Beef Jerky Joints – 4 signs you’ve overdone it and what to do next.
It was a Friday evening at the end of a long week. I had trained fairly hard, walked almost everywhere with my bike being in the shop and worked a few really late nights. In turn this led to an increase in caffeine intake, a change in my mental state of mind from positive to ‘when will this week end’, a decrease in motivation, poor sleep, slowed recovery time and an evening feeling sorry for myself with joints that felt like they were held together with beef jerky. Know the feeling? Training hard is all well and good, but if recovery takes a sideline you could well be setting yourself up for some serious road blocks to progress. Often there is a temptation to keep pushing harder, but optimum training adaptations require optimum recovery. In the words of Dan John, ask yourself “can you go?”. If you can’t?…its time to put down the dumbbells and move onto the stretching mats. Signs you’ve over done it usually happen in a domino effect, either over a day or over weeks even. So here are the big 4 that show you’ve been slacking on recovery and advice on how to improve it:
1. Poor Sleep
For me, poor sleep is the first sign that I’m overcooking it. Burning the candle at both ends is a really tempting thing to do, especially when you enjoy being busy. But keep going and the precious time dedicated to sleep starts to wane. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown describes sleep as ‘your biggest asset’. It is the time that your body spends the most on recovery and regeneration, so protect it at all costs. That last minute presentation due tomorrow? It’s not worth the all nighter, get to bed early and get up early. Learn the lesson and do your preparation next time! Missing out on valuable time to recover from stressors and replenish valuable neurotransmitters (double check) is going to get you one thing and thats further away from being energised, awake and ready to go.
I would recommend at least 6-7 hours as a minimum with 7hrs 20 being theorised as the optimum sleep time. Write down your ideal bed time routine and start to follow it, starting today. Here’s a template:
9:00- switch off t.v and finish any washing up
9:30- calming tea: think peppermint/camomile
9:50- teeth, wash face, fill glass of water to take to bed
10:00- in bed, phone off in another room or at the very least face down. low light lamp on, read a good book (tablets/phones/laptops are not allowed)
10:20-30- lights off, eyes shut, sleep time.
Protect your biggest, sleepiest asset. Sleep can make or break progress, so if its suffering you need to address why. Good quality sleep is key, give it the attention it deserves.
2. Slowed Recovery Time
Poor sleep has a knock on effect on a lot of things, one of the main ones being slowed recovery time. You can only train as hard as you can recover. However, if you are limited to 6 hours a night and you only have a few hours free in a day because you work 2-3 jobs, make use of that time and make sure you include rest days in your week. Slowed recovery time means going into your next sessions on the back foot.
Learn when to take your foot off the gas and take another day off. Listen to your body, its pretty good at telling you when your too beat up to train.
3. ’Beef-Jerky Joints’
This is something I have been all too familiar with recently and is a tell tale sign that either you’re technique is off, you’ve got some mechanical issues or you’re loading/volume/frequency is off. Whatever the case, you’ve overcooked something…so its time to assess whats happened. If your not keeping a training diary, but keep experiencing injuries then its time to start keeping one. without it you’ll never keep track of what you’ve been doing and you wont be able to assess what went wrong and more importantly why. Further, sometimes its just best to get some advice from other people. Sometimes the simplest things can escape you. Like putting in bulgarian split squats which have a much more vertical shin angle if the shin angle if a deep squat is causing you pain.
If your joints hurt, something is going wrong. Take a step back, ask for help and drop the ego lifting…pushing through pain will get you nothing but hurt. Oh, and an epsom salt bath and a massage wont hurt either.
4. Loss of Motivation
This one was probably the biggest one for me. This all mounted up to having a very ‘whats the point’ attitude for a week or two. It set off a domino effect of other things: more coffee, less energy, loss of effort with nutrition. Its not just your joints, your sleep and your recovery that suffers without a well timed de-load, its your mindset too. This was the biggest set back for me and resulted in some amount of self doubt about my training and its place in my life. Fortunately here’s where that wonderful old friend hindsight really kicked in…
Its natural to hit low points in training for whatever reason and if they make you feel like rubbish, its okay to feel like that too. Take a few days out from training, ask yourself the same questions you did when you started your programme in the first place. Why are you doing this? What is it that you really want? Why do you want it? Why does that matter to you? What would you feel like if you achieved it? What would you feel like if you didn’t achieve it?
If there is one thing I have learned for certain this year its that de-load’s can be a bloody god send. They allow for a physical and mental break from training and an opportunity for you to reflect on the past training cycle, whatever the outcome. The biggest lesson I’ve learned recently is that the silver lining of f**king up your training is you’ll learn what not to do next time.
If you’re training isn’t going to plan, I have space opening up in the next month for one client training in the mornings. Drop us a line below and lets get you back on track.
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