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  #1   ^
Old Sat, Feb-08-03, 12:11
atlee's Avatar
atlee atlee is offline
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Posts: 1,182
Stats: 186/136/140 Female 5' 5"
BF:A lot/18%/20%
Progress: 109%
Location: Jackson, MS
Default Weight Training and Muscle Soreness

I've been doing weight training at home for about 45 minutes 3-4x a week for about a month now, trying to get toned in time for my May wedding. I'm using low weights and lots of reps, focusing mainly on my upper body and abs since my wedding dress is sleeveless and has a very fitted bodice. In the beginning, I was consistently sore for at least a day and a half afterwards, but in the last week or so, I've stopped being sore the next morning.

As I've gained strength, I have increased the reps so that I'm still working to muscle failure -- I try to add at least two reps (or one of each kind of pushup I do) each session. I've still got the same after-workout burn when I go to bed (I work out in the late evening, about an hour before bedtime). I'm just recovering much more quickly, is all -- I feel just the tiniest bit sore the next morning, and it's gone by lunchtime. I'm concerned that this means I'm not actually doing myself much good. Isn't soreness -- not pain, but lactic acid soreness -- the sign that you're working your muscles the right intensity? A power-lifter friend suggested that this may have to do with the fact that I drink 3 or so liters of water every day, says I'm just washing the lactic acid right out of my system, but I'm not sure how plausible this is.

Is this faster recovery just the sign that I'm in better shape, or does it mean that I need to step up the workout intensity? If so, should I be upping my weights and lowering my reps a bit? I'm actually considering that anyway, since it's taking me longer and longer to reach muscle failure. I just don't want to bulk up, is all, and I have always tended toward having muscular arms and shoulders for a woman. I don't want to look like Helga the Happy Valkyrie Bride! I can really see a difference in the last month, but as my arms have actually gotten almost half an inch bigger, I'm concerned.
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  #2   ^
Old Sat, Feb-08-03, 18:31
Jezebel's Avatar
Jezebel Jezebel is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 144
Plan: my own
Stats: 149/150/130 Female 159cm
Progress: -5%
Location: Lismore, Australia

You are in better shape!!You do NOT need pain to make progress, my boy/f has been training with weights for about 13 years now and although he lifts heavy and makes good gains, he no longer gets sore...I would reccomend increasing the weight you are lifting, rather than just adding heaps of mind numbing reps, which will make it very boring and make it more likely that you will stop doing it.
Don't worry about ending up looking like a valkyrie.... unless you have unusually high testosterone levels you will just get firm, well shaped muscles. I think the fear of bulk in women is a form of body dysmorphia.
Remeber, the strength gains, and fat loss you see in the first year ofweight training do no continue at that pace... most will slow down within a few months, so appraciate them while they last rather than fearing the miracle that is quickly acheived, beautiful strong and shapely arms etc.
Good skill!!!
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  #3   ^
Old Sat, Feb-08-03, 20:08
ysabella's Avatar
ysabella ysabella is offline
Don't Call Me Sugar
Posts: 4,209
Plan: Atkins
Stats: 293/287/230 Female 65 inches
BF: :^( :^| :^)
Progress: 10%
Location: Auburn, WA

I've been doing Nautilus machines a lot and really setting the weights high so I really get the burn and so on, and I keep expecting to be sore, but I hardly am.

I think it's all this meaty protein I'm eating - I always did recover fast, now it's lightning fast.

Can't wait to add some free weights!

Best wishes for your wedding, atlee - and I'm with Jezebel, I think higher weights and less reps are the way to go.
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  #4   ^
Old Sat, Feb-08-03, 22:17
Natrushka Natrushka is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 11,512
Plan: IF +LC
Stats: 287/165/165 Female 66"
Progress: 100%

atlee, let me put your fears of being a viking bride to rest Women do not have the hormonal profile to get 'huge' naturally - it takes some unnatural help.

I'm with the ladies, lifting heavier for fewer reps should give you the results you're looking for. The lactic acid burn you're referring to is not the same thing has lifting to positive failure. Failure is when you can't complete another repetition, and it tends to happen rather soon when lifting heavier weights. What lighter weights for many reps produces is a tired muscle.

As for the degree of soreness, you'll find you're a lot less sore when you LC due simply to less muscle glycogen stores in your tissue. When I lift while eating higher carb I am a lot sorer a lot longer than when I do so while eating LC. As well, the more you lift the greater the likelihood you wont feel sore at all - it doesn't mean you haven't done any damage though (damage being a good thing!).

In the end mixing things up when it comes to weight lifting is a good thing - our bodies adapt to what we do. Changing the reps, the weights, the exercises and the time between sets will all go along way to bringing back the DOMS and to producing growth.

You might also want to have a look through the thread stuck in this forum about "Advice for the beginner, getting started" - there are some good pointers on sets, reps and workout schemes.

Best of luck with the sleeveless dress!
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  #5   ^
Old Sat, Feb-08-03, 22:19
atlee's Avatar
atlee atlee is offline
Registered Member
Posts: 1,182
Stats: 186/136/140 Female 5' 5"
BF:A lot/18%/20%
Progress: 109%
Location: Jackson, MS
Default thanks!

I'm personally just as happy not to be sore the next day, but I was worried because I've always heard that muscle soreness is the sign that you're really building muscle. I did buy some heavier dumbbells at Wal-Mart today, so we'll see how I do with those. Be nice to drop the reps down a little bit -- you're right, Jezebel, it is indeed mind-numbingly boring!

For me, I don't think that the Valkyrie thing is necessarily body dysmorphia -- I'm pretty solidly built, and I have broad shoulders for a woman. In high school and college, I used to swim a lot as well as play polo, and my arms were definitely muscular rather than lean and shapely. I don't think my testosterone levels are unusually high, as I don't have any other indicators of such, but I do tend toward the chunky-solid look rather than the long-and-lean. Admittedly, this beats the heck out of the flab look -- I just don't want to go too far with it!

Thanks for the best wishes, Ysabella! If you want to see a picture of me in my dress, here is one taken at my first fitting two weeks ago:
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