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?