When you first begin training, after much thought, preparation, and finally execution, you find it rather difficult to maintain consistency in your training. This is perfectly natural as more than likely, you had not trained in quite a period of time, if ever, and this is your body’s natural response to such stimulus, soreness.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is most prevalent in the beginning, especially for those just beginning any form of training whatsoever. DOMS can present itself at any point in your training, though, as your body will adapt to certain stimuli and training, forcing you to innovate your training, of which DOMS will rear its ugly head yet again as your body recovers from the microtears you have made to your muscles. Microtears are not bad, they are exactly what you need when you are training. Microtears are where you break down the muscles to the point they tear due to excess force or lengthening. These microtears then trigger the body to begin protein synthesis to repair these torn muscles, leading to more muscle fiber being encased around the older muscle fiber to allot for more strain before the muscle tears again. Unfortunately, this is where soreness does indeed stem, and DOMS is often the victor in most people’s initial training sessions where they become too sore to want to train again, foregoing any further training sessions.
If only they had the forethought and/or knowledge that DOMS only lasts for a brief period, relatively, and that there is always other parts of the body that can be trained. An expert trainer will know this of which should be able to cater the workout based upon where you are the most severely sore to which you would not train that area again for at least another 24 hours.
The most effective method of overcoming DOMS is to know your body’s limits, to be able to brush right up against them, then slightly edge over these limits to maintain the body’s natural response to repair anything damaged. Also, a well-structured training program will take into account the DOMS that will be present at times even days after the initial workout, such as two or three days after a Squat workout, which will allow you to be able to train more consistently without risking further harm to your body. Furthermore, stretching after a workout can aid in reducing DOMS as stretching will allow for the muscles to be lengthened again, returning to a period of homeostasis, the natural state muscles desire to rest. Stretching will also aid in ensuring the prevention of muscles knotting on themselves, leading to pain in the future if not moderated.
DOMS and stretching are only in the first stage of training, often the hardest stage for most people, but there remain three other stages.
Consistency is one of the most, if not the most, important aspects of training. Without consistency, all progression within a training program is for naught. Imagine this scenario, perhaps you have even experienced it yourself: You have religiously gone to the gym, attended all your training sessions, even gone to the gym not during your sessions to exemplify your results. You bought all new workout gear, new shoes, new bottle, protein powder, the works. You are feeling great about yourself. You achieved some of your goals such as lifting more, weight less, running further, hitting harder. You have even received numerous compliments due to the work that you have been putting in at the gym. But then, you stop going. All of your accomplished goals become goals to accomplish once again. The compliments stop. The new workout gear is no longer new or fresh. The protein powder sits idle. Your body sits idle. You begin feeling less great about yourself. You no longer attend the training sessions or go to the gym. For various reasons, you have broken your consistency. This was a rather severe case as for someone to stop going to the gym so unexpectedly, a dire event must have transpired.
Imagine this similar situation: Similar to the beginning of the scenario above, but then the ending is changed as because you are feeling so good about yourself, you feel you do not need to go to the next training session or go to the gym because you have put in so much good work. You begin skipping workouts and your results plummet. You have broken consistency.
Consistency allows the body to consistently be able to repair itself throughout a training program. Consistency will consistently train the body to be able to adapt to the stimuli you have placed upon it, able to become stronger, faster, more agile, more flexible, depending on the goals of the individual. If you break consistency, yes, your results will hold for some time, but cardiovascular training tends to lose its conditioning after just a week, maybe less. Resistance training loses its conditioning after two or three weeks, maybe less. Fusion of resistance and cardiovascular training may be able to hold its conditioning for a month, but inevitably, your results will decay because you broke consistency.
As described above, when you break consistency, you enter a period of hiatus, a break in training. A hiatus implies that at some point you will return to training or return to whatever it was that you broke from. A hiatus in training implies that you have broken consistency to the point that your body has now begun to show signs of atrophy, loss of muscle mass, lethargy, loss of energy levels, or even depression, as the lack of endorphins and adrenaline coursing through your body that training had once allowed to be present, has decreased significantly.
Most of the negatives of a training hiatus are obvious, weight gain, regression, strength loss, etc., but other negatives of a training hiatus are not so obvious. One in particular is when you begin to genuinely miss training. You feel bored, antsy, and that you never seem to be able to get enough sleep, if you can sleep at all. Training has a tendency to affect the body in a rather positive manner as our bodies crave activity, our bodies desperately want to move, to be free from the cumbersome effects of a desk and chair that has become the societal norms. This desire for activity stems from our ancestors whom were always moving nearly all day, every day. Training gives our bodies a chance to resume its natural process, boosting our immune system, increasing our metabolism, and aiding in gaining intelligence.
When you take a hiatus from training, your body is forced to take a hiatus from its normal function, or the normal function that it has adapted when you were training. This hiatus can be dreadful for you, especially if you are the kind of person that always needs to be moving, becomes restless easily, or experiences cabin fever quickly. A hiatus in training causes great boredom in these kinds of people, but in others, a person will genuinely come to miss training; a great want then comes over them to want to return to training. Eventually, this want becomes great enough to become a need.
When this want to train again becomes so great it consumes nearly all thought, you will dive head-first back into the very same routine or program that you had before you entered the hiatus. This will cause DOMS to resurface quickly and more compounded than when you initially began the program. DOMS will return more severely because your body has regressed to the point it was before you began training, and you attempted to train your body as when it was conditioned just before you broke consistency. This is normal for many people out there, though, so do not be alarmed.
The safest method of returning to training is to drop your level of training to a lower level so that your body is not as shocked. Your body will adapt quickly however, possibly quicker than when you initially began training. This lower level of training for your unconditioned body will soon become too easy, allowing you the opportunity to raise your level yet again. Soon, you will condition your body back to where it was before you took a hiatus, allowing you to raise your level yet again. Progression is a staple principle of training for without it, you do not increase strength, stamina, nor obtain new results or achieve new goals.
Progression is a principle of training closely linked with maintenance of your body, of your training. Progression and maintenance work hand in hand as to maintain the condition of your body, you must be willing to progress when your body tells you that it is ready to progress, allowing for more results to be obtained, more goals to be achieved. This final stage of training is the longest to completely enter as it requires a long, arduous journey of self-empowerment along with strong will-power, but it is indeed the most beneficial, exciting, and fulfilling stage as it shows that you have excelled past your previous self to encounter the newest version of yourself, a being of strength, competency, and determination.
DOMS and stretching, consistency not intensity, hiatus and resurrection, and progression and maintenance.
The Stages of Training.
We all fail sometimes, so why not try again?
Everyone desires to have incredible abs, whether that be incredibly cut, distinct, easily recognizable partitioned muscles or merely a flat, smooth, stream-lined torso that easily corrupts even the most innocent of imaginations, everyone loves abs!
Unfortunately, abs are some of the most difficult muscle groups to define or build easily because, as your calves are difficult to sculpt because you use them every time you take a step, your abs are difficult to sculpt as you use them on a daily basis to hold yourself erect and breathe. Abs are also difficult to mold as they are a large muscle group interconnected with one another, offering rapid recovery as well as the need for more exercises and reps to specifically target the abdominals. Most unfortunately though, abs are difficult to obtain because your belly has a tendency to store excess fat, causing the appearance of a rounded belly rather than flat or muscular.
There are three major muscles to the abdominals with the rectus abdominis (the six pack muscles), the obliques (the v-cut), and the transversus abdominis (a lateral muscle that bands across the midsection deep within the body) comprising the abdominals.
The rectus abdominis are the six-pack muscles, the muscles that everyone thinks of when they think of abs, the deep ridges, the washboard. These are the muscles that perform a simple function of maintaining your bodily posture, keeping you standing or sitting straight. These muscles work in accordance with the lower back muscles, the erector spinae, to maintain your posture no matter what you are doing. The rectus abdominis are much more than merely photographic deliciousness.
The obliques are the v-cut, the deep lines on the sides of your torso, the muscles people do not normally think of when they think of abs, but are no less important. Obliques functions as support for the rectus abdominis and erector spinae, aiding in maintaining posture, but are primarily used during rotating actions such as cartwheeling, bending to the side, and carrying loads on one side of your body.
The transversus abdominis is a muscle that is rarely thought about, but is actually the master behind all of the abdominal movements and functions. The transverus abdominis traverses the entire midsection of the body, connecting the rectus abdominis and obliques, allowing for even more power and support to be generated by the outer muscles when utilizing the inner transversus abdominis. The transversus abdominus lies within the body underneath the rectus abdominis and obliques, unable to be seen easily as it is not a superficial muscle. However, the transversus abdominis gives rise to even more posture and structure support, working in accordance with the rectus abdominis, obliques, and erector spinae in all action during the course of a day.
Training the three pillars of the abdominals is a relatively easy task, especially for two of the three, but unfortunately, one pillar is more moderately difficult. Regardless of fat that is deposited over the abdominals, the muscles still exist providing structural support to the body, which means they can be trained just as any other muscle that has fat deposited outside of it.
The rectus abdominis can be easily trained with such exercises as the common (though drastically ineffective) situps, leg raises, farmer's walks, hollow body hold, and plank to name a few. The obliques can be trained simply with such exercises as side bends, oblique crunch, Russian twists, farmer's walks, and side plank. The transversus abdominis, however, require a rather broader repertoire of exercises such as dead bug, plank, windmills, farmer's walks, Russian twists, and even hollow body holds.
Notice that Farmer's Walks can be utilized to train all three pillars as they require all three pillars to engage and fire to be able to perform the exercise. Farmer's Walks are the King of All Abdominal Exercises, at least in my opinion, for they can easily be progressed or regressed as they utilize weight to be able to be executed, of which one can hold more weight or less weight depending on strength levels. Farmer's Walks can be varied as well as using one or two dumbbells, one or two barbells, or even bars dedicated specifically to Farmer's Walks.
Farmer's Walks are an incredible ab exercise because it challenges core stability the most effectively, especially when utilizing a single dumbbell or barbell to perform the exercise as it will challenge one part of the body more than the other, but also engage the opposite side in an antagonist role, which in effect trains the deeper transversus abdominus. An entire ab workout could be comprised of just Farmer's Walks or even Farmer Holds (where you do not walk, but instead stand fully erect and still), but at the very least, Farmer's Variants should be incorporated into every ab workout.
The three pillars can be trained either together or separately, meaning on different days or on the same day. They can be trained as any other muscle meaning you can train one pillar on one day, then another on a second, and the third on the third day. Keep in mind, though, that due to the fact that they are all interconnected, recovery time will be quick, provoking more work or more creative exercises to be created.
A sample workout would be Farmer's Walks 4 x 20 yards, per side, Side Bends 4 x 10, per side, Leg Raises (or Full Circles, where you bring your legs in a wide circle as you are lying down) 4 x 10, 5 per side, and Weighted Surrender Situps (the fact that you only go to your lower back significantly targets the transversus abdominis).
I hope that possibly I have answered any questions you may have had about the abdominals, how they work, where they are on the body, what trains them effectively. Any comment or question is welcomed. Remember, you can always the 10XCircuit team directly through email, Facebook message, or Instagram direct message for any questions or concerned.
So you have started a new workout regimen, one that you thoroughly enjoy. You go to the gym for every training session, even following the advice and guidance of your trainer perfectly of going to the gym even when it is not your session to amplify the full effect of your workout. You are feeling confident in yourself, feeling healthier, feeling you appear leaner, stronger.
But then comes vacation. Or a holiday. Or some unforeseen unfortunate circumstance that rocks you to your core, leading to your downfall from training, leaving such a concept in the shadows of the darkest recesses of your mind.
I want to initially state that this is perfectly natural, not even athletes and professional trainers can account for every possible scenario that may arise to hinder their performance or training. The key to remember is that though you have entered into a brief period of hiatus, you must keep it a brief period, and that you can easily jump right back into the old habit with a bit of work, confidence, and encouragement, especially from your inner positive self-talk.
Additionally, even I can lose track of my training due to the very same scenarios as described above, but especially if a relationship abruptly ended for me, the only time I truly am overcome by my emotions to the point I cannot function besides executing the most basic of commands to my body such as driving to work, working, and driving home where I slouch around on the couch. A terrible habit that is easy to fall into one such a travesty occurs. However, the simplest method for me to abruptly change my habits, is to recognize that I am in a depressed state, of which I despise, and change my thinking that I will not fall into any deeper state of depression. I have had experience with depression and mental illness (I once was a mental health technician at a hospital) where I know for many people, it is simply not that easy to merely change one's thinking, but as 10XCircuit's philosophy dictates, we strive to improve not only physical health, but emotional, mental, psychological, and social as well.
When you have finally recognized that you have entered into a sloth-state (a much kinder rhetoric for such a state), as well as instilling in yourself that you will overcome your slothness to become what you want to be, you will find yourself back at the gym, back trying to enter into your old habits, back to trying to be your old self.
But this is not as easy as it appears for backlash and slips will occur. However, consistently instilling in yourself positive self-talk such as, "I can do this. I will do this. I am the manifestation of something greater than myself, given the opportunity to become something greater than myself," you will be able to overcome and conquer more obstacles than you realize.
Time is the panacea to all wounds emotional, mental, and physical. Time and effort will allot you the ability to return to your old habits in training and lifestyle. Consistently work back at what you once had for soon, you will find yourself not only merely back where you were before your hiatus, but even better. At this time, you will be able to look back then think to yourself, "Wow! Look how far I have come!"
One of the biggest deterrents, if not the biggest, of training whether it be bodyweight lifts or weighted resistance training, is the fear of injury. There has been a large belief that bodyweight training is less dangerous that that of its weight training cousin, but in actuality, without proper technique on any lift, one risks becoming injured regardless of if one is bearing an extra load such as weights or bands or just performing bodyweight lifts.
The key to injury prevention lies in knowledge and fitness itself.
Lifting relies primarily on technique to be able to perform the lift. Strength athletes, strong men, bodybuilders, all lift with proper technique to be able to perform such feats as clean and jerking over 400 pounds easily, towing semi-truck, or even squatting repeatedly for a certain number of repetitions. If any of these athletes lacked the technique to perform the event correctly, they could severely injure themselves. These athletes all began as neophytes, wondering as to how to actually lift, how to actually move their body, why certain movements should be conducted in a certain manner.
Technique is a knowledgeable man's best friend.
One needs technique to be able to lift incredible loads, strength plays secondary to technique as even if one has the strength to lift a load, without proper technique, one can either perform the lift incorrectly, risking severe injury, or, more comically and more often, fail to even perform the lift, which would spare the person from injury, more than likely. However, because the risk of injury severely rises with poor or improper technique, strength will take a back seat for now.
Injury prevention lies in knowing exactly how to perform a lift, when to explode during a certain lift, how to move the body during a lift, knowing when to abort the lift. For example, one of the most complicated lifts in training, the clean and jerk, relies upon a full awareness of how the body will react to the moving load. From the initial pull, the weight does not want to move, obeying the laws of gravity, but as you input more force, the weight will leave the ground. At this point, one has essentially performed a deadlift, now power is implemented to be able to drive the weight even higher to be able to catch the weight in a squat-position safely. The next step is to stand with the weight, relying on balance to maintain the weight's equilibrium. After standing, dip and exploding upward will have the weight well over head. Without the knowledge of this, one could easily injure themselves attempting to perform the catch duration of the lift, easily one of the more dangerous part of the lifts. The jerk part of the clean and jerk is also dangerous as it relies on even more balance and force than the catch. However, the clean and jerk has been proven to be able to be executed time and time again for decades. Clearly, knowledge of the proper technique of the lift allows for a low risk movement.
Technique and strength, yin and yang.
Technique and strength are fundamental regarding fitness. Without technique and strength, one's fitness conditioning will not improve. However, without fitness, technique and strength stall or plateau. Fitness is more than a concept or philosophy. It is a religion that must be practiced nearly daily. Fitness allows for one to develop the techniques and strength that is needed to perform ever-more complicated lifts, but one does not need to be the most conditioned athlete to begin. Every one has differing fitness levels, often people remain in the bottom-tiered fitness levels, perfectly content with feeling better about themselves as well as leading healthier lives. This is perfectly natural as there are many levels of fitness in general with bodybuilding, strength athleticism, and power lifting all encompassing the very top tier of fitness. In all of these aspects though rely upon the standard foundation of fitness of the lower tiers, balance, endurance, technique, and knowledge.
Strength will come in due time regarding fitness. Fitness creates strength as one's body adapts to a stressor, the load being lifted, whether the body or resistance. It is just how the body works. The body wants to be challenged, to adapt to something greater. Unfortunately, this can lead to some believing they can attempt an event that is yet out of their capability.
Injury can be moderated to a low risk.
Technique, strength, balance, and endurance encompassing knowledge and fitness allows for one to know how to lift properly in order to be able to train effectively, yet safely. Knowledge and fitness then drastically alter the risk of injury as the more one knows, the more one lifts, the less one will injure themselves. The primary injury prevention is listening to one's body as it will always tell you if it is capable of a certain feat, the basis at which this principle can be applied is instilled through knowledge and fitness.
Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," has inspired as well as captivated generations of poets, authors, and readers. Each person can find a different meaning in the poem with each reading. For myself personally, as obvious, the road less traveled is often the one that will yield the greatest growth for yourself. I believe that is the general consensus of what the poem means as Frost quite nearly tells you this himself.
But look a bit deeper.
I also believe that there is meaning in the fact that the road less traveled by lends itself to allowing you to not only grow for yourself, but also for others. The road less traveled tends to be a lonely endeavor, but allows one to return with a greater aptitude, generally, regarding a certain subject or matter.This aptitude can lend itself to helping others see a different way as well, allowing for an exponential explosion of knowledge and education amongst the masses. This can unfortunately be quite a negative experience as well, however, if for example, the message a person returned with was thought of as evil by a majority of the population but with such a captivating appearance, the masses could not help but follow along blindly... until it was too late.
This brings me to my next point, the point of a bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I recall reading this book in my high school years. A short book that one could read in an hour and a half. I recall thinking that this was an incredible book, one of the first to truly open my eyes to the world around me in how it can be perceived in a different way than the norm, and thus, be changed by such a view for the good.
But, as referenced, look deeper, and watch as blind faith leads to despair...
Recently I chanced upon Jonathan Livingston Seagull yet again online for purchase. I noticed that this edition of the book featured a lost fourth part (the original had just three parts). My interest piqued, I eagerly purchased the book. I read the first three parts yet again as well as the lost fourth part this past holiday season. All I can say is that the fourth part fits the world we are living in much more in-depth than the first three parts. The fourth part describes a flock that once followed a grand thought, freedom, health, religion, and transformed the principles into chains, maladies, and sacrilege as distant from the original positive message that could ever have been.
I felt myself feeling entirely overwhelmed with sadness as my fellow man has seemingly fallen into the fourth part pit of despair where the masses no longer think for themselves, no longer strive to create for themselves. Rather, the masses seemingly wish for everything to remain the same, to remain stagnant. The fourth part shows this led to near civil war amongst the flock, a path that could very well erupt yet again.
But look deeper...
At the very end of the fourth part, I realized with utter glee the beginning of a cycle of which we all seem to be at the bottom end of, with the fact that the supposed myth of the once pure thought returning to help the one eager follower to learn all that can truly be made possible of freedom, health, and religion, thus beginning a resurrection of growth, creativity, and innovation, a part of the cycle we have yet to breach for some time.
With 10XCircuit, I hope to instill in others the fact that strength does not come from biology or genetics. There are all kinds of strength out there, but I do hope to guide those that are lost in the art of fitness as fitness allowed me to find balance within myself. Though I think a certain way, I am always open to learning as another method may be better for a certain event than the method I was always content with utilizing.
10XCircuit I envision to be not just a fitness empire, but a way of life in that people can take with them wherever the venture. I realize that fitness and health does not merely stop at the physical level, but falls well within the realm of capability of the mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels. For myself, fitness was the catalyst that allowed my thoughts to be catapulted into perceiving all the various levels. Fitness allowed me to reign my anger and balance my psyche, as well as allow me the mental prowess of near perfect recall, and even the ability to perceive the primary religions as promoting a similar message.
I hope to be a guide through tumultuous events that rock you to your core. I wish to be the one that instills confidence within you even during arduous tasks. I desire that the 10X philosophy of strength within stays with you so that even in the most perilous of circumstances, you find the strength to be able to persevere and conquer.
Because, after all, to find inner peace, you must look within... deeper.