Does Muscle Soreness Mean You Had a Good Workout?

The question: I went to the gym yesterday and now I have sore muscles. That means I had a great workout, right?

The expert: Josh Feldman, a certified personal trainer and fitness manager at Crunch Fitness in New York City

The answer: Not really. While working your muscles until they’re achy means you technically did tax your muscles, which helps them get stronger, it’s actually not beneficial work in the long run.

The reason? Pushing it to the max one day means you’re going to be too sore to hit the gym the next day, or the day after that. And that’s a serious issue, because consistency is the ultimate goal here. “It’s way more important to be able to exercise every day or every other day than to just kill it one day and not be able to move for four or five days after that,” explains Feldman.

In other words, it all comes down to the basic fact that moving more often is better for you than going all gung-ho for a bit, and then proceeding to kick it on the couch while muttering all sorts of FML, dear-muscles-I-hate-you lines. “You can’t just say, ‘I went hard a few days ago so I’ve done my time for the week,’ because your muscles don’t operate like that. They respond better when they’re being constantly worked—that prevents them from becoming weak and inactive,” Feldman continues.

So how can you tell when you’re about to overdo it? Well, if you start shaking or twitching during your reps, that’s a sure sign that you’re going to feel it big time tomorrow—so do yourself a favor and step awaaay from the weights. But even something as simple as feeling more tired halfway through your second set than you did at the end of the first means it’s time to stop, too.

Your sore-muscle Rx, then, is this: As soon as you start feeling noticeably exhausted, end the session. “That way, you’ll be able to come back the next day or the day after and therefore keep the muscles moving more consistently overall,” concludes Feldman.

PUBLISHED: NOVEMBER 19, 2013  |  BY ANNIE DALY

Women’s Health Magazine

3 Ways to Train Harder on a Treadmill

iStock/Thinkstock

It might be best known as a warm-up, a cool down, or a last resort when all of the ellipticals are taken, but thetreadmill is making a comeback: In fact, the machines account for nearly 60 percent of annual home fitness equipment sales, according to the most recent data from the National Sporting Goods Association. And a few trendy gyms are getting in on the action with group treadmill classes like Tread and Shred at Equinox and Tread Bootcamp at Crunch Gyms.

Here’s why you might want to give this throwback another go: Treadmills allow you to customize your workout, speed, and terrain in a way that just isn’t possible on a trail, says Jessica Matthews, M.S. an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). With a few buttons you can switch it up and challenge your body in new ways—which makes it an essential tool for staying fit. What’s more, treadmills tend to calculate the number of calories you burn with more precision than other machines like the elliptical, says Matthews. To see those numbers soar, check out Matthews’s tricks for dominating your next treadmill workout:

Shake Up Your Warm-Up
A standard treadmill warm-up lasts five minutes. The thing is, walking briskly can get boring fast. To challenge yourself from the get-go, open up your hips, and (bonus!) target your inner thigh muscles, alternate between walking forward, backward, and sideways.
Try it: For a five-minute warm-up, begin walking at a very low speed (1.5 to 2 miles per hour) and alternate between walking forward, walking backward, and walking sideways, switching your lead leg each time. Do each variation for 30 seconds to one minute. Then repeat the sequence three to four times.

Opt for Intervals
If you just jog at a steady pace without an incline, you’re not going to see huge results—even if you stick with it for an hour. A better bet: Interval training. “It provides a time-efficient, highly-effective workout experience, enabling people to burn more calories in less time,” says Matthews. You can do this by either changing the speed or the incline during different segments of your workout. (Note: Beginners should adjust only one variable at a time.)
Try it: For a 15-minute workout, first warm up at a brisk pace (about 4 mph) for five minutes. Then, increase your speed to about 6 mph (or faster, if you’re comfortable) for 20 seconds. Next, reduce the speed to 4.5 mph for 40 seconds, and continue to alternate between fast and slow intervals for a total of five minutes before you cool down for five minutes.

Head for the Hills
You can fake a hilly hiking trip with a simple treadmill trick: Just tweak the incline. The best part: You’ll strengthen and sculpt your lower body while boosting your calorie burn, says Matthews.
Try it: Complete a five-minute warm-up at 4 mph a two-percent incline. Then, increase the speed until you’re jogging at about 5 mph at an incline of four percent for a full minute. Next, add a two-percent incline every minute until you’re at the max—usually 10 percent. Then, reduce the incline by two percent every minute until you’re back to a two-percent incline. Reduce your speed to 3.5 mph and cool down for three minutes. 

The Best Way to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness

When you add an extra mile onto your run or decide to lift the heavier weights, you expect to feel the burn the next day—but your post-workout recovery doesn’t have to be so painful: Drinking watermelon juice can help minimize soreness after a workout, according to a new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

For the study, researchers recruited seven men and had them complete a cycling routine on three different days. On two of the days, they were instructed to drink watermelon juice an hour before working out. On the third day, they had a pink-colored placebo drink prior to hitting the gym.

Twenty-four hours after the exercises, many of the participants reported having sore muscles—but they said they felt significantly less achy on the days after they had consumed the watermelon juice.

How does watermelon juice reduce soreness? It contains an amino acid called L-citrulline, which boosts blood flow—so drinking it may help your muscles get more oxygen, which means they can repair themselves faster, says study author Encarna Aguayo, PhD, associate professor of food technology at the Technical University of Cartagena.

Thirsty yet? Throw watermelon chunks into a blender to create a DIY juice, or add some to your go-to smoothie. For best results, aim to get a little more than two cups of watermelon juice before your most intense workouts (that’s how much the study participants drank).

photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Published on August 7th, 2013

Weight Loss Tips To Keep You Going

Measure your steps and reps:  Start with small goals to be able to work yourself up to  doing each exercise until failure…meaning until you just can’t do it anymore!
Seek alternative energy:  Before grabbing a snack for an energy boost, do a mental check on if you’re stressed, low on sleep or thirsty.  Then try to grab a snack that is low on calories, higher in fiber to keep you fuller longer.

Excuse proof your workout: Here are a few exercises that require no equipment, so you can do them ANYWHERE!

  1. Bridge: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor.  Lift hips up so that your body forms a straight line between shoulders and knees.  Lower and repeat.
  2. Burpee:  Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, arms by sides.  Lower into a squat and place palms on floor in front of feet.  Jump feet back into full push up position.  Jump feet towards hands and then jump up immediately, extending hands over head.  Repeat.
  3. Three-Legged Plank: Begin on the floor in a full push up position (wrists below shoulders, arms extended and toes tucked under)  Lift right arm forward, hold for a count of three and return hand to floor.  Repeat with left arm, then lift right leg and left leg.

Count to three:  Follow a three bite rule for anything that isn’t a vegetable.  Because the first and last bites are always the most satisfying, you don’t miss the bites in between.

FITNESS MAGAZINE JANUARY 2012

HOW TO WIN AT LOSING

Here are some secrets from the Biggest Loser Couples winner Olivia Ward and her sister-teammate Hannah Curlee …
Secret #1 You deserve to be in great shape.  The first step in dropping the weight is realizing that you don’t like where are and know that you deserve to fix it.

Secret #2 Stop being so hard on yourself. Believing that you can do something will make you actually do it!

Secret #3 You don’t have to spend hours in the gym.  Try to find one favorite workout and squeeze that in daily (kickboxing class, spinning, yoga, Zumba)

Secret #4 Eat more, not less.  Start each day with a proper breakfast.  Ditch the deprivation diet and never let yourself get to the point where you’re famished with no healthy food around.  Carry a healthy snack with you at all times for that just in case moment.

Secret #5  Ask for what you want.  When eating out speak up for how you want your food prepared (hold the dressing, half the cheese)

Secret #6  Do the write thing.  Keeping a journal of everything that is going on while you’re losing weight is a great way to stay focused.  This way you can also go back and look at the entries to see what whet right and what went wrong.

FITNESS MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2011