5 Ways to Overcome the Initial Struggle of Working Out
Get off the Struggle Bus
When you first start a new workout routine, odds are high that you’ll feel a bit sore and fatigued. There's even a chance you might second-guess your decision to start lifting weights or running cardio in the first place!
Of course, this is completely normal - Most bodies and minds take a bit of time to catch up to a new exercise routine and get in the groove.
The bottom line is, don't be defeated if your muscles and joints are more sore than usual after the first few sets, or you have some discouraging thoughts creeping in. You already did the toughest part: Making the decision to work toward real gains or get in the best shape of your life. Next, you just need to stay the course.
To that end, let’s break down 5 strategies for overcoming the tough first stages of working out so you can stick to your workout resolution:
5. Ease Into Your Routine
Fueled by your newfound eagerness, you may find yourself launching into a new workout schedule with stacks of energy and enthusiasm. If that's the case, power to ya!
That being said, it's still wise to resist temptations to jump into your new routine at 150%... Even if you've got plenty of gas in your tank to lift heavy or push yourself hard right out the gate.
For the best chance of maintaining your consistent progress and endurance, ease into your new workout routine by starting off with a slow and manageable regimen. This strategy prevents your muscles from being overloaded, negating the risk of injury or overtaxing your key muscle groups.
New movements and different ways of exerting yourself require a gradual ramp-up; So give your body time to get up to speed and learn how to move efficiently before you incorporate high-intensity exercises into your workout.
4. Take a Guilt-Free Rest Day
Contrary to popular belief, rest days are very necessary if you have any hope of making solid progress, and they're especially important when you're just starting out. Don't be fooled by any gym junkies you see flexing on Instagram 7 days a week - they're skipping the missing piece and likely kidding themselves in the process.
The rest period is where the growth happens, giving your body the time it needs to replenish its energy and repair torn muscle tissues. Be sure to work guilt-free days off into your schedule early on, so you can get into the habit of resting and repairing. For particularly strenuous new workouts, you might even find you need to do one-day-on, one-day-off at first until you hit your stride.
It's best to listen to your body to avoid burnout, so take at least one day off a week so you can come back stronger, recharged and more motivated on your rise and grind days.
3. Catch Plenty of Zzzz's
Ample sleep is crucial when you're working out, as it supports your body with functions that not only replenish your energy stores, but actually improve your results.
For starters, you'll be working out lots of muscle groups when you begin a new program, and with this exertion comes the tearing of muscle fibers. As you sleep, your body goes to work knitting new proteins in amongst your torn muscles. This essential process is what lays down bulk, repairs the damage, and helps you get stacked.
Additionally, you'll need your body to secrete plenty of HGH (human growth hormone) to speed up your muscle repair, burn fat and kick your metabolism along, and sufficient sleep helps this process.
In the early stages, be sure to get a full night’s rest consistently so your body doesn’t suffer unnecessarily.
2. Ice It, Baby
Muscle aches and joint pain might be nagging you in the hours and days after working out, and generally they're a result of inflammation. Rest assured, a bit of pain is completely normal when you're using muscles in ways you haven't worked them before, and inflammation is your body's natural response to trauma. It's all part of the healing process, so provided you haven't caused a sprain or serious injury, you'll find fast relief through cold exposure.
A great way to shake off aches, pains and fatigue is to take a 2 minute cold plunge in a tub full of cold water and ice cubes. Or in a pinch, you can always apply ice packs to affected areas. Ice can numb the pain in nerves and soothe sore muscle tissue, as well as stimulate blood flow to areas in need of nutrition.
There’s a reason pro athletes use ice baths after a game where they gave it their all!
Still need some convincing? Check out the teachings of the Wim Hof Method to learn more about reducing inflammation, boosting recovery and soothing pain through cold exposure from the Iceman himself!
1. Stretch to Prevent the Burn
Lastly, stretching before and after your workout is an essential component for avoiding pain and injury. Adding a stretch session at the start of your workout warms up your muscles, encourages blood flow and lengthens the muscle fibers in preparation for action. This helps prevent cramping, sprains and tears caused by excessive strain on cold, tight muscles.
After your workout, a cool-down stretch is also extremely beneficial, and it goes a long way to mitigating pain. Stretching delivers oxygen to your muscles, purging the build up of lactic acid that causes unpleasant "muscle burn" sensations. It also increases circulation and blood flow, kicking along your healing process and reducing painful inflammation faster for a comfortable recovery.
As you can see, these strategies are super easy to incorporate into your new exercise routine! Even better, they'll help set up good, sustainable workout habits that will see you through as you build muscle and get more confident working the machines at the gym.
Use these tips to get off the struggle bus for good, and carry out your new workout routine strong with less pain, faster recovery, and renewed energy.
Thanks for reading, stay strong warrior.
Justin | MME Wellness Contributor
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