I have now heard this opening line so many times, but I am wondering what it really means.
After all do you change the oil in your car before you get it serviced? Do you clean your house before a house cleaner comes? Ever mowed the lawn before the lawn mower comes around? Not really thought to weed the garden before the gardener comes?
So why is it that when it comes to getting fit we hear time and again, “I have to get fit before I do your class/PT session/bootcamp/CrossFit class/go to the gym!”?
I always thought that going any program that is about physical fitness is about getting yourself fitter. Most people that go to a gym or exercise class are average people, not elite athletes; they just want to be fit and healthy.
Now you might undertake a class or a session and feel the next day like you have been run over by a truck. Believe it or not this is not really a bad thing. This is your body responding to a different stimulus. You have made it do something it has never done before and so it’s response is to adapt to that new stimulus. The soreness that comes about is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. When you workout you do microscopic damage to your muscles, you then need to repair that damage, and that is where the soreness comes from. It is just a simple case of your body repairing itself.
You might think that you then have to go back to doing what you were before, as that was not hurting, but if that was lying on the lounge then of course it did not hurt. Now if that was another exercise program that was no longer causing a little discomfort the next day then what has happened is that your body has adapted to what you are doing to it and it no longer has a need to change. Hence where you are is where you will stay. You will not get fitter, you will not lose more weight, you will look the same and you will feel the same. If nothing changes, well, nothing changes.
The biggest part of this is that you have changed exercise programs and that the stimulus is completely different to anything you have ever done before, hence the really intense pain the next day, or 2 days later. It is the same reason that when people finally start digging their vegie garden again in spring they end up hardly able to move for the next 2 or 3 days, they just aren’t used to it. That is why people that dig fence lines for a living are not in constant pain, they are used to what they are exposing their body to. Working out is no different to this.
I have spoken to a lot of people after CrossFit WOD and even seasoned veterans get sore, it is all part of the adaptation to your new body. As I type this my abs are so sore, and the thing is I have not targeted them this week, it is just all the work they have been doing.
So please, when you wake up sore and think “What on earth have they done to me?” don’t think you will go back and do something gentler and that will get you ready for harder work. Just keep going with the hard stuff. It is where the results are and where the most satisfaction comes from.