Training Tip Tuesday: Don’t Challenge Me!
A question came up recently in one of the running groups I’m a member of on Facebook. Someone had taken part in a squat challenge that requires participants to do a number of squats using a certain percentage of weight every day for 30 days. Her question was, is it smart to do squats with weights everyday.
If you have any experience with resistance exercise in any respect, you know the answer to this is no. In fact, any body builder will tell you, the correct way to develop strong healthy muscles is to alternate your largest muscle groups every other day. This prevents not only injury, but developing poorly developed muscle tissue which can lead to issues in your form down the line, which will lead to muscle fatigue and potentially more dangerous injuries.
The science behind any kind of resistance exercise is muscle fatigue and breakdown. When you do a bicep curl, for example, in actuality, you are ripping apart the tissue in that muscle group. As the muscle recovers, it builds tissue back up. This not only repairs the damaged tissue, but it insulates it, in a sense, and builds it up, allowing for the appearance of those infamous “guns”.
Sure, your body feels the work of the actual workout as you perform it, and you fatigue, but it is the rest and recovery day where your body actually produces any gains in muscle. The more intense the workout, the more muscle you use, and therein lies the potential for muscle soreness and injury. Therefore, recovery time is crucial. Grounded exercises, such as the deadlift and the squat, or push ups and the overhead press, require more rest than smaller muscle groups such as the biceps, triceps, or calves. This is because with the former, you are utilizing your core and are recruiting other larger muscle groups in unison with those that you are training. In the latter, it is more targeted muscle.
Unless you are a professional body builder or being trained by one, 24 hours will not allow sufficient recovery time. For the average Joe out there participating in one of these “challenges”, you really need a 48-hour rest period.
Many bloggers or social media peeps put these challenges out there to gain notoriety or to achieve more followers. People respond to challenges because they believe it will keep them accountable for their actions. And by having to respond to the “challenge” everyday, they are doing just that. The challenge “creator” is a happy camper, too, because they are getting daily feedback from their fans and hoping that their participants are inviting friends along for the challenge.
I get this. And I’m not saying it is a bad thing. What I am saying is that you need to use your own brain. If you are dedicated to your health and fitness as I am, you challenge yourself regularly, on a daily basis, doing whatever it is that you do to stay fit and healthy. You don’t need to join in to a 30-day “Let’s do 100 push ups a day” challenge to prove this point. You will most certainly do more harm than good.
However, if you do like to participate in the social media challenges, I recommend this. Pick two! An upper body and a lower body one. Then alternate…maybe doing the lower body on odd days and the upper body on even days. This way, you are always doing something, yet allowing that muscle group to rest and recover as it should.
The bottom line is be wise about your fitness. If a challenge really challenges your common sense, then ease off or ask someone qualified who knows the answer. Don’t assume your challenge director is that person.
Have you participated in any social media fitness challenges? Were you able to stick with it? How did it work for you?