Other/Mixed How good should you feel?

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 7 Valued Member
Brett Jones' article about recovery (Cultivating Recovery | StrongFirst) got me wondering - how can a person who trains reasonably seriously - particularly someone who trains alone - objectively determine if they are recovering effectively? How good can you reasonably expect to feel and still make progress in physical goals?

Maybe the answer is, you should always feel awesome, and it's ridiculous to even wonder that... I've just never trained in the mindset that I will always feel 100%. I expect some occasional soreness.

I'm not the data analysis sort, but thinking through the rules of thumb that I've relied on over the years:
  • Health: obviously, training must never sacrifice health. Don't try to tough it out through getting physically sick.
    • Amusing side story; one of the best "fun run" style sessions I can remember having years ago was right before getting nailed with the flu. One day, I felt like I could have kept running and doing pushups all day. Next day, I could barely crawl out of bed to go throw up.
  • Range of motion: if pain/soreness is taking away from range of motion, back off until it comes back.
    • Of course, problem with this for somebody who trains alone, is that "proper" ROM might be subjective; I might not really understand what ROM you should have in the first place.
  • Locomotion: if I can't run, walk, go up/down stairs or jump like I think I should, time to back off.
  • Psychology: everybody has a day here or there were they just don't want to get in a session. But if it becomes persistent (a whole week where I really just don't want to do it), time to assess what's going wrong.
    • Fortunately I haven't had one of those weeks in a long time, knock on wood, but the times I can recall feeling like this, it was because of stagnation. "Why am I doing this, I'm not improving."
Aside from that, I generally expect to live with some training-related minor aches and pains. I look at them as the cost of admission for doing stuff I love doing.

Other rules of thumb?
Other philosophies on how good you should feel on any given day?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I too expect some soreness. I should still feel more capable than I would if I were detrained, even at my most blasted DOM'd.
But...most of the time I should feel good. If my joints are unhappy, I'm unhappy. Otherwise I expect to feel like I'm getting the adaptations I'm training for. If my goals are lofty I will be sore, if my goals are modest I should feel pretty stable.

Edit to add: I do not have a lot of patience, have never really. I don't have a lot of total time to train so I tend toward higher intensity and longer rest intervals (train 3x week, 120 minutes total).

As I've gotten older I keep finding things like heel spurs, assorted non-training related surgeries, joint problems - also largely unrelated to training, keep interfering with long term continuity. I never know when my next downtime will be, so I train hard while I can while making sure I don't injure myself.

I feel great currently pretty much every day - nice and loose.
 
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Adam R Mundorf

Level 6 Valued Member
This is what Steve Maxwell told me about recovery :
  • You know you're not recovered when:
    • Your morning heart rate is 5 beats above normal.
    • You don't feel like training or have no joy for the workout.
    • Your BOLT score.
  • Whether or not the above is correct, I don't know. But most people who argue with Steve Maxwell are wrong. Steve has the experience to back it up.
I'm happy/content to be mediocre with no joint pain at 60 than be "exceptional" and need joint replacements at 60. Lifting just for lifting's sake is silly. I lift so I can enjoy my days more and be more capable in everyday life. If I practiced a sport than my lifting would be to enhance my strength and injury prevention for my given sport. You need to ask yourself will my quality of life be greatly enhanced by lifting heavier? Or is the risk too much? At a certain point getting stronger isn't going to be worth it. You would be better off maintaining what you have and enhancing mobility/joint integrity and applying your strength to help people in need. As they say, Strength has a Greater Purpose.

It's not only about what you feel right now either. I think Dan John said, "The checks you write with your body with "Hold my beer and watch this" activities will be hard to pay twenty years from now." You need to have that long goal in mind. You need to see yourself at age 90 exercising and before you do an activity/lift ask yourself, is this gonna haunt me in old age?

Another thing. Remember there is always tomorrow. You need to be ready for tomorrow. You need to be energized and strong for the people who rely on you. You need to be ready to put this strength your building into action. You can't be dragging your tail through the following day. They call them emergencies for a reason. Personally, I want to be ready and not dragging tail because of heavy squats.

One of my favorite articles by Pavel : The Cost of Adaptation | StrongFirst

I used to be bothered by the fact that Pavel hasn't come out with any more books since 2013. Until I understood that S&S is really all a person needs if they want to train with kettlebells. If you're not practicing a sport a GPP program that leaves you feeling fantastic to live life is all you need. If you're practicing a sport a GPP program with specific sport practice is all you need.

Dude, I'm sorry if I derailed this thread. Just PM me if I should delete or revise it.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Level 7 Valued Member
At a certain point getting stronger isn't going to be worth it. You would be better off maintaining what you have and enhancing mobility/joint integrity and applying your strength to help people in need. As they say, Strength has a Greater Purpose.

Great point, although that really applies to training in general, not specifically recovery. If what I'm doing ever starts getting in the way of being Dad, now or in the future, then I'm doing the wrong thing, even if I feel awesome. For most ordinary folks, family is our immediate "people in need".

You need to be ready to put this strength your building into action.

That's a good way to express the recovery need on a high level - readiness. If I don't, at least most days, wake up feeling ready to get the hell up and do something worthwhile, then I'm doing something wrong.

Dude, I'm sorry if I derailed this thread.

No worries, man. Meant for discussion, not confirmation bias.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
If my planning is sound, and I can't train according to the plan on some day, my recovery capability has failed me.

On a whole, I haven't found that how I feel on a given day to really have a meaningful effect on my training or my displays of strength. Of course, things like fever are good reasons to pass, but feeling a bit tired or not wanting to do it are not good enough reasons for me to pass the training.

I do not work as a firefighter or such that I would have to be able to give my everything on sudden demand. So I do not train so that I can. I'm happily tired and sore after some training sessions. The more I train under unfavourable conditions, within limits of reason, of course, the more I progress and adapt.

I find if I push myself and get to feel uncomfortable, and keep doing it, I don't get uncomfortable anymore with the same effort later on. I progress and adapt. Or was it really that uncomfortable to begin with?
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Looking back, the things that consistently define recovery for me:

- nutrition - you have to eat for your body comp goals but you also have to recognize the energy bill from your workouts. Add to this the need to stay hydrated.

- sleep - we all need some, and like nutrition the more/harder you train the more you need more sleep. When my twins were born I deliberately lost 20lbs and my exercise consisted of running the dog a mile or two at an easy pace. Was only getting 3-4 hours a night and often even that was interrupted.

- joint health - mobility, stretching whatever to keep you loose. Also recognize early warning signs that a given exercise is causing problems with a joint - either through poor form, existing conditions, or the particular exercise movement is a poor fit for your skeleton under the loads you're using.

Not that recovery is 100% linear to "How do you feel?" It feels good to be post-workout sore...occasionally, or to really need that day off from training...sometimes. All the time, not so much.
 

Adam R Mundorf

Level 6 Valued Member
With a statement like that you will have no problem achieving your goal. A lot of weak inactive people have joint pain and bad backs also.
Yeah, I agree with you. I remember a quote by Pavel from a Tim Ferris podcast where he says," How many people who haven't lifted more than a newspaper need joint replacements?"

A happy medium is what I'm searching for. I just realize that we don't get second chances with joints. So it's best not too push them too far and realize they need to last a lifetime.
 

LukeV

Level 6 Valued Member
For so many years I knocked myself out every time I went to the gym, priding myself on leaving so tired I could hardly walk. The legacy being brittle elbows and shoulders requiring constant monitoring at only 48 years old.

I remember, maybe two decades ago, reading Art Devany's original essay on evolutionary fitness. Art said "leave the gym feeling stronger than when you entered." I wondered who this idiot was. I was leaving the gym so weak I could hardly raise my arms.

Then I read McRobert on abbreviated workouts, Pavel on waving, Dan John on park bench training, somewhere in there a penny dropped ("leave some gas in the tank"), albeit probably about a decade too late for me. The damage was done.

In hindsight the answer seems easy ... workouts most of the time shouldn't result in much soreness at all. Recovery should be a given within 24 or, at most, 48 hours. And on those occasions when I am trying something new or going for a PB I should expect to be sore but only for a few days, at most. If you're experiencing something more debilitating than that then I suggest you're trying to push your body faster than the adaptation process will allow, certainly over the long term.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 6 Valued Member
You don't feel like training or have no joy for the workout.
Just saying, I had some of my best sessions on days when I felt tired before training and thought about skipping it.
IMO you should at least go through your regular warm-up to determine whether to skip the session entirely or reducing weight/volume.

On a whole, I haven't found that how I feel on a given day to really have a meaningful effect on my training or my displays of strength. Of course, things like fever are good reasons to pass, but feeling a bit tired or not wanting to do it are not good enough reasons for me to pass the training.
I find if I push myself and get to feel uncomfortable, and keep doing it, I don't get uncomfortable anymore with the same effort later on. I progress and adapt. Or was it really that uncomfortable to begin with?
+1 to both
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I'm happy/content to be mediocre with no joint pain at 60 than be "exceptional" and need joint replacements at 60. Lifting just for lifting's sake is silly.
@Adam R Mundorf, there are no absolutes to be had here - the fact of being alive means you're wearing out body parts, and there are, I'm sure, people who would voice quite the opposite sentiment, that they'd rather live life in a way they perceive as full and meaningful, and when it ends, it ends. I agree with you about not wanting to need joints replaced at 60 - I don't ever want that. I have an uncle who had a hip replaced at 60 and he's now in his mid-80's, and he's not happy because they told him he can't have another hip replacement.

No other person's choice ought to be thought "silly," IMHO. Lifting for lifting's sake is what competitive lifters do - it's there chosen sport and they wouldn't have it any other way. IOW, becoming a hall of fame powerlifter then needing joints replaced at 60 wouldn't be my own choice, but I know people who've made that choice and it's a choice I respect.

-S-
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Other rules of thumb?
Other philosophies on how good you should feel on any given day?
I think we're all somewhat the same and somewhat different when it comes to things like this. Some people have a naturally good sense of how to push themselves, others don't want to work hard enough to make progress, and yet others aren't happy unless they're miserable from their training.

One for that I've mentioned here before - when I find myself trying to decide between a nap and a training session, I've learned I should have the nap.

Another good metric for me - I teach at home, mostly music lessons in my living room, and I lift in my basement. It's a good sign for me when I can finish my lifting as a student is coming in the front door, and just walk upstairs and teach. For a program like the daily dose deadlift, which is just handful of 75% singles, it really should be like this for me, I know, but again, we're all different.

And another thing I've recommended before - compete. If you compete, it puts all your training under the magnifying glass of actual performance. You can, e.g., try training harder or easier and your next competition will tell you whether it worked or not.

-S-
 

Maine-ah KB

Level 7 Valued Member
My experience is there is a time for feeling, tired, sore and a little beaten up (near the end of ROP) and times you shouldn't (doing S&S by the book) it depends what your goal is and how your getting there. both periods are important ie the difference between a park bench and a bus bench program.
 

Shawn90

Level 5 Valued Member
Brett Jones' article about recovery (Cultivating Recovery | StrongFirst) got me wondering - how can a person who trains reasonably seriously - particularly someone who trains alone - objectively determine if they are recovering effectively? How good can you reasonably expect to feel and still make progress in physical goals?

Maybe the answer is, you should always feel awesome, and it's ridiculous to even wonder that... I've just never trained in the mindset that I will always feel 100%. I expect some occasional soreness.

I'm not the data analysis sort, but thinking through the rules of thumb that I've relied on over the years:
  • Health: obviously, training must never sacrifice health. Don't try to tough it out through getting physically sick.
    • Amusing side story; one of the best "fun run" style sessions I can remember having years ago was right before getting nailed with the flu. One day, I felt like I could have kept running and doing pushups all day. Next day, I could barely crawl out of bed to go throw up.
  • Range of motion: if pain/soreness is taking away from range of motion, back off until it comes back.
    • Of course, problem with this for somebody who trains alone, is that "proper" ROM might be subjective; I might not really understand what ROM you should have in the first place.
  • Locomotion: if I can't run, walk, go up/down stairs or jump like I think I should, time to back off.
  • Psychology: everybody has a day here or there were they just don't want to get in a session. But if it becomes persistent (a whole week where I really just don't want to do it), time to assess what's going wrong.
    • Fortunately I haven't had one of those weeks in a long time, knock on wood, but the times I can recall feeling like this, it was because of stagnation. "Why am I doing this, I'm not improving."
Aside from that, I generally expect to live with some training-related minor aches and pains. I look at them as the cost of admission for doing stuff I love doing.

Other rules of thumb?
Other philosophies on how good you should feel on any given day?

I read the article just now and wanted to do a shout-out :/

The whole point of the article (how i understand it) is to make you aware that you need to be able to handle life on top of training. Training shouldnt beat you up. Leave gas in the tank to deal with life.

This is similar to how old strongmen trained. Avoiding breaking a sweat, making it look easy, not light just easy. And "dont overexert yourself"

The bulk of the people go to the gym and beat themselves up. Believing the more the better. And fitness should be hard and beat you up etc. This is how i trained for roughly 8 years and hardly progressed in anything.

Imho Brett through the article warns us we should leave gas in the tank when training and always focus on enhancing health through training rather than focussing of doing more in less time.

A good read !
 

ali

Level 6 Valued Member
I've had days in the past where I've felt too drained to do planned training/sport and did it anyway and it was just the tonic. Other times, got injured or sick. And then with advancing years it was much more the latter.
Always a tomorrow. Yesterday was one of those days. A planned session, an important one too in preparation for a sprint event at the weekend and postponed for today. Now it'll have to wait as I'm not up for it at all.....Oh well. The right decision though!
For demanding stuff I need to be and feel 100%, no aches or niggles and feel fresh. It is possible to work around some minor issues, sometimes but sprinting isn't one of them. Another day off. It's raining anyway so no big deal.....
 
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