If you're on a roll with your training or on a plan for a specific event, sometimes it's tempting to train even when your muscles are sore and achy. We look at whether it's a good idea to still train when you are sore.
Are sore muscles a good sign?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, is common among those who exercise regularly and is nothing to shy away from. Especially if you have recently increased your training intensity/frequency or you are a complete beginner to exercise, you can expect DOMS to last up to 72 hours after your workout.
Our muscles feel sore after a workout because when we train, we develop tiny 'satellite' tears in the muscles. Your muscles get stronger not when you exercise but afterwards, when you are eating and sleeping. This is why consuming enough protein and getting good quality sleep are both key to recovery and improving performance.
Sore muscles are a sign that you have worked hard and that your muscles are on their way to becoming stronger and more efficient. If your DOMS lasts over 72 hours, however, it's time to look at what you might be doing wrong. Perhaps you're not resting enough or not eating enough/the right nutrients. Once your body gets used to a certain training regime, you will find you don't get DOMS as often, if at all, which can be a signal it's time to crank up the intensity or change up your routine.
Read more: Are You Overtraining?
Read more: How Often Should I Take A Complete Rest Day?
Is it OK to work out if your muscles are sore?
In general, it is a bad idea to workout if your muscles are sore. Your muscles need time to repair and grow and it is only while you are resting that this can happen. However, this is not to say you cannot train at all.
If you train certain body parts at a time, you can easily train a different part of your body that is not aching that day. For example, if your chest and triceps are aching, you could still do a leg workout.
If you practise a sport that focuses mostly on one muscle group such as running or cycling, there are still ways to get around skipping workouts. You could do your speed session on a Monday, followed by a hill session on a Tuesday and then rest on Wednesday. Then, you could do another speed session Thursday, a gym workout Friday, and your long run on Saturday with another rest day on Sunday. This sort of plan allows your legs to rest after the toughest sessions when they are most likely to ache.
In another sense, sometimes it's actually a good idea to train when your muscles are sore. Many runners will do a 'recovery run' the day after a particularly tough training session, which means doing a short and easy run to shake out any lactic acid still sitting in the legs and keeping active to stop your legs getting too stiff.
In summary, it's only bad to do an intense or tough workout when your muscles are sore. It can actually be beneficial to do a light workout to ease achy muscles.
Read more: DOMS Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Read more: How To Reduce DOMS In The Legs
CrossFit is more than just a sport, it's a community and a way of life. This guide will be your one-stop manual for getting into CrossFit for the first time and will cover everything from snatches to WODs to poods and everything in between.
You don't have to be fit to get started
This is probably the most important thing to note. A lot of people will put off trying a new sport or hobby for fear of being too unfit. CrossFit is accessible to everyone thanks to their scaled workouts. Whether you're unfit or have a disability, there's something for everyone. Don't let your nerves or insecurities hold you back and just dive straight in.
You will sweat and cry a lot
CrossFit is a notoriously tough sport. They don't crown the CrossFit Games champions as the Fittest On Earth for nothing! You have to have the motivation and the right attitude before you start. It has to be your decision and you have to own it; if you've been coaxed into it by someone else you'll be starting with the wrong attitude and you'll find it way harder than it needs to be. Be ready to sweat a lot and cry a lot, but reap the benefits and rewards at the end of a tough WOD.
Find a local CrossFit gym, known as a 'Box'
If you really want to dive straight in and hit this sport hard, finding your local CrossFit gym will help you get there. A CrossFit gym is known as a box and there are affiliates all over the world. You can find your local box through an internet search or by checking out affiliates on the official CrossFit website. A box will have all the proper CrossFit-specific equipment that you need, as you may not get a full workout at a commercial gym. Getting professional advice by an accredited trainer will also stop you from developing bad habits and will be available to give you advice along the way.
However, you don't have to join a box to be able to practice CrossFit. They can come with expensive memberships and you'll have to do a foundation course before you can participate in the classes. A commercial gym will have most of the equipment you need, and some people even just train out of a garage. Use what you have and don't feel like you're missing out just because you're not a member of an exclusive club or gym.
Know the jargon
There's a lot of sport-specific terminology used in CrossFit which you won't have come across before. Knowing what people are talking about is important if you want to join in on discussions about performance, and so that you know what workout you should be doing! Here are the basics:
WOD - Workout Of the Day. A daily workout published on the CrossFit website which CrossFitters all over the world will tackle and post their results to the public forum. A WOD is also a general term to refer to any CrossFit workout.
Pood - This is a Russian term which is a unit of measurement equalling just over 16kg. It is generally used for kettlebell workouts.
Rx - This is the prescribed way a workout should be completed, with set weights and times/reps. If you Rx a WOD, it means you completed it exactly how it was written. Alternatively, you can 'scale' a workout which might involve reducing the weights or swapping out an exercise. The CrossFit community is one of acceptance and inclusion, so scaling a workout is never anything to be ashamed of.
MetCon - Short for Metabolic Conditioning. This is typically a workout that doesn't involve heavy lifts, and consists more of a body weight circuit style workout. There is also a very popular CrossFit shoe by Nike called the 'MetCon'.
Double Under - This is a movement in skipping whereby the rope passes under your feet twice before they hit the ground. It's a tough movement and you won't be able to do it straight away without practice.
Practise the lifts
CrossFit is unique as it involves so many different physical disciplines: gymnastics, weightlifting, running, cycling, swimming, rope climbing... you name it, CrossFit will have you doing it! CrossFit will train you as a well-rounded athlete and with the right dedication you will develop unrivalled fitness. Think triathlons are impressive? Pro CrossFitters do Ironman triathlon as a warm up!
However, this can be overwhelming to a beginner. The only way to improve is to practise! If you go into the sport expecting to be perfect at it straight away, you'll be left feeling frustrated. CrossFit adopts a lot of really technical moves that athletes will spend their whole lives perfecting. Take your time and practise the exercises that you find the toughest. Scale a workout if you need to and take it easy. Some of the more difficult moves include things like handstand push ups, double unders, rope climbs, and weightlifting moves like the clean & jerk and the snatch. Learn these moves properly from scratch before trying to incorporate them into WODs and build yourself up slowly and gradually.
Know the stars of the sport
The CrossFit Games is the annual pinnacle of the CrossFit calendar. It's the event in which the fittest athletes in the world will congregate and compete to be crowned Fittest On Earth. As with most sports, there are star players, but CrossFit is open to anyone in the qualification stages so often there are rookie competitors too.
Fraser is the athlete to watch and is the proud holder of the title of Fittest Man on Earth. He is four-time winner of the games (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), equalling Rich Froning's record. He's competed in the games since 2014 and has proven how hungry he is for the sport and to be recognised as the fittest man on earth. He has spent years honing his technique and perfecting his lifts and it really shows.
Until Fraser won his fourth consecutive games in 2019, Froning held the record for winning the games the most amount of times, having claimed the title four years in a row from 2011 to 2014. He has won over $1 million in prize money from his wins and is sponsored by global sports brands like Reebok, Rogue Fitness, and Oakley. He is renowned in the sport and partly retired after his 2014 win. He now competes in the team events with his team Mayhem Freedom who are reigning team champions.
While Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit, Dave Castro is the face most people recognise as he hosts the games each year and it was at his family ranch in 2009 that the first ever CrossFit Games took place. His personality gets him mixed reviews and some even claim he has 'ruined' the sport. Nevertheless, he is one of the most important figures in CrossFit and it's him you will see on the floor announcing the next WOD in the Games and mixing with all the athletes.
Davidsdottir is one of three Icelandic powerhouses who dominate the female side of the sport. She has won the games twice, 2015 and 2016, after a mental setback in 2014. She was originally a track athlete and gymnast and her sporting background has clearly stood her in good stead for CrossFit glory.
Despite never actually winning the games, Sara is a leading figure in the sport of CrossFit. Sponsored by Nike, she is another of the Icelandic dynamos and has a very likeable personality making her the perfect CrossFit athlete to watch. She unfortunately suffered a bad injury during the 2018 games which caused her to withdraw and she continued to struggle in 2019. Only time will tell if she will be able to recover enough to challenge Tia-Clair Toomey's title.
Toomey is an Australian weightlifter who represented her country in the 2016 Olympics only a few weeks after appearing at the CrossFit games. With her background in lifting, she is a strong competitor and now has three consecutive CrossFit Games wins to her name – 2017, 2018, and 2019. She is now the one to beat and is sure to train as hard as possible to hold on to her title.
Follow the WODs
Each day, a new WOD is released on the CrossFit website. CrossFitters from around the globe are invited to have a go, Rx'd or scaled, and post their results in the forum. Some WODs are for time, some for reps, some for rounds. The beauty of CrossFit is how varied the workouts are and you never know what you're going to get. You have to be ready for anything, from a heavy lifting session to a gruelling run, which is why it conditions your fitness so well. Have a go at any of the WODs that are published and compare your results to others so you can see where you stand.
The biggest WODs in the CrossFit arsenal are the Hero Workouts. Each workout is named after a member of the armed forces who died in combat and they are always notoriously tough workouts. Some of the most renowned are Murph, DT, and Fran, with true enthusiasts marking their territory by asking newbies "What's your Fran time?" All this means is how long did it take you to complete this particular workout. All of the Hero Workouts can be found on the CrossFit website and traditionally one is always completed on Memorial Day in the US.
The CrossFit Games
The CrossFit Games are the pinnacle of the CrossFit year. Held every August in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, the games showcase the best of the best and pit the top athletes from around the world against one another to claim the title of Fittest On Earth.
The CrossFit Games have various unique aspects which set them apart from other annual sporting events (such as the Tour de France for cycling or Wimbledon for tennis). First, the events for the games are only announced that day and none of the athletes know what to expect. This keeps the element of surprise and means that athletes have to train everything and stay well-rounded rather than knowing what events are going to be included and only training for them. It also means that the events are more fair as some athletes are better at heavy lifting, some better at cardio, and some better at gymnastics.
Another unique aspect of CrossFit (which we love) is that in many events the men and women compete together. In some cases, the women beat the men, proving that women are equal to men in physical capability. Events like the Tour de France which do not even have a female version could take note. For example, in the 2019 CrossFit Games, individual event 9 was a swim-paddle consisting of a 1,000m swim followed by a 1,000m paddle. Ten men and ten women took part and the overall winner was a woman, Tia-Clair Toomey, who beat all 10 of the fittest men on earth in this particular event.
So you want to try CrossFit
CrossFit can get a bad rap by some people, usually bodybuilders who have never tried a CrossFit WOD and don't understand what it's all about and just follow what other people say. CrossFit is an awesome sport as it is totally inclusive and everyone encourages one another to succeed. It is open to anyone and you could even be the next champion if you work hard enough.
So, get started! Study the WODs, learn the lingo, watch the Games, and get involved. You will be amazed at how fun it is and how incredibly fit you will get in a short amount of time. Have fun!
Many people think that shelling out a reasonable amount of money for a gym membership could push them to get in shape. Most of the time, people who want to shed off some weight hope that this could be enough reason to go on a regular gym visit. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try to stick to your fitness goals and routines, you suddenly become sluggish and unmotivated.
Aside from locking in your gym membership for a year, fortunately, there are tons of other reasons to look at to stay motivated. Whether you are about to look for the “right gym” near you or you just simply need to keep yourself driven, below are some tips from personal trainers and fitness coaches on how you can maximize your gym membership. Remember that you pay a certain premium for its services so make sure that you make the best use of them!
Choosing the right gym
Check the amenities
If you are the kind of person who easily gets bored using the treadmill or riding a stationary bike, you must take into consideration the variety of machines and the number of classes. Some people prefer variety rather than sticking to a particular routine to stay motivated. But if you are a person who just wants to swing by to the gym to sweat out for thirty minutes to a maximum of one hour, a smaller gym may work for you. If you have a child, opt for a gym that offers an on-site childcare service.
Go for a gym that’s conveniently located near you
A gym’s location is very important to those who always skip gym day because they are pressed for time and don’t want to travel much longer. Choose a gym near your office if you plan to work out during your lunch break or after work. If you prefer to work out in the morning before heading to the office or at the weekend, a gym that is near your home is the best choice. Staying within three to five miles of your chosen gym location is highly suggested by personal trainers and coaches.
Take note of the gym’s operating hours
If you plan to exercise at the same time each visit, join somewhere that has limited hours. Joining this kind of facility will also save you a few bucks compared to joining a twenty-four-hour gym. The twenty-four-hour gym or the ones that have longer operating hours are only ideal for those whose schedule is scattered or working on a night shift.
Review your contract
Upon your first visit to the gym, make sure to get a copy of your contract first. Before signing the contract and deciding if it is the right gym for you based on your preferences and needs, you need to review all the terms and conditions including rates and use of amenities.
At the gym
Maximize your free personal training sessions
A free one-on-one training session with a personal trainer is usually included in today’s gym subscriptions. Take advantage of these perks as it helps you maximize your gym membership. This usually includes a fitness evaluation and a tailored-fit workout routine recommended by the personal trainer. Ask as many questions as you can because this is the time you will get to familiarize yourself with the proper techniques and the use of each machine.
Take advantage of the equipment
Plain and simple, using the same equipment each visit will probably bore you and will make you sluggish. Get off that treadmill and try using a different machine. Ask your personal trainer which equipment you can use aside from the one that you are currently using. Besides, trying different machines targets various muscle groups which results in a more holistic workout.
Let’s admit it, it is more exciting to plunge into a workout if you have a gym buddy. Joining group fitness classes like Pilates, yoga, or spinning opens an opportunity to meet new friends. If this is your first time to attend such classes, don’t get intimidated! You will soon get the hang of it and keep in mind that everyone started as beginners. All you have to do is check the class schedule, sign up, and fit to a class that best suits your busy lifestyle.
Don’t skip a visit and don’t quit
As advised by personal trainers, make exercise a part of your everyday routine. Make it your habit until it becomes part of your lifestyle. Do not let several days go by without swinging by the gym and sweating off all your stress and unwanted pounds. Going to the gym makes you healthy physically, mentally and emotionally so make the most out of your gym membership! Besides, it is exciting to see results both from your perseverance and hard-earned money.
About the author: Bec Lim has worked in the fitness industry for the past 7 years. As a mother of a young child, she understands how difficult it is to get the gym and how important it is to feel good about yourself.
Whether you are a competitive athlete or a recreational sports enthusiast, it’s imperative to fuel your body appropriately. We’ve all read articles about consuming enough protein for muscle growth and repair, eating enough carbohydrates to fuel our training, and choosing drinks with added electrolytes to stay hydrated. What we often neglect to consider is the impact that our diet is having on the planet and how we can eat a more sustainable diet whilst not impacting our performance.
The food we eat contributes to around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions globally and if we don’t take action this figure will continue to grow. To help tackle this issue I have put together my top ten tips for eating your way to sustainability whilst still maintaining the golden ‘rules’ of what an athlete needs to consume in order to perform.
Moderate animal produce
Animal foods have a much larger carbon and water footprint than plant foods. In today’s modern agriculture, we grow plants to feed animals which are inefficient converters of plant matter into food. By cutting out the animals and eating those plants directly we can dramatically reduce our carbon footprint.
You don’t have to take the pledge of veganism to do your part for the environment. Try and make some simple swaps to plant based meat and dairy alternatives which are packed with protein and fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. Whether you opt for meatless Mondays or choose to have one plant-based meal each day, every little will help!
Locally source seasonal fruit and vegetables
Foods that travel long distances have a high environmental impact. Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables from your local market can help to lower your carbon footprint whilst contributing to your local economy. If you can’t live without certain foods in their off season, opt for preserved foods that are lightly processed. Canned and frozen fruit and vegetables are more sustainable than the produce grown in a heated greenhouse or shipped in from another country.
Waste less food
The average household wastes around 30% of the food it buys. A vast number of resources are used to produce food that is never eaten- soil, water fossil fuels, crop inputs.
Food waste occurs at a consumer level and so we can really make a difference by cutting back our waste by:
- Planning out your meals for the week and only buying the produce that you need.
- Freezing items like bread to make them last longer.
- Thinking of creative culinary ways to use up unwanted vegetables that would otherwise be chucked in the bin- use the leaves and stems for mixed salads, the off cuttings to make stock, and the wilted items to make hot pots.
- Use dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Buy food that meets a credible certified standard
It’s important that we start to become more aware of what is on the packaging of the food we consume. There are various logos you can look out for to ensure that the food is sourced and produced in a sustainable way.
Next time you shop, look out for the following logos:
- Fairtrade, which protects farmers and workers in developing countries.
- Freedom food, which protects animal welfare.
- MSC and ASC, which ensures sustainable seaweed production.
- RSPO, which guarantees that the standard of palm oil production is sustainable.
Avoid Highly Processed Food
The more steps involved in food production, the higher the carbon emissions due to the transportation, manufacturing, and distribution involved. A sports nutrition bar or powder with a long list of ingredients is highly processed and therefore has a high carbon footprint, compared to a handful of nuts or piece or fruit which comes from one food source with minimal processing.
Try these real food swaps to replace your favourite sports supplements:
Raisins instead of sports jellybeans
A more natural way to get your carbs in during moderate to high intensity exercise.
Homemade rice cakes instead of sports gels
White rice is high in fibre and calories for both during and immediately after training.
Chocolate milk instead of recovery sport shakes
Providing water and sodium to rehydrate, carbohydrate to refuel, and protein to repair damaged muscle fibres.
Beet juice instead of nitric oxide
Naturally high in nitrates which have been suggested to increase blood flow to your heart and muscles.
Coffee instead of a pre-workout formula
Packed full of caffeine, coffee can increase endurance performance by an average of 26%.
Buy organic foods
Organic food regulations significantly limit the synthetic pesticides that can be used in crop production which supports more sustainable soil practices; such as the use of cover crops, composting and manures.
Look out for organic food swaps on your next grocery shop, you’ll be surprised how affordable they actually are.
Reduce food packaging
Packaging can make a huge impact on sustainability, as it can fill up landfills. Fruit and vegetables have a natural wrapping and do not need to be encased in plastic. Companies are now wising up to the need for packaging modification to help combat our waste problem.
Choose to buy loose fruit and vegetables and look for brands that have the least amount of packaging to help reduce the waste that goes into landfill.
Limit your number of food shopping trips
Travelling to buy groceries is very impactful in the number of miles food travels to get to your plate.
Try to limit the number of trips you make and condense your food travel trips to reduce your travelling carbon emissions. For example, if you’re headed to the farmers market, do all your food-related trips in that nearby location for the week.
Grow some of your own food
The most sustainable way to obtain food is to grow it yourself as there are no food miles involved, no packaging, and no use of fossil fuels.
Even if you start with just one herb pot on your patio and progress overtime, that’s one thing you don’t have to buy on your supermarket shop.
Initiate conversations about sustainable eating
Perhaps one of the most important things we can all do is start conversations about the importance of sustainable eating. By sharing experiences, knowledge, and resources we can begin to foster a much more sustainable attitude towards food consumption.
Whilst we proceed with training and live our busy lives, it is very easy to forget that the food we eat has a huge impact on local communities and businesses, individual farmers, and the environment. It’s imperative that we all take a step back and start to consider how our diet is impacting the environmental, social, and economic concerns.
Do your part to support a greener, healthier and fairer future for our world, and start your journey to a more sustainable diet.
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this blog, look out for next month’s edition of this blog series on how you can be a sustainable athlete.
About the author: Laura Smith is an accomplished athlete and university graduate. She has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Do you find that you’re completely incapacitated after your workout and can’t train again for a good few days? One of the worst parts of doing a tough workout is feeling rotten the following day. Even worse is picking up an injury due to not recovering properly and overtraining. Check out these 6 ways to recover better so that you can make the most of your sessions without paying for it the next day.
Eat more protein
If you are an endurance athlete like a triathlete, cyclist, or runner, you will know how important carbohydrates are to your diet. However, are you eating enough protein? A lot of people are aware that you can consume too much protein and that this can lead to weight gain, but many people don’t actually consume enough.
Protein is vital for building and repairing your muscles and by timing your nutrients correctly, you can maximise your recovery. Try adding a hit of protein to your post-workout meal or snack to reduce DOMS in your legs and optimise the recovery process.
Eat more carbs
On the flip side, if your training involves more weight training, you are probably already consuming plenty of protein but perhaps ignoring your carb needs. It is widely accepted that bodybuilders and even powerlifters don’t need as many carbs and live on a high protein, high fat diet instead. This allows the athlete to cut body fat while still increasing strength. However, carbohydrates are still important and can aid in the recovery process just like protein. By taking simple sugars on board during a particularly tough workout, you will replenish your glycogen stores and not only improve your performance during training, but also shorten your recovery period so that you can train more often.
Stretch and foam roll daily
This is the one we all take for granted. It’s very important to make time in your daily routine for at least 10 minutes of stretching and foam rolling every day. Stretching has many benefits including improving flexibility, balance, and reducing stress, but it also reduces your risks of developing an injury. Exercise and sitting at a desk all day shortens the muscles, and tight muscles are more likely to get injured. Stretching will reduce the stiffness in the muscles that you experience when you are achy and it will prevent you from aching while you exercise. For example, if your hips ache when you run, stretching your hip flexors will help this greatly.
Take complete rest days
If you’re on a roll, it can be tempting to skip rest days and keep the momentum going. However, overtraining has many risks associated with it and your rest days are just as important as your training days. Make sure you have at least 1 or 2 days per week dedicated to relaxing and letting your body recover so that you can bounce back better than ever for your next training session.
Be more consistent
If you are a weekend warrior or you are inconsistent with your workouts, you will find it harder to recover. Every time you skip a few workouts, you are almost going back to square one and will lose some of the progress you have worked so hard to gain. By training consistently, your body will become more accustomed to working hard and your recovery times will reduce. Not only will your muscles recover quicker, but so will your heart and lungs, which means getting your breath back quicker and getting back to a steady heart rate quicker too. Try to train consistently by not skipping workouts and increasing your workload gradually so that your body has time to adapt.
Improve your sleep routine
Sleep is the one element of recovery that many people tend to take for granted. Did you know that when you exercise, you are actually breaking your body down, and it is only when you eat and sleep that your cells recover and you end up fitter and stronger than before? Sleep is vital for proper recovery and getting your 8+ hours of good quality sleep will be the difference between taking a week to recover and being able to get back out there the very next day.