The burn of muscle fatigue is powerful. It is an integral part of weightlifting for all strength sports. The question becomes what do you do when everything is sore, and the nagging voice in your head starts whispering “surely this is enough, we can quit now right?” As a coach I have seen this happen and today we’ll talk about how to cope with the soreness both in session after.
I say blood heals best. What I mean is that getting your blood flowing will help get you feeling better the fastest. Active recovery is much more than just stretching on your off day. I like to take my warmup from the day before and go through it. Then I do some stretching to help alleviate the sore muscles. Some light cardio can also help to get the body feeling better again.
Hydration and Nutrition
Make sure you’re drinking enough water and eating enough high-quality nutrients. Not just protein but also complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. A well-rounded diet plan will do wonders for how your body feels while you’re performing.
Of course, along with active recovery of getting the blood flowing some each day, this is also an optimal time to include some targeted mobility. Incorporating stretches and locomotion into your routine to help lengthen the muscle and allow more access for transporting all the parts that make you sore out of the body.
By now you’re likely thinking, that’s great for my off days but what about now. I’m in session, my legs are still tired from the last session, and I have 8 more squats to get through. You’re the only one who is getting the exact information that your body is telling you. You have to listen to your body and adjust as necessary. Programming intensity can vary day over day depending on how you feel. Most days will be “do as the program says” but there will be some days where you have to listen and reduce the load to progress.
Lifting is hard. Bodyweight skills are hard. Transformation is hard. Developing mental strength is an integral part of the process of growth. Set realistic goals and cultivate a positive mindset. This will help you tell when you need to push and when you can pump the brakes. A positive mindset and goals also will encourage you to bring perspective into the moment to determine if you’re really tired or if you just want an easy out.
Finally, finding a community that understands what you are doing can help alert you when what you’re dealing with is normal or not. It allows you to find new ways to alleviate muscle soreness and encourages you that you are not alone in this process. Even experienced lifters still run into soreness from certain sessions and learn how to move through them.
Muscle soreness is a part of the fitness journey, but it doesn’t have to be a stopping point. You can spend some time on your rest days alleviating soreness through stretching nutrition and some active recovery. And you can work on your fortitude in session listening to your body, practicing mindfulness exercises and finding a community to help guide you through. Also remember that the soreness isn’t forever. With regular and effective training, the soreness will not be a part of every session, it will eventually fade and only be a part of particularly difficult sessions.