Weight Lifting Question

I have 2 routines: upper body (bench press, pullups, dips, tri-curls, bi-curls, abs and variants) and lower body (squats, lunges, quad raises, calf raises, lower back and variants).

I usually work out for a month and then take a month off. Whenever I start up again, I am sore for a few days. Yesterday (Tuesday), I started again with upper body. Today my chest and lats are marginally sore. Tomorrow, they will be even more sore. On Friday, I will feel like today (kind of sore). Saturday, I will be fine.

Today, I plan on doing lower body. Tomorrow, my upper body will be too sore to do squats (won’t be able to maintain good form) and I really won’t feel like going to the gym at all.

Should I?: 1) stick with the plan and do lower body today, 2) give myself some rest today, but then force myself to do lower body tomorrow, 3) wait until Friday to do lower body, or 4) wait until I’m completely healed and wait until Saturday.

I guess the underlying question is whether the body’s resources needed for recuperation cannibalize those needed for working out another part of the body, minimizing the effectiveness of the second workout (even if it addresses different body parts).

Why do you take every other month off? Isn’t that where the problem comes from?

Trust me. It’s not intentional. But after 10 - 12 workouts in a month, I feel like I’m in shape and just stop going. And then after another month, I feel like I’m getting out of shape and go back.

It’s definitely psychological, but I noticed I do many things similarly. For example, I keep change (money) in my car for various reasons. When I’ve accumulated too much change, I start getting rid of it by grabbing a bunch of it before going into a store. But eventually I notice that I have no change left and start trying to accumulate it again. I guess you can call me Sisyphus!

You should be more consistent in your workouts. You’re kidding yourself if you think a month of lifting is making any difference in your fitness levels.

I agree. But the way I do it keeps me in good aesthetic and anaerobic shape. It doesn’t do much else in term of “fitness”, but my doc keeps telling me to keep on doing what I’m doing, since all my numbers are within or better than their ranges.

Any ideas on how you can make a more stable routine? In any case, you’re doing better than most of us out-of-shape schlubs :smiley:

You should use very light weights and fewer reps until you build yourself back up.

I’ve been trying to follow a stable routine for at least 2 decades, with no success. At the age of 41, I’m finally comfortable with the fact that I’ll never follow one. :slight_smile:

My husband lifts twice a week and is always moderately sore the next day. I wouldn’t lift again while I was really sore, as your body is working to repair the torn muscles.

My advice is to alternate weight lifting with another less violent cardio.

I think you’re asking the wrong question. To answer your question, go with option two (rest today, lift tomorrow).

To address the more substantial issue of how to work out in such a way that you make progress and don’t feel horribly sore:

  1. I would recommend a three-day rotation as opposed to a two-day rotation. My gym friends and I will roll our eyes and say “The second day is the worst day.” I would recommend something like this:

Day One: Lower Body
Day Two: Chest and Arms
Day Three: Back and Shoulders
Day Four: Lower Body
Day Five: Chest and Arms
Day Six: Back and Shoulders
Day Seven: Off

Of course, we all have our preferences, so don’t take what I’m saying as the gospel. Abs and cardio come in somewhere, but I don’t think I need to give you that detailed of a workout plan. My main points are that it’s easier to find a way to split upper body workouts than lower body workouts, there should be a day off at some point in the week, and I would recommend putting the lower body workout after the day off because squats are the hardest and most excruciating lifts of all.

Also, the taking a month off thing baffles me. A good way to rest that I learned from P90X is to do three weeks of pushing yourself, followed by one week where you focus on cardio and core work and let your muscles recuperate. Then, after a single week of rest, you get back to work.

First of if it was me I’d decide why I wanted to do the weightlifting. Is it for aesthetics? Or do you want to be stronger? For the former, try a body building like suggested above. For the latter go with a powerlifting/strength over size oriented approach like Starting Strength. 3 days a week, no chance for over training.

Are you eating and sleeping properly? Good rest is essential for recovery.

I can’t give you a scientific response. What I can give you is my take on your question based off my experience and tidbits I’ve picked up along the way.

As long as your soreness is the result of fatigue and not an actual physical injury, there is no harm in doing your next workout.

If you were going to ask me why you are fatigued, it appears that there are two likely responses. The first, as has been referred to in this thread is the time off you’re taking between workout months. Each time you startup it’s a brand new workout to your body and fatigue is to be expected.

The second reason is it appears that you are overdoing it with your number of workouts per week. The standard rest time between workouts is 48 hours. This is the time necessary for your body to heal and prep for your next workout.

I definitely don’t sleep enough…maybe 6 hours a night if I’m lucky. My diet oscillates in a manner similar to my workout schedule.

Thanks for all the advice and answers everyone.

This, quite simply.

Ease back into it if you’ve been off for a while to prevent soreness. You will still regain your strength very quickly.

Can I piggyback off this thread for a question?

I’ve been doing the same rather brutal strength workout (Jillian Michaels’ No More Trouble Zones, if you care) 1-2 times a week for months. This week I decided to start doing it every other day. After a week, my knee and elbow joints are quite sore. Is this bad? Do I need to lay off?

I’m too distracted to give much advice, but I like to throw out a link to ExRx.net every so often because it is easily the best source of information on exercise I’ve ever seen. And it’s free.

Yeah, if it’s joint soreness as opposed to the typical muscle soreness* you get after a hard workout you should lay off until the pain goes away. When you get back at it, try building up frequency a bit more gradually.

Not that you should overwork sore muscles, but there’s a whole school of though about about low intensity “recovery” workout’s.

Much obliged. :wink:

And if your joints are sore you might have someone watch you lift to make sure you are using good form.