Fitness

Fighting Fit: Build Muscle without Pain

When you are aiming for perfection, size really does matter in the world of body building, but going heavy on bench presses, dead lifts, and squats could leave you with more pains than gains, especially if you do not warm up correctly.

For many weight lifters, post-workout soreness is a sign of success, after all, muscle damage contributes to muscle hypertrophy (an increase in muscle mass), and that leads to bigger biceps, larger quads, and a six pack that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of, but if you have ever experienced DOMS, you may wish you had gone a little lighter on those powerlifts and been less enthusiastic with the dumbbells.

DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Weight lifting injuries such as pulls and tears are common, but many can be treated successfully with just a few days’ rest and prescription pain medicines such as codeine. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), on the other hand,is a very serious and painful condition that could dramatically affect every aspect of your training plan.

Unlike regular muscle soreness that appears immediately after lifting a heavy weight and eases within a few hours, DOMS occurs post-exercise, with most body builders experiencing pain between six and seventy-two hours after a heavy workout.

DOMS can occur anywhere in the body, and it is believed to be caused by micro-traumas in muscle fibres, which can lead to acute pain that could last for weeks, even months.  While some lifters see this pain as a sign of progression and muscle growth, others find that it restricts the intensity of their workouts, slows down muscle gain, and lengthens the recovery period after each brutal gym session, and so as with all pain related conditions, DOMS prevention is most definitely better than cure.

Simple Strategies for a Pain-Proof Workout

Avoiding delayed onset muscle soreness is relatively simple, and with a well-defined workout strategy, it is possible to gain without pain, and achieve the body you have always dreamed of.

  1. Warm Up

No matter how short you are on time, you should always dedicate at least 10 minutes of your training session to warming up.  This should include 5 minutes of cardiovascular activities such as cycling, running, or using an elliptical machine, and a further 5 minutes for stretching, which will loosen the muscles, improve blood flow, and elevate the heart rate so that the body is ready to work harder.

Many body builders skip the warm up phase, believing that a two-minute walk on the treadmill is sufficient to kick start their workout, but the body is already used to walking, and so it needs a change of pace if it is to prepare for a demanding workout.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Weight lifting may not leave you feeling as parched as high intensity exercise, but your body will still need a significant amount of water to stay nourished and hydrated during your workout.  Muscle cramps are generally caused by dehydration, so remember to drink plenty of water and fluids containing electrolytes in the hours leading up to your next gym session to ensure that your body remains well-oiled and your muscles are lubricated.

  1. Technique

Common muscle injuries are generally caused by poor technique, and while weight lifting is not rocket science, it does require a certain amount of skill. If you want to achieve the perfect body, take the time to learn from your peers, increase your weights sensibly, and listen to your body. Success will come automatically.

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