout routine.

Muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen, and built in bed

This quote you may not have heard, especially the last part about muscle building in bed. Think of your muscles as engines for your body, or a battery pack. They need to be re-charged too, especially at night. Sleeping is a huge part of building energy for the next day, as written about by Dominique last month. I will focus on the importance of having de load weeks, and pushing through to taking a complete week off your exercise routine.

Deload

If you feel like you are reaching a plateau in your lifting, not hitting the heavy reps or not having good enough form on all reps, chances are you are overtraining. Your central nervous system could be despondent from all of that simultaneous active firing of major muscle groups.

  • Take a week to lower your intensity and volume loads. You can either change the weights you are using or the number of repetitions. Specific information on de-loading can be found here.

My personal favorite forms of recovery include doing light cardio, foam rolling, yin yoga, active stretches, get a massage and lots of sleep. I basically shift my hours of sleep from 7 to 8 to at least 10 hours per day.

  • Make an effort to go to bed even earlier, increase your sleep time at least 2 hours from the usual
  • Take a day off completely and rest at home
  • Calm your mind and watch some shows/movies to relax

Light cardio keeps your metabolism going, without exerting yourself too much. It still keeps you sweating, to make you feel like you are still doing something, if you really cannot take having complete rest days.

  • Running for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Using an elliptical trainer or cross trainer for 10 minutes

Foam rolling helps, though this might still be a little too much if you really are super sore. I would suggest rolling twice a day for about half hour each time. Follow by some active stretching, either dynamic or rotational. Deep stretches involve holding a particular stretch for longer periods of time such as 10 minutes. Yin and restorative yoga are excellent examples of deep stretching.