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This is a primer on a subject that’s often overlooked by the most hardcore gym rat. Are you listening to what your body is telling you or are you stuck in meathead purgatory? Look I get it, you want to just keep grinding those workouts out because you love to train and feel its what you should do. The gym is your home away from home, your iron therapy, or any other cliché training moniker you can slap in there. I’ve been there and its easy to fall in to. You must ask yourself are you paying attention to all the signs or red flags that may be popping up or are you just “pushing through it.” There is a time for that, no question but more time than not your body is telling you something.
There are so many red flags and things you need to be paying attention to but for the sake of time with this article I’ll go over a few that I believe are very important. Understand these things are very basic because when dealing with the human body this rabbit hole can get real deep real fast. There will be a recurring theme here and that is rest and recovery. That my friends is a whole new topic for another day. But, we will cover it that’s a promise!
The first thing to watch for and I believe most obvious is how does your body feel? Are you still sore 3, 4, maybe 5 days after you trained a muscle group? If so that’s sign number one its time to back off or your nutrition needs adjusting because you are not recovering. Is your body starting to become just achy like a dull pain? Again, time to back off because you are not healing properly. Are your joints starting to hurt or do muscles feel tight, or are being pulled at their base? You guessed it, its time to back off. Your body is injured, even if it’s just the micro tears in the muscle caused by training. Yes, those are necessary for progress in your training but only if they are repairing and recovering. If not, well then you just opened the door to injury and further setting your progress back.
The second to watch for people tend to rationalize and make excuses for but if you truly are paying attention you will notice and that is, is your strength going down? You will not always be the Hulk in the gym tossing around new heavier weights. Some days its just not there on certain lifts or even the whole workout. I’m talking the big picture here, the prolonged picture.
If this is happening on the daily, then there is a problem. Does it feel like your body is struggling on the movement? Is there just no pop or ‘oomph?’ If this is your new normal, then guess what? Its time to back off! You are not just tired or at a plateau your simply not recovering and the muscle fibers are not growing as a result of this. For a person who’s been training for a decent amount of time, I would say one plus years strength gains become slower because you are past the muscle memory phase where everything skyrockets, and you get a new false sense of confidence. Its ok…this is just how the training world works and we have all been there. Strength gains at this point are generated by the muscle tissue being broken down, repairing, and becoming bigger and better to support heavier loads. That being said, if your strength is continuing to decline then you need to give the body a little R and R.
Last sign to watch for is somewhat a mental one. Are you going because you feel you have to? Does it feel like each workout is a grind and a mental struggle to even show up? That’s not lack of motivation, well in some cases maybe but usually its your body trying to whisper sweet nothings to you. Those sweet nothings are simple, “I need a break.” Believe me you are not less of a man or woman, its 2018 I’m not selective. It is simply that everything is taxed and is in dyer need of a break so your body quits pumping that feel good kick of endorphins to get you in the gym cranking away.