I've been reading your articles on this site for the past 6 months, and I'd like to thank you for all your honest insights in the world of muscle training and weightlifting. I'm a normal working guy with a wife and a kid on the way, and I like to devote 2-3 days a week to exercise whenever possible.
I've seen the most positive results from your recommendations regarding compound exercise routines. It also helps to understand the importance of preventive measures like rotators cuff exercises, dieting, rest, soreness, etc. Pretty much you stress the importance of balance and not going over the edge.
I came across another fitness routine called Stronglifts 5X5 from a guy named Medhi (http://stronglifts.com) He takes a hardline approach to his 5X5 routine, requiring you workout to the T on his 12 week recommended schedule. I saw interesting comments on his e-book including recommendations to work through 'the soreness,' (p42) and I'm a bit sceptical.
His approach to a simple compound exercise routine coupled with a good diet seems right. Any thoughts?
Thanks for the question Ivan.
Stronglifts.com is a pretty good website with a lots of great information. I haven’t personally gone through the 5 x 5 program on the website but I have a pretty good idea of what’s inside (I've done a few similar routines).
A 5 x 5 routine is a very tough routine and one that shouldn’t be attempted by beginners. Mind you, it’s a very effective routine for building explosive power but a very intense workout.
For those of you who don’t know what a 5 x 5 routine is, it’s basically doing 5 sets of 5 repetitions for a specified muscle group and exercise.
The 5 x 5 routine works best for compound movements such as the bench press, squat, and dead lift.
For example, if you were to do a 5 x 5 workout for the bench press, you would only perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions for that exercise. The weight used would allow you to do 5 repetitions with each progressive set. This routine is specifically designed to help boost your strength levels. This is a simple, but very intense routine.
I’ve used 5 x 5 routines in the past with some of my body building buddies and the results were pretty good. Actually, some of my best gains have come from a 5 x 5 routine.
However, this type of routine takes a tremendous toll on your joints and connective tissues. The thing you have to remember with this type of routine is that it is all strength based. With each passing workout, your ultimate goals is to get stronger. There is simply no other function for this type of workout - It is designed for raw power.
What does this mean? It means that you have to be in a well rested state before you attempt each workout. Your mind and body has to be at a certain place if you are to make any significant gains with this type of routine. If your mind or body isn’t where it should be, this routine won’t work for you.
It’s been my experience that a sore muscle is not a rested muscle. A sore muscle is going to be a weak muscle - I don’t care what anybody says. I’ve tried training with sore muscles and I can say with 100% certainty, I’m not as strong as I should be if my muscle was rested and not sore.
Think of it this way. Your body has ways of telling you when it’s not ready to do something and one of those ways is when it’s sore or injured. Your body is actually injured when it’s sore from weight training. Your muscles are in a state of havoc and are all torn up from the heavy training. Your joints are probably in a bad state as well.
By hitting a muscle that’s sore from a previous workout will only make things worse. Now, there are different train of thoughts on the issue of whether or not you should do some light weight training or aerobics when you are sore. Here’s my take. When I go to the gym, I have one goal in mind and that’s to improve from my previous workout. I don’t go to the gym just to go through the motions. I go to the gym to add an extra 10 pounds to the bar and/or do 2 more repetitions than I did the last workout. I don’ t go to the gym just to show up to the gym - I have a very specific purpose and going through the motions is a waste of time and energy.
I’ve tried going to the gym to train a sore muscle group and if there’s one thing that happens is that I’m usually weaker than I was in my previous workout. My muscles just aren’t up to lifting a heavy weight - Plain and simple. It’s taken me about 5 years to figure this one out. There was a time when nothing could hold me back from the gym - I’ve had to learn the hard way. A sore body is a weak body, and that opens you up to possible injury.
If I’m in week 12 of a high intensity training program and my muscle group is sore the day I need to train it, I stay away from the weight room. I’ve injured myself to many times to not get this lesson. I’ll stay home, make myself a power protein shake, apply some tiger balm, hop on the couch, watch a movie and hit the sheets early. I know that I’ll have a much better workout the day after because my muscles will be rested. It’s simple physiology.
I’m not taking anything away from the Stronglifts.com website. It’s a good website with a lot of great information. I just wouldn’t recommend you hit the weights with a sore body. A sore body is a warning sign and take it from a person who’s been injured avoiding warning signs, listen to your body. Train only when your body tells you it’s safe to head back to the gym. Do this and you’ll enjoy longevity in the weight room.
See this page here for a more detailed discussion
All the best,
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