I have talked about the dreaded DOMS on here before. But it’s been quite a while since I experiences DOMS that were crippling in nature.
Us fitties are always going on about how the gym makes us happy, endorphins are great and the muscle soreness is “good” right? That stuff is all true (really it is, trust me) but it’s true because our bodies have adapted to this lifestyle. Unfortunately, when you take 3 weeks off (involuntarily, I assure you) you’re body quickly unadapts.
Why? Because it hates you.
Well no, that’s not true, it’s just that it takes an awful lot of energy to maintain the ability to recover from intense activity, and your body is designed to conserve energy if it’s not needed (that’s also why we get fat!).
What happens is you don’t really lose much strength or muscle size, at least not that quickly, because your body expended a heck of a lot of energy to build that muscle, it’s not going to waste it if it can be helped. What is going to suffer is your ability to recover and your cardio.
Seriously, cardio conditioning is something you have to do ALL THE TIME otherwise it’s gone in 2 weeks. Annoying, I know.
But back to the whole recovery thing. So you (I) go into the gym after 3 weeks off and are like, ok, let’s decrease the weight a little, focus on form and get in a good solid leg workout. You get through a higher than normal rep range because of the decreased weight and your form is great. After the workout, you are tired, but feeling fabulous. Then in the afternoon you notice a slight twinge in your leg when you get up, it’s been less than 8 hours since the workout, and feeling pain already does NOT bode well. The next day you can barely move because your legs are so totaled from yesterday’s “lighter” workout and it’s now Tuesday (4 days) after the workout and your hamstring are still feeling it!
That’s what happens. It’s also what happens to a lot of first timers who go into the gym and think they are superstars because they can leg press 200 pounds no problem and then can’t walk for a week. Then they get discouraged because they are in immense amounts of pain from one workout and they are expected to do this 3 times a week?! Well we all know it’s not like that every time, but they don’t know that. So it’s definitely discouraging.
Your body learns that it has to recover quickly from these sessions because you are going to do it again in a few days. Your body gets good at recovering and next thing you know, you’ve forgotten what real DOMS feels like.
Some things that you can do to help ease the pain:
– Take a pre-workout that includes BCAAs in order to spare some of you muscle’s from breaking down during the workout
– Get your post-workout nutrition within 30 mins of exercise which should include a protein shake (not casein) and a simple carb (like fruit) and maybe some glutamine and more BCAAs for good measure (those 2 are optional but I wish I had done that)
– Warm up really well before hand without completely tiring out the muscles you are working
– Stretch well, but not excessively after the workout… stretching a little is good as it lengthens the muscle and helps flush lactic acid; stretching too much will increase the amount of tears in your already torn muscles and actually increase the pain.
– Take an Epsom salt bath, this helps flush lactic acid to and can warm up stiff muscles
Unfortunately once you have DOMS you are kind of stuck, you have to take preventative measures in order to deal with it properly.
Here is the workout that induced such pain:
Getting back into Legs
Cardio – 20 min interval run
- Back squats – normal stance – 3 sets of 10-12 reps getting as low as possible with 115 lbs (normally 135 – 165 lbs)
- Straight leg deadlifts – normal stance – 3 sets of 10-12 reps with 135 lbs (normally 155 – 185 lbs)
- Bulgarian split squats holding 15 lb dumbells – 3 sets – 10 reps each leg
- Kettlebell swings with 12 kg kb – 3 sets – 20 reps
- Hamstring curls – 3 sets – 12 reps with 80 lbs
- Back extension (focusing on pulling with glutes not back) – 3 sets – 15 reps – no weight
Stretch for 15 mins after