Feeling it Out

I, quite literally, just had a conversation that inspired this post. I noticed yesterday I pretty much rambled on about nothing. Not really anyway. Today I wish to add a bit more focus to this post. A focus more in line with the idea of “Muscle Talk.”

So, today is my off day. I’ve been doing my workouts for two days on, one day off, two more days on, and two days off. That is the split I discussed in a previous post and I’m sticking with it for now. I haven’t felt completely sapped of my energy and my workouts themselves have been pretty good. Though, admittedly, I did one at 10pm the other night and that pretty much wiped the floor with me. I don’t do well late at night…

Moving on…The title of this post pretty much sums up my topic for today. Feeling it out. What does that mean? Well, it means to, you know, feel it out. Feel your muscles. Feel your soreness. Feel your capacity. Those of us that pursue fitness typically follow a set-in-stone method of workout splits. Not unlike the one I mentioned above. We do our workouts each day as prescribed. We take our rest accordingly. However, and this is what the aforementioned conversation made me think of, what if that doesn’t work for everyone? Obviously not every plan or routine is going to work for every individual. This particular one seems to be working well for me, for now.

My thought, and this is just my own theory, is that our typical stance on how we plan our exercise is somewhat flawed. What if you are a genetic freak? Say you lift 20, 30, even 50 thousand pounds one day and you’re able to do it all over again the next. No pain, no soreness. Do you take a rest day because your plan says so? I don’t think I agree with that. I feel, if you can, perhaps you should. Why not? If your muscles have recovered from the previous workout, I think you should hit them again. When all is said and done, isn’t that the point of resistance training? Keep adding resistance until your muscles adapt to the training load or intensity placed upon them? Pretty much sums it up I think.

So, here’s my point. Today I sit here, again on my off day, and my upper body is still feeling the effects of things done two days ago. I’m set to train the upper body muscle groups again tomorrow. I suspect that I will be mostly recovered and ready to go. I could have gone in the gym and done the upper body work today, but would have only been doing myself a disservice. If the muscles haven’t fully recovered from the last workout you may only be doing irreparable damage in the long run. If you’re not feeling that tell-tale soreness, I say go to it. Crush it! That’s the whole point. If you do any research on advocates of high intensity resistance training, this is pretty much what they discuss. Some of those guys talk about training a particular muscle group once every ten days. Some go even longer. While I don’t think that is a proper method for the beginner, I can definitely see the advantage to the idea. My thought process is similar, but essentially, diametrically opposed. Even if you are technically supposed to take a day off, maybe you don’t actually need to. The program I’m trying to use would, in theory, allow me up to three days of one muscle group and two of the other. There would be no harm in that. If I were feeling no effect from previous training I would have gladly taken on the effort. After all, I feel like a total grump on my off days. Exercise certainly has a mental effect on me.

At the end of all this, there are a few points to keep in mind:

  1. You don’t have to religiously stick to any program. When you start it, it becomes yours. Your body tells you what you can handle.
  2. Feel out what your muscles are telling you. If they’re screaming in agony, maybe take another day to feel it out. If you’re feeling normal and not experiencing any undue soreness, go for it.
  3. Volume and intensity equal gains. The more you can do of either/both, the more you’ll see for results. If you’re not feeling completely incapacitated, why would you want to throw away the opportunity for more gains?

So, FEEL IT OUT! Listen to your body. Do what it tells you. Get in the gym. Get sore for a couple of days. Don’t wait too long in between unless you HAVE to. Keep working at it. Eventually you won’t have to feel it out anymore. You’ll know instinctively. You’ll know exactly what you need to do!

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