Discovery + Learning + Sharing = Bliss
Sore, Hungry, and Slow: 3 Signs That Show Your Program Is WorkingBy Steve Edwards
Exercise makes us feel great. It makes us less hungry. It helps us perform everyday tasks better. Besides our health and the way we look, feeling great, being less hungry, and performing better are exactly the reasons we put ourselves through exercise. However, en route to ultimate fitness, there are some hurdles we all need to clear. Mainly, they include being faced with the opposite of our intended goals. Enter the trilogy of grumpiness: getting sore, slow, and hungry. We tend to look at these as negatives, but how about a little New Year's spin? You want these feelings because they're clear signs your program is working.
Before we analyze why you need to embrace "going backward," let's answer the obvious question: why would we design this type of program? Certainly, there are exercise programs that don't put you through torture. Could we have chosen such a path with P90X®?
The answer is that programs lacking this trilogy don't provide you an incentive to get in top shape. In the early stages of any exercise program, it's possible to structure the schedule and diet around making small improvements. I call this the Curves® template. You push your body above its normal output, though just barely, and you keep it there. If you are greatly deconditioned, it will yield improvements. This approach doesn't hurt, and frankly, it helps people who've never exercised—mainly due to the mental boost they get from feeling they can exercise. It's a nice alternative for some people. But let's be realistic. None of them would sit through a P90X infomercial, much less be inspired by it.
The Curves template is what we would call a foundation phase of training for someone who has never exercised. The next step would be one of our programs, like P90X or Slim in 6® (these programs also work on the Curves template because you can choose modified variations). The upside with this method is that each day you leave the gym feeling better than when you walked in. The downside is that you'll never have the body of a fitness model. To achieve a higher level of fitness, you need to periodize your training (see "Customizing P90X for Specific Goals: Part I" in the Related Articles section below) and eventually stare into your Nietzschean abyss. That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger is more than a cliché with P90X—it's your life.
Soreness is the easiest symptom to understand. Most of us have been sore at some point. It happens anytime we do something physical that we're unaccustomed to. From yard work to a pickup game with your old team to a marathon shopping spree, when you push your body beyond what you do in your normal day-to-day activity, you get sore. This is true even if you used to do the said activity all the time. In fact, that generally makes it worse, because you still hang on to the muscle memory of how to do the activity, which means you can really put the hurt on if you don't have the requisite fitness base.
Most soreness comes from the breakdown of fast twitch muscle fibers. Our bodies have both slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. Slow twitch fibers have a low recruitment factor, which simply means they get fired up at low outputs. Fast twitch fibers have a high recruitment factor, meaning it takes something more intense to get them going. A simple example would be raising your fork to your mouth, which requires slow twitch fibers, compared to raising a heavy barbell over your head, which requires fast twitch fibers. Furthermore, we all have some extra fast twitch fiber for emergencies. When you run from a bear, you're engaging these, which is why you're likely to run faster than you ever have before.
Fast twitch fibers are repaired much more slowly than slow twitch fibers. You can pretty much keep shoving food into your mouth and never get tired. When you do get tired, you'll be able to resume the activity quickly. Lifting a barbell over your head will wear you out, and it will take some time before your body is able to do it again. The more weight you add, the quicker you'll get tired and the longer it will take before your body is ready to do it again. And once you've escaped the bear, you'd do well to avoid him for a couple of weeks. Those emergency fibers you've thrashed will take that long to recover.
Hypertrophy means muscle growth. Almost all training programs target this, even weight loss programs, because changing a body from rotund to svelte requires you to lose body fat. And the quickest way to lose body fat is to gain more muscle. Muscle requires more work from your body, even at rest, so you're body will take the nutrients from the foods you eat and store them in muscle tissue rather than adipose (or fat) tissue.
To create hypertrophy, you need to overload your muscle fibers progressively to keep breaking them down. As you get fitter, you engage higher-threshold muscle cell motor units to keep the overload coming. Breaking down exactly the number of muscle cells your body can replenish right away is nearly impossible. This means that to advance your level of fitness, you are going to break down more muscle fibers than you intended. When this happens, you get sore.
Furthermore, the more varied the exercise you do, the more you'll find areas where your body is out of balance. This means some muscles are stronger than others. When you do new exercises, your stronger muscles are forced to do extra work as the weaker ones catch up. This results in both the strong and weak muscles being overworked while they sort out the balance problem. This is the first step of Muscle Confusion™ (see "Why Confused Muscles Get Stronger Faster" in the Related Articles section below), and as you know, there is no shortage of it in P90X.
"I heard I would get less hungry and all I can think about is eating" is a common sentiment expressed on our Message Boards. The reason is somewhat obvious—our entry-level programs have low-calorie diets, not to mention restricted diets. Most of these people are simply craving the junk foods we've had them cut out.
But Xers get hungry too, and they're usually eating enough calories. This is because your body cries out for nutrients when it's in breakdown mode, even when you've eaten all you can. Learning that this craving is normal will greatly help your success curve.
When your body is craving nutrients, you want to feed it. However, under the type of duress a hard program creates, you can't possibly give it enough nutrients. Many of us try. We eat and eat. And while eating can help ease the mental anguish your body is going through, you can't put all of these calories to use, and some will get stored in fat tissue.
When your body is hungry, supplements are your best friend. Most have very few calories and a lot of nutrients. Some have targeted nutrients, which basically means they're designed for nutrient efficiency. Results and Recovery Formula™ is a prime example (see "Your Key to Great Results" in the Related Articles section below). Although its nutrient profile is unsuitable for many situations, during or after exercise, it is the most efficient food for your body. Using Results and Recovery Formula as directed will help you get less sore, and hence less hungry. Shakeology® also shines during an exercise program. While healthy anytime, drinking Shakeology while your body's in flux will enhance your ability to use all of Shakeology's nutrients effectively.
But no matter how well we strategize, we're all going to get hungry at some point in our programs. So much so that staying hungry is a metaphor for the bodybuilding lifestyle. In the film Stay Hungry, a bodybuilding champion (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) sums this up with the line, "I don't want to get too comfortable. I'd rather stay hungry."
This is the hardest condition to conceptualize but the easiest to explain. During hypertrophy, your muscles are growing. Growing muscles are a bit like a growing person. Just as you learn how to grow into a developing body, you need to learn how to use new muscles. During the hypertrophy stage of your exercise program, your muscles are "big and dumb," like the old-school concept of the "musclehead."
Larger muscles have a greater capacity for strength than smaller ones. A large muscle isn't necessarily stronger, but if trained properly, it will become stronger. Muscular efficiency (or absolute strength) is what gets targeted in the latter stages of a training program. Doing low repetitions, along with eccentric and plyometric movements, is all about teaching your muscles efficiency—essentially, the ability to recruit high-threshold muscle cell motor units.
We'll talk more about strength training in another article. Today, my point is to explain the rationale behind what I call "getting slow." While your muscles are growing, your ability to move quickly lessens. This is why athletes do all of their body-altering training in the off-season. When you start to feel slow, it's a sign that your program is working. Just remember that you'll want to increase your intensity and whip those big lugs into shape later on.
Wanting to experience the trilogy of grumpiness should help you during your next program or training cycle. But remember that these are stages, not chronic conditions. You should only experience them early in a program or new cycle of training. If you aren't experiencing them at all, it means you're ready to ramp your training up to the next level. But if they persist beyond 4 weeks, you're overdoing it and risk overtraining. You may also experience them each time you transition to a new phase. In this case, though, they should be gone before you move into the next phase.
Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 11th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!
Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.
Stay-at-Home Mom Brings It with the X!
Suzy Stauffer was a stay-at-home mom who was becoming an out-of-shape mom. With Tony Horton's help, she was able to show people what a domestic goddess can really look like.
4th Law of Exercise: PurposeBy Tony Horton
Exercising and eating right help you feel better. When you feel better, you do more. When you do more, you meet other people. A healthy lifestyle gives us the energy to be better than before. We want to participate, share, communicate, and build a community. If you'd never found Beachbody®, you might be right back where you were—isolated and with nothing to share, because you weren't doing anything with anyone.
We come together because we all have one thing in common—the desire to improve our lives. Anyone willing to explore the Message Boards is given the opportunity to participate in something truly unique. The intent to help yourself turns into a chance to save someone else's life. We're planting seeds that affect much more than our own weight loss and improved fitness. The moment we decide to share our stories, we create an energy shift so powerful that it has the potential to change the world.
When we're in a state of fear and anxiety, the people around us aren't too thrilled either. If we have the energy to be kind, wise, and loving, we lift up everyone around us. The difference between these two states is CHOICE. Before P90X or Power 90®, many of you were overwhelmed, sick, and tired. Shortly after you started the program (even before you saw any real physical change), something remarkable started to happen. You felt better.
When you feel good, you act quite differently than when you feel overwhelmed and tired. The people around you don't need be told what kind of mood you're in. They know. Your behavior (good and bad) has tons of energy and power that affect everyone in your world. You are what you eat and what you do! If you eat junk and do nothing, friends and family will sink with you or abandon ship—not a terribly inspiring or productive outcome. If you choose to devote your time and energy to health and fitness with wisdom and courage, you become a beacon of energy so powerful, you could change the lives of thousands of people.
A healthy, fit body directly affects the mind and soul. The brain and body are one. The reason so many people reach for cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and fast food is because it makes them feel good . . . for now. These short-term pleasures deliver myriad physiological and psychological disorders and diseases down the road. Short-term bouts of exercise, on the other hand, will guarantee the opposite result—a lifetime of good health, energy, self-reliance, and hope.
"If you look after the body, the fragrance of the mind and spirit will come of itself." —B.K.S. Iyengar
Having purpose takes the onus off you and puts the focus on the people who need your help. The gift of giving is the greatest gift to receive. The people I know who practice this on a daily basis are well-rounded, content, empathetic, wise, and happy. They say that about 3 percent of the people on Earth live in bliss. What the hell are the other 97 percent doing? Maybe we're spending too much time on ME, ME, ME! I believe that our journey on this earth is to be serviceable. Discover what you love, learn how to do it well, and share it with others. It's also important to recognize when friends and family are not ready for change. The worst kind of advice is the kind that was never asked for.
Purpose is the driving force that moves you from here to there. Your purpose for taking care of yourself is based on intention and resolution. If your intentions aren't clear, strong, and true, the best food and supplements and perfect workouts won't help you discover your purpose. What are your intentions? Do you want to find resolution? What is your $64,000 question? If it's about looking hot for the weekend fitness camp, how will that hold up come Monday? Short-term goals are nice. It's one way to stay in the game. But if you want to make a worldwide impact, then put your energy into the long-term goals.
The key to success for Power 90 and P90X comes to people who figure out that when you share your experiences, your wisdom, your love, and your truth, you begin to know what it is to live like that 3 percent. The Message Boards, chat rooms, and WOWY® SuperGym can be precious commodities—we are given an opportunity to share everything about our journey with people going through the same thing.
Discovery + Learning + Sharing = Bliss!
Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 11th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!
Recipe: Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken
Want some down-home goodness without having to go to the Colonel for a bucket of fat and calories? Try this high-protein treat that you can enjoy with just a few minutes of prep time. Now that's fast food!
8 6–8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp. salt (optional)
2 cups plain bread crumbs
1–2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (canola, safflower, etc.)
In a large bowl, whisk together hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt (optional). Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade. Add bread crumbs to marinade and mix well. Coat chicken thoroughly with mixture.
Spread oil over the bottom of a shallow 9"x13" baking dish. Arrange chicken in the dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn chicken over. Reduce heat to 325 degrees; cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Makes 8 5-oz. servings.
Cooking Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Nutritional Information (per serving): Protein: 30 g Carbs: 20 g Fiber: 1 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Fat Total: 8 g
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