Is It Normal to Be Sore After A Workout?
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image by ericmcgregor

Sometimes I forget how much I like basic free weight training.

My workouts recently have been full of kettlebells, jump squats and intervals that push my endurance. I’ve done a lot of body weight exercises, like push ups and planks. I love these exercises and what they do for my body. I love the challenge of pullups. I still dream of being able to do a one handed push up a la Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. Yet, recently, I felt something was missing.

It was the dumbbells.

Perhaps it’s been my schedule, being extremely time pressed and on the road, that has kept me focused on only the most efficient of exercises and workouts. Or maybe it’s my emphasis on getting the most bang for the workout buck for my clients who are working out only 2-3 times a week. But somehow I had forgotten the joy, and effectiveness, of focused dumbbell exercises in split workouts.

I also had to remember my own advice on the importance of taking time for oneself.  My goal to continue to refine my shape, not lose weight, required me to change my training and give a little more to myself. 15 minute activity blasts and express workouts are useful tools but they should not be the only option. I was short changing myself.

So I started a new upper/lower 4-day workout split. I’m still efficient with my time, none of my workouts are longer than 45 minutes, and I keep my heart rate up by using supersets. The exercises that I’m loving right now are:

  • Dumbbell front squats: These hit the quads slightly more by putting the weight at the front of the body. I’m doing them offload, with a dumbbell only on one side and slow. I count slowly to 3 on the descent. Anytime you slow down it makes an exercise more challenging.
  • Arnold Press: Yes, they’re named for the Govenator and they are challenging shoulder shapers. I prefer to do them standing so I work my core stabilizers at the same time.
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: I was surprised how sore my chest was the next day. It just proves the body adapts to anything, even push ups. I also used a bench (instead of my usual stability ball) allowing me to push a little more weight than I might have otherwise.

My workouts feel new and fresh with these “old” exercises, and my muscles are responding well. It’s amazing how much fun it is to make the old new again. I also mentally feel better; giving myself much needed decompression time. Those slow counts on the squats aren’t just good for my muscles, my brain gets to slow down and focus too.

We all need a plan B, quick workouts and exercises we can do in a time crunch. I believe in the power of functional and bodyweight training. But I also believe in the power of iron to sculpt beautiful curves and refresh my spirit. Take a little time, slow it down and invest in a strong and beautiful body.

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