Top 2 Clues Your Muscles Need A Time Out

You know how sometimes little kids throw temper tantrums when they either don’t get their way or when they just want someone to pay attention to them?
We’ve all seen it happen: the melt down in the grocery store because little Johnny wants Lucky Charms Cereal and Mom just ain’t having it.
 Limbs flailing, tears flowing, screams of shear agony ringing far beyond aisle 6.
Meltdown Mode: ON. 
Well, I’ve got news for you. It’s not just kiddos that throw those ugly temper tantrums; muscles do it too. And it’s just  almost as horrifying when it’s your own muscles doing it as it is when it’s your child.
Don’t believe me? Take last week, for instance. My muscles were just plain angry. They’d been warning me of the impending temper tantrum for a while, but I just kept on going. Sure, I take days off each week, and schedule deload weeks into my training, but I haven’t had any actual off time in quite a while now. I noticed myself being generally fatigued both in and out of the gym, and really haven’t been seeing any improvements in my lower body work in the last month or so.  And even on rest days, I’ve been riding my bike to/from work, which adds up to about 10 miles of cycling per day. Is that true rest? I think not.
Clue #1 that your muscles need a time out: excessive soreness
Last week, those muscles of mine had had enough. Despite doing a normal leg day the previous Thursday, I was exceptionally sore until Monday.  And my lift on Wednesday, although relatively light for a squat day, left me sore until this past weekend.
Not normal.
Unless you’re a beginner or just starting out on a new program with new lifts, all of your workouts should not make you extremely sore. I’m talking full body, hurts-to-do-daily-tasks kind of sore.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how tired and angry my muscles were until after Wednesday’s workout; I know in hindsight it would have probably been better just to skip that one. But when I went to bed Wednesday night already dreading my bike ride in in the morning, I knew something was up. When I woke up on Thursday and that feeling hadn’t gone away, I knew we were in full-fledged-tantrum mode.
And that brings us to:
Clue #2 that your muscles need a time out:   The thought of lifting (or whatever your routine) makes you want to vomit. 
Seriously.
I woke up on Thursday and would have rather rolled around on a bed of hot coals than step into the weight room. Or do any type of physical activity for that matter. Anyone who knows me knows that this is just straight up weird. I love the gym, remember? But when the muscles get in tantrum mode, all bets are off.
When I realized the thought of the gym that day made me feel like the world was ending, I knew something more than just a “day off” was needed: I needed a time out. No, correction, my muscles needed a time out.
 It’s now Monday. I have not worked out since last Wednesday, and didn’t even ride my bike to work Thursday or Friday. Thursday, I did end up walking about 4 miles by accident, and I did walk a ton this weekend in NYC, but exercise besides that has been nonexistent.
And you know what? It’s been glorious. I think I’m even going to take today off too– bike only today– and head back to the gym tomorrow.
After my muscle time out, I’m actually feeling more than ready to get back in there and have some quality lifts, this week with much happier muscles than last.  Just like with little screaming Johnny, sometimes your muscles just need a break to relax and recharge after a meltdown. A few days off can be the key to pushing past your plateau; heck, I might even give myself until Wednesday to make it a full week.
My point here is this: don’t be afraid of multiple days away from the gym! Listen to your body, figure out what it needs, and nurture it like crazy. Healthy muscles = happy muscles, and happy muscles don’t throw tantrums. 
 
Have you ever hit a wall where you know you need time off? How do you know when you need time off from training? How many days do you take off per week? 
 
Oh, and someone please tell me a good child-tantrum-in-public story. 
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11 thoughts on “Top 2 Clues Your Muscles Need A Time Out

  1. So far I don’t know that I have, I’ve had the -rather roll around on hot coal days but I’m not sure it was due to the gym time. My schedule is interrupted and my gym time varies so much. But I like the reminder to listen to your body! So important. Okay kid tantrum? My daughter – a little over 2 years in age. Cute little sweet red-headed child. So adorable… until – she doesn’t get her way. So this time she’d had a rough one, not getting her way and I was into the trying a time out period. You know, put her in a little chair in the corner so she can’t get to toys and she can’t really see what is going on about the house and she can think about what she’s done [ yea I think thinking your two y/o thinking for any length of time about WHAT she’s doing there is off the table the moment their little butts sit in the chair ] but anyway – it was for ONE minute… just one. OMG, she started wailing, that didn’t work. Called MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMYYYY! Sobs begin, that didn’t work [ I think we’re at 20 seconds now ] then she starts just full on bull screaming. OH yea now this time out is SO much fun for Mommy. Maybe about the 40 second mark she starts kicking the wall… then somehow, I hear a THUMP! and SILENCE.. then aSCREAM blew off the roof, she’d flipped herself over in the chair. Holey cow – this kid was into now full on freak mode. And I felt like the worst mom on the planet. She was more scared than hurt but I still felt like crap Mom of the year. She was also master of the drop down in the store and flail like she’s doing the swimmer on dry land. ;o) So cute.

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  2. LOVE this post. I think we see so much out there about pushing ourselves to the brink that we think we need to keep going when our bodies are trying to tell us to take a break. It’s honestly after I take breaks from lifting every once in awhile that I feel and look my best!

  3. i just came back from a whole week off training. i really needed a break! i dont usually do a whole week.. every 2 a bit months i take 4 days, deload etc.. but this was totally off seven days!

    • I don’t usually do a whole week either… I do deload weeks but still train, just at a lower volume, intensity, etc. Totally off for 7 days sounds heavenly every once in a while; no matter how much you love training, your body just needs a break at some point!

  4. Thank you for this reminder Steph! I take 2 rest days per week, but I rarely take 2 or more days off in a row. I know sometimes I could use it though. So next time my body is asking for a more extended break, I’m going to listen to it!

    • I think it’s a reminder that we all need sometimes!! I’ve been training 5 days per week for the past year (obviously with some weeks being less than that), but I think I was finally just starting to break down. After about 10 days off now I feel excellent, and have more energy than I’ve had in months. Rest is just as important than training, and in some cases even more important!

  5. ughhh i used to be so overtrained that i would be constantly nauseous, get really sick before my period would come, be so lethargic / depressed that NOTHING would motivate me…but, the most bizarre thing was i kept improving in the gym and couldn’t see a decrease in my performance nor was my body excessively sore. i basically just had every OTHER symptom known to man but was too stubborn to listen hahah. i finally got smart though and i started taking waaaay more rest days and cutting back on volume and eventually i started feeling like a person again…but it took a solid year and a half. NOW i only work out 3x a week (plus other random things like playing tennis or bike riding) and i have way more energy, enjoy working out, and don’t feel so run down. it was so hard to put the brakes on, but i’m doing muuuuch better. i don’t even feel guilty about it especially since my work outs (and i KNOW yours too) are wayyy more intense than the average persons and i’m just as in shape now (if not more) than i was before. moral of the story: rest days are supreme…. and, if my kid was throwing a temper tantrum, i’d probably make them run stairs. (jk….kinda).

    • Uugh it’s so frustrating… And as I’ve mentioned in a couple of comments above, I’ve continued my rest because I just wasn’t recovered enough after 1 week. I also realized that for the past few months I’ve just been drained of energy 100% of the time, constantly fatigued, all I want to do is sleep on the weekends, and even then haven’t had any energy. Since I’ve given myself a bit of a break, I’m finally feeling like my energy levels are coming back to normal. I think what I need to do at this point is keep myself on a strict 3-4 days of training per week, instead of the 4-5 that I’ve been doing fo rhtepast year. Too much volume has just finally started to catch up with me I think!

  6. Pingback: Stadium Workout and a Smoothie | I Train Therefore I Eat.

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