Topic 1: Training while travelling
Frequently I (and I’m sure many of you) am travelling and not around a gym. While most of the time this is for short stints and might be a welcome break from the gym, it can sometimes really interfere with a training schedule.
I have been pushing my workouts pretty hard throughout my sickness, which is something that I wouldn’t normally, in order to keep on track for my competition in October. This has left me pretty drained most days. On Friday, I had planned to do a chest and abs day in the gym as I knew I wouldn’t have access to any fitness equipment over the weekend. My body was completely drained however and that did not happen, so Saturday has come and I need to keep on going.
Thankfully, Chest and Abs are 2 easy muscle groups to work without equipment. Here is the workout I did:
Chest/triceps circuit – repeat 3 times
- Wide pushups x 15
- Bench tricep dips (between 2 chairs) x 12
- Normal width decline push ups (feet on a chair) x 12
- Side to side push ups (see here for a demonstration) x 10
Abs Circuits – repeat 3 times
- In and outs (like a jack knife but knees bent) x 15
- Oblique sit ups (knees to the side) x 10 each side
- Frog sit ups (knees out to side and feet together) x 15
- Wide scissor kicks x 20
I did this workout while my 10 (soon to be 11) year old brother and friend were running around and over top of me. Both of them are pretty rambunctious kids so it was pretty quick with little set up aside from positioning the chairs and putting down a blanket. I was sweating by the end and my abs and arms were definitely pumped. Not the hardest workout I’ve ever designed, but definitely accomplished what I needed to.
I always recommend going to the gym over working out at home because there are no distractions at the gym. I also find when I am in the gym atmosphere I naturally push a little harder. I have so many more options available to me that if I feel like something isn’t hard enough or working the right part of the muscle; I can use a different weight or piece of equipment. But a workout regardless of intensity is always better than no workout. So if you find yourself stuck without a gym and you want to do a workout, then think of ways to mimic the movements you would have done in the gym without equipment. Use your bodyweight to challenge yourself in new ways. There are lots of different bodyweight exercises available online. One of my favourite resources is bodybuilding.com.
Topic 2: leg workouts and the dreaded DOMS
DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is that lovely sensation that your muscles have turned to jelly and are super sensitive to any movement or touch after an intense workout. It’s “delayed” because it doesn’t happen right away. The peak time for DOMS is 48 hours after a workout. DOMS can happen to any part of the body, but I have always found legs to be the worst.
Unfortunately this stops a lot of people from coming back to the gym after the first few times. People beginning a new workout plan are particularly susceptible to DOMS and if you can’t workout for 4 days it can be pretty hard to stick to a regime you have set yourself, but there are ways to avoid or lessen DOMS.
- Go easy. If you are starting a new regime after being inactive for anything longer than 2 weeks, go easy. I think we all have a habit of thinking “ok, I’m back in the gym. I have to make up for lost time and really give it my all”. Of course then you end up not able to walk for 4 days and that leads to more lost time. You have to ease into a new workout plan. Start with lighter weights than you might normally use, do higher repetitions and fewer sets. Your body will thank you for giving it a breaking in period. It should only take about 2 weeks before your body starts to remember what this is all about… or discovers it for the first time!
- Do similar exercises for a few weeks in a row. You may have heard of muscle confusion; that is the special ingredient for really getting results, but it also results in increased DOMS because you are constantly doing something different to your muscles and they don’t know how to deal with it. So if you aren’t looking for drastic results you can slow it down a little. Only change your exercises up every 3-4 weeks when your body has fully adjusted and is no longer getting the most out of the regime. You will experience way fewer days of DOMS and only have it come back when you switch training methods.
- Take active rest. As painful as it may be, going for a reasonably light, long walk will really benefit your muscles and help you recover faster. When you get the muscles moving they are getting more oxygen and blood flow and this in turn helps eliminate the lactic acid build up that is causing so much pain. Don’t do anything too strenuous, just get the blood flowing and you will feel much better, I promise.
- Pay attention to nutrient timing.Your body needs fuel for your workout before you start and help to repair itself after. This is a complex topic that I’ll probably end up writing a lengthy post about later, but generally:
- Eat simple carbs that are easy to digest before a workout (banana and other fruit work well)
- Eat protein after a workout to give your body the building blocks it needs to repair the muscle you have just broken down. I like protein shakes. My current shake of choice is BioX Xtreme Power Whey Complex in Rocky Road. It tastes like hot chocolate that has gone cold.
- Optional: you can also eat some simple carbs like fruits after a workout especially if it was very difficult to help your body use to protein better, but if you are trying to lose weight, just the protein is enough. If you are trying to build muscle, definitely eat some fruit after.
- Supplement. If you are doing all the other things and still getting DOMS or you want to be able to push yourself that much harder, there a few supplements that can help.
- Fish oils – Omega 3’s help your body more efficiently repair itself and can really help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation
- BCCAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) – There is some interesting science behind these, but I won’t get into that here. These help limit the amount of muscle your body breaks down for energy during workouts and therefore saves a lot of your muscle. It should be taken throughout the length of your workout.
- Glutamine – This is an amino acid that your body can produce, but if you are working out hard, it usually can’t keep up. So mixing some extra glutamine or just a plain protein shake can help to replenish your body’s stores and it can use this to help rebuild your muscles.
I hope that can spare some of you a little pain.