One Woman’s Journey Into Weight Lifting

I am not a personal trainer, nutritionist, dietitian, professional bodybuilder or figure competitor. However, over the past four years I feel like I have taken a crash course in all of the above. At one point in time, I strongly believed in hours of cardio and that the Special K diet would actually bring me to a size 2. Until my eyes were finally opened.

My journey began right after graduating high school. Like most women, my exercising consisted solely of running. I was what they call in the bodybuilding world, a “cardio bunny”. I would lose myself on the treadmill, my iPod turned up to maximum and my Nikes crashing on the moving belt for up to 60 minutes straight. I used running as a means of escape. At first, it was to escape the fact that all my friends had gone away to college and I was stuck at home for another three weeks before I left, anxiously hearing all their exciting stories of new friends and the crazy parties they’d been attending. Once I arrived at college myself, I used running to escape from roommates. I could unwind from the stresses of classes, new spats with friends, and to forget how much I missed home. Sure, I lost a few pounds, but like most college freshman the number “fifteen” introduced itself despite my infatuation with running. Needless to say, eating a salad does not justify a slice of pizza on the side, a night of drinking keg beer cannot be erased by an elliptical machine, and (literally and figuratively) running on 3 hours of sleep does the body no good; in other words, the natural life of a college freshman is not that of a successful dieter or bodybuilder.

That lifestyle was great and fun for the time being, but my junior year of college I was over it. I was done with drinking with friends all weekend simply for the sake of saying I had a wild weekend when Monday morning came around. I was done feeling uncomfortable in my clothes and bathing suit. And it was always bathing suit season when you went to school in South Carolina. I still loved running, whether it was on the treadmill or hitting the pavement, but I felt like I was running in place (no pun intended). Eventually I found myself wishing I could convince myself to be anorexic- because I knew I was too much of a wimp to make myself binge and purge like a bulimic. In my mind I knew it was wrong and that that wasn’t really me, but I was willing to be wrong if it meant I could be skinny. I tried different fat burners without knowing what I was going into- thinking that one little diet pill could solve my issues. Don’t get me wrong- I was never obese. I never had serious health issues concerning my weight. My life was never in jeopardy due to the number that appeared on the scale or a food obsession that had gotten out of control. I was just severely unhappy with the way I looked.

I was ready for a serious change- ready to change my lifestyle for the purpose of a better body and feeling better about myself overall. As you have learned, I had somewhat of a spark of interest in fitness and exercise in the past. Looking back, I would call it a love affair with running. As most affairs end, running and I had a falling out. My satisfaction with running had diminished; I didn’t want to escape as I had before. I had a great relationship with a new boyfriend, I was happy where I was, and I was maturing into a responsible adult. In fact, it was my boyfriend who helped shape me into the fitness fanatic that I am today. He too was looking for a change- we were both outgrowing the typical college lifestyle and we both had an interest in working out. He helped me move on from running to lifting weights and we’ve helped each other evolve as goal-oriented bodybuilders.

It didn’t come to us overnight. At this time I was still a cardio bunny, but I had turned into a machine bunny too. I was doing pointless machine exercises after running for 45 minutes. My workouts had no meaning, no goal, and no precision. I was about as successful as I was when I was a freshman in college. Over time, I began to see what people refer to as “newbie gains”- or new muscle growth that has sparked due to lack of previous exercise. Newbie gains are extremely motivating and it’s the first sign of all your hard work paying off. Until three weeks later, you realize that you aren’t growing anymore. The muscles that had poked themselves through so prominently just three short weeks earlier seem small and insignificant. That’s when you know you need to change again. That’s when you know you’ve been bit by the bodybuilding bug.

And that’s when I began to fill myself with knowledge. I began to really read about bodybuilding and effective workouts, soaking up numerous articles and advice. My boyfriend was making himself more knowledgeable too, and by this point has pretty much figured out the science behind dieting and effective lifting. He taught me most of what I know and follow today. I had quickly said goodbye to my previous beliefs- relying on a cup of Special K and a side salad to get me through the day wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I learned what all the nutritional information on labels really meant, and what to look for and stay away from. I learned that going to the gym and the workout is merely 1/3 of the whole picture. I learned that the abs everyone wants cannot be achieved by doing 1000 crunches, but instead they are sculpted in the kitchen by the foods you eat. Going to the gym may take one or two hours out of your day, but every hour you are awake you have to be consciously aware of the state of your metabolism and what you put into your body as fuel. I had to let go of my obsession with the scale, and listen to the clues my body was giving me to adjust the all the factors.

The hardest thing to overcome was to let go of the pink dumbbells and pick up weight that was actually challenging. Many woman stay away from heavy weights and lift a lot of little weights for way too many repetitions. I myself had to learn that lifting like a guy would not give you the muscles a guy has- our feminine bodies do not possess the testosterone to grow bulky muscles- but instead it would help support lean muscle growth. I had to forget what the number on the scale said and tweak my diet by the way I looked in the mirror and how I felt. No longer was I to be a slave of the scale, instead I would use it as a tool for me instead of against me.

Let me clarify once again- I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, personal trainer, or professional bodybuilder. Instead, I have been transformed into a morphed version of all of these things. I am still learning more and more everyday about the sport and lifestyle of bodybuilding. In no way, shape, or form am I close to knowing it all or having my own body and diets figured out, but I’d like to think that my transformations have brought me a few steps forward. The art is ever changing and constantly evolving, just another piece to consider when trying to put the puzzle together.

Many people consider bodybuilding a man’s sport. In some respect, it is 100% a sport- you spend time training and practicing to compete in bodybuilding and figure competitions. But it does not discriminate women. Many women make careers and successfully compete in various competitions yearly. For me personally, it is more of a lifestyle. It is a full-time commitment. It is not a commitment for the weak or ill-willed. It is a commitment to seeing change in yourself, and the satisfaction and pride you feel when it’s being achieved in front of your eyes. It’s an addiction to modification, but in my opinion the most positive disease one can catch. And that is not something only a man can accomplish. Nothing is more motivating that coming back from a great workout and feeling absolutely exhausted, knowing that you worked your absolute hardest to come one step closer to your goal.

I have had to conquer many battles and overcome many speed bumps along the way, but it’s helped me come one more baby step closer to my goals. I’ve got a long journey ahead of me but you know what they say… it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

No Gym, No Problem!

When I began working out consistently about a year ago, I really wanted to join a gym. I think most people have a perception that gyms are the best place to get into shape. I was shocked, however, at the high cost of membership. Many gyms have a sign on fee, a monthly fee and even fees for classes or using amenities. I decided to build my own workout plan using online resources rather than shell out the money for a membership. Follow my guide to build your own fitness routine.

Set Your Goals

First, you want to set your own fitness goals. How much weight do you want to lose? Are you just looking to build endurance? How about learning to run? Once you have your goals set you can start to work towards them. My goal was to gain strength and loose some weight. Buy a journal or notebook to keep track of your progress. Another tool I use is MyFitnessPal which lets you track your workouts and your diet. It helps you estimate how many calories you burn doing each activity. Set up a doctor’s appointment and share your goals and make sure you are in healthy enough shape to start a fitness routine.

Start Small

A huge piece of advice I can offer is to start small. If you start working out full on right away, you will risk injuring yourself. A good goal is to start with twenty to thirty minutes of fitness per day every other day. You can slowly increase to more minutes per day and more workouts per week. What I liked about starting small is that I could add workouts throughout my day, like on my lunch break, instead of devoting a lot of time at the gym. You will want to make sure you have plenty of rest days, because that is when your body recovers and rebuilds muscle. I initially injured myself by working out for two or three hours at a time every day. It sidelined me for a few weeks, which ultimately set my goals back a few weeks, too.

Watch Videos

YouTube was a great resource for my workouts, and I simply searched for beginners workouts. Pick a style of workout that appeals to you. If you like cardio, choose a cardio workout, but if you’re into another type of fitness, choose that instead. If you can’t complete all of a video because it’s too challenging, take a break or modify it to your abilities. If you keep at it, eventually you will become good at that particular video and have to move on to more challenging work outs. I like to mix up my workouts and do yoga, pilates, cardio and strength training.

Use Your Body

Some workouts don’t require a video or instruction at all. If you can, take a short walk every day. It requires no equipment and is great not only for your body but nature can help calm your mind. I like taking a long walk when the weather is nice as a warm up to more intense workouts. Crunches, push ups, squats and other basic calisthenics don’t require equipment or instruction either. I like adding these into my workout as well, and set monthly goals for how many of each I can do. Its good to see improvement and is a fun way to challenge yourself.

Fitness is important to your health and it can help you lead a more exciting life. Working out has helped me lose weight, gain energy and also gain confidence. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a gym membership to get fit, just grab your computer or device and watch some videos or even just take a walk. You could soon be on your way to reaching your ultimate fitness goals and setting new ones.

Start Biking To Work

After moving and taking the bus to work for months, I realized that cycling might be a faster option. After all, biking to work is practically free, great for your body, good for the environment, and you save the hassles of being stuck in traffic or finding a parking space. Here are some factors to consider if you are thinking of taking your bike out of the garage and biking to the office.

Does it save you time?

Obviously, if you drive 30 minutes on the highway to get to work every day, cycling might not be for you. However, if you spend a lot of time on city streets or take intercity public transport, it might actually save you time to bike. Use a maps service to calculate the amount of time it would take you to drive, take public transport or bike from home to your destination. Also think about the amount of time you or the bus are stuck in traffic each day, and how long it takes to find a parking spot. You might find that biking is indeed faster. If not, it might still be worth biking because the amount of money you save every day if you are not paying for public transport or gas and parking.

Is the route safe?

Many major cities now have biking lanes on major streets, but some do not. Go over the route that you would cycle to work every day and make sure that it would be safe for you to ride. Look for things like badly maintained roads as cons, but consider lots of cyclists on the roads a good thing. When in doubt, talk to someone familiar with biking in your area for advice.

Do you know the laws?

Most state DMVs should be able to provide you with a manual on safe cycling. You should definitely read up before you go out on the road. There are lots of rules that cyclists need to follow if they want to safely share the roads with cars. This manual should teach you about the appropriate hand signals you will use, and laws about what equipment is required for cyclists. You can always contact the DMV if you have questions about how to legally and safely ride.

Do you have a good bike?

If you are planning on biking on a regular basis, it’s important that you have the right supplies. You’ll need a bike, obviously, but it’s important that your bike is up to the tasks of a regular commute. If it’s old and poorly maintained, you’ll need to take it to a repair shop to get tuned up. It’s also good to have a standard repair kit, a helmet and a reflexive vest for bad weather. You should also have a sturdy bike lock. For those of you that carry a briefcase or bag to work, investing in a basket might be a wise option. If you don’t own a bike, sporting good stores and independent retailers will be able to help you pick one out. If you only want to bike to work occasionally, there are also bike sharing and rental programs in many major cities.

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, hopefully you’ll be saving time, money, and the environment in no time by biking to work.

Benefits Of Using A Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers, devices that can measure your physical activity, are amazing gadgets that can increase wellness for Americans. If the entire nation would use fitness trackers, America would undergo a health renaissance. Three ways fitness trackers would solve America’s health problems would be reducing obesity, reducing cardiovascular issues, and increasing positive mental health.

Trackers to lose weight

Fitness trackers are fancy pedometers that track the amount of walking you do, how vigorously you do it, and gathers all that data into useful graphs on a website.

The key to these trackers is to make you aware of your movement, or lack thereof. Competition breeds success and fitness trackers allow you to compete with others who have the device.

Health books (like Sitting Kills, Moving Heals) suggest that daily walking can help maintain a healthy body weight along with improving overall wellness.

Having used my fitness tracker for two years, I can attest that it has increased my understanding of activity and has altered my habits. If I sit too long, I know to get up and do some moving around. Walking the dog is not a chore but a way to help goose my step count and keep my weight in check.

If all Americans used such a tracker, I imagine a much healthier country with fewer weight issues.

Walking to help the heart

We all know the images of people on a treadmill, pounding the machine, and pouring sweat. Such exertion is excellent cardiovascular conditioning. But we can’t run all day, and some experience joint pain from running.

The beauty of simply getting up and walking is that everyone can do it. Using a tracker, you can quickly accumulate steps.

The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 daily steps and states that 30 minutes of daily walking can reduce a person’s risk for heart disease. What is there to lose?

Simple walking can help keep hearts healthy. That could mean fewer people on expensive medication, fewer expensive medical tests, and lower healthcare costs. And of course, fighting off heart diseasewill make your life more productive.

Walking to boost mood

I love my daily walks outside. The natural light and clean air boost my mood. Oftentimes, my mind generates numerous ideas upon my return from the outdoors. I use my walks as part of my daily health routine, as a mood booster, and idea generator. And what drives me further to get outside? It is another way for my fitness tracker to register my activity!

Kelly McGonigal writes how just five minutes outside can boost mood. A ten-minute walk after each meal would be a wonderful way increase your step count and boost your mental outlook and moodIf fitness trackers can motivate people to take their walking outdoors then people will reap mental health benefits in addition to physical ones!

Getting Americans Onboard

I applaud fitness tracker companies and their devices. I would encourage local, state, and federal governments to look at supporting healthy lifestyles that include the use of fitness trackers. For a fraction of the cost of nationalized healthcare, government could launch a national fitness campaign to increase awareness of getting 10,000 daily steps and how trackers can help.

Health insurance companies could launch wellness programs that provide people with fitness trackers and reward those who walk at least 10,000 daily steps. People who are active should receive health premium deductions. This would provide a financial incentive to purchase and use fitness trackers.

There are no downsides to using these wonderful fitness gadgets. If more Americans would use the devices then we would be on the road to solving our national problems of obesity, heart issues, and instances of mild depression.

This is one technological advance that is helping fight our modern sedentary lifestyle.

Making Time For Exercise

Who has the time to exercise after putting in a full day of work, managing your children’s extracurricular activities, homework, bath and other daily routines, walking the dog, cooking a [healthy?] dinner for the family and so on ad nauseam? Well, you do – make it so!

Yes, I KNOW you’re busy, stressed out and already spread way too thin time-wise. However, exercise is essential for your health and should be considered a mandatory part of your weekly if not daily routine. Sadly, personal fitness is usually the first thing busy moms sacrifice when they are over burdened and under pressure. Ironically, it is exercise that will actually help you deal more effectively with the physical and psychological demands of a hectic life.

Even a few 10-minute sessions a day can lead to increased stamina as well as a long list of benefits to the mind, body and spirit. Here are some ways exercise can stimulate the energy level of you harried Modern Moms out there:

Let go of the guilt and schedule your exercise time – Simply put, don’t ignore your personal needs. Exercise is one of the best ways to not only enhance your energy but preserve your sanity. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have energy or patience for anyone else.

Exercise first thing in the morning to jump start your day – Your chances of sticking to your program increase significantly if you exercise in the morning compared to later in the day when excuses and fatigue take over. Your metabolism will be elevated for more than 7 hours following a one hour morning workout, so you will have more stamina to take you through the day.

Add activity to your work day – To renew your vigor in the day to day grind, find a better way to commute to work, like walking, biking, parking a mile from the office or getting off a train stop early. You’ll still be high on natural endorphins while everyone else is working on their second cup of coffee. Eliminating some of the modern conveniences can burn up to an additional 800 calories a week.

Make wholesome and nutritious food choices – You are more likely to eat healthier meals if you exercise. The last thing you will want to do is eat a heavy meal after getting the blood pumping through your veins. Ultimately, eating more nutritious food along with regular exercise will lead to weight loss, which will decrease the demands on your body and increase your energy and self -esteem drastically.

Drink Plenty of water – Keep hydrated before, during and after exercise. Your body is made up primarily of water, and while water does not have calories to provide energy, it contributes to weight loss and assists your digestive system. Drinking ample amounts of water will keep the toxins flowing right out of your body.

Find creative ways to integrate family time with exercise – Your entire family will be healthier and more energized as a result of physical activity. Don’t be a bystander at the playground. Get up and join in the activities by pushing a jogging stroller, hitting the hiking trails, running the bases, biking around the neighborhood, climbing the jungle gym or swimming in the lake. As an added perk, your kids will think you’re cool.

Get your zzz’s – Regular exercise will lead to more quality sleep and require you to sleep less. If you exercise early in the day, you will be naturally tired by bedtime and will have no problem falling into a deep slumber.

Try Yoga – Raise your energy levels and ability to concentrate with the deep breathing techniques used in yoga. Yoga builds balance, coordination, strength, and it is energizing and wonderfully de-stressing as well. Perfect for decompressing after an ultra hectic day!

Exercise will help to fortify you against colds and flu – People who participate in a regular exercise program are less likely to come down with a cold or be debilitated by one. Exercisers report less symptoms and quicker recoveries from colds.

Ten Ninja Like Methods For Burning Extra Calories

Perhaps you’ve heard it before: fitness experts recommend cardio exercise for 30 minutes at least three times a week. Between driving to work, going to the grocery store, and driving the carpool, you may be wondering, “Who has that kind of time?”

Not to worry, though. Our bodies are constantly burning calories for every day living – including breathing and digesting food. Even sleeping burns about 70 calories per hour. That said, if running on a treadmill is out of the question, not to worry – there are plenty of little things you can do each day to amount to the same number of calories burned:

1.) Park in the farthest spot away. If you’re in a bit of a hurry this is even better – you’ll be forced to pick up the pace.

2.) Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you get a lunch break, run up and down the stairs in the back stairwell. Don’t forget to use the stairs again when you take your lunch back to your office!

3.) Go for regular walks with your dog. If you don’t have one, go along with a friend and her dog. If you have kids, bring them along – their high energy levels will force you to keep up – and keep up your heartrate!

4.) Take time out to finally mow the lawn, trim hedges or plant new flowers. If you’ve been putting off yardwork for sometime, now’s the time to kill many birds in one stone. You can cross one more thing off that’s been nagging at the back of your mind. Using a pushmower takes just a bit more sweaty effort. Last but not least, you’ll be the proud owner of a beautiful yard.

5.) Move around while you watch TV. Don’t just sit there! Lift 5-10 pound weights while you watch your favorite shows. Complete 10-rep sets of pushups and crunches during commercial breaks. Amp up any stretching you do with resistance bands.

6.) Chew gum. While chewing itself won’t burn a great number of calories, studies have shown that gum-chewers tend to drink more water a day than their non-chewing counterparts. Chewing gum also triggers the digestive process and thus may boost metabolism.

7.) Eat spicy foods. Jalapenos and chili peppers not only improve blood circulation (and burn calories!) but spicy food will also encourage you to drink more water.

8.) Strengthen your core while driving. Stuck in traffic? Slowly crunch your abs in… then out. Focus on controlled movements. You’ve got nothing better to do, right?

9.) Fuel up before a workout. Drink an iced coffee with a piece of fruit about 30 minutes before a workout. The extra boost will increase endurance.

10.) Go for a 10-minute jog in the A.M. Those who work out early kickstart their metabolism that carries over the rest of the day. If you can’t stand the thought of getting up extra early, remember: those who exercise sleep better at night and wake up feeling more rested.

Introduction To Cross Training

Cross training works the entire body in one workout. Both fitness beginners and gurus use the cross training techniques to improve muscle strength and endurance and burn fat. At the heart of cross training is muscle confusion. Confusing the muscle creates a fat burning powerhouse that never “gets used” to the workout.

The body is very smart. From the first moments of starting a new exercise routine, the body begins to learn the movements and remember the program. After a short while, the total number of calories burned during the workout starts to lessen and eventually, the same benefit the body was getting from the workout is lost. Muscle confusion and cross training stop this from happening.

What is Cross Training?

Cross training most commonly consists of three exercises – swimming, running and cycling. Each of these exercises use the same major muscle groups but in different ways. This is where the huge benefit is born. The more variety included in a workout routine, the more calories the body will burn and continue to burn over time.

Further breaking down cross training, the programs can be broken into three categories. Category one is muscle endurance. Category two is muscle strength and category three is muscle stretching.

Muscle endurance is used to build up the long term strength of the muscles. The heart, for instance, will become more fit over time when cardio is done daily. The same goes for strength exercises and stretching exercises.

Cross training is the ultimate exercise to increase calorie burn and keep the body in fat burning mode throughout the daily workout. The constantly changing series of exercises continues to confuse the muscles which means longevity for the routine.

Building Strength In Your Glutes

Let’s face it shall we? Everyone wants a tight and toned butt. But how to effectively get there in your workout routine is not always obvious. Let’s take a look at the exercises I’ve had the best luck with:

Running. Not only great for your cardiovascular system but absolutely rips up your legs and buttocks. In my personal opinion and experience nothing tons your lower body like running. Running can take various forms. I combine several types of running throughout my weekly routines. My favorite type of running is endurance running. I can get into a rhythm and go for what feels like forever. I’ve been known to refer to it as “taking a ride on my legs” — its where I do my deepest thinking too. However, other types of running I engage in include incorporating hills into my endurance runs, sprint interval training and hillsprints. Any of these are great for legs and glutes

Stair climbing. I’m not talking about those insanely boring stair stepper machines either. I’m talking about good old fashioned stairwells. And its not hard to do or figure out. Just get to a stairwell and start climbing! And keep climbing. If you run out of steps because you got to the top, go DOWN. If you have an elevator beside the stairwell, take it down and get back on your upward climb FAST. Or just climb down to train your quads some more. Climbing down can be hard too, just try it!!

Hiking. I’m talking about hiking on a mountain or at least a really hilly area. I’m not talking about a casual stroll through the woods here. Find somewhere with a steep incline and hike your way to the top of it. Feel those glutes and quads burn!

Squats. Get under that barbell and make sure your form is correct and just go for it. I’ve never met a better weight lifting exercise not only for giving your backside a fantastic lift but for full body work as well! If you can’t manage a barbell, then grab the heaviest dumbbells you can manage and hold them at your sides. No, ladies, you will NOT bulk up. If you want a tight, taut butt get over your silly fear, grab some iron and start squatting.

Lunges. Same deal here. Great for lower body and buttocks!! Make sure you grab some dumbbells and make it heavy. Try Split Squats as an alternative, too.

Try any and all of these ideas and be fascinated while you watch your butt get rock hard in no time.

Three Standing Abdominal Excercises

Experts often point to weak core muscle structure as the root cause for hip and back pain and injuries to the lower extremities. Strengthen your core with these three tummy toners performed in a vertical position.

Side to Sides

Grab a dumb bell or medicine ball and stand with feet hip width apart. Pull tummy muscles in and elongate spine. With bent elbows, hold weight about 12 inches from body. Rotate rib cage and shoulders from left to right, keeping hips stable.

Standing Cable Crunches

Using a cable column, place rope handle above shoulders. Stand with tail bone against column. Place rope over shoulders, holding ends in hands against upper chest. Draw in tummy and crunch forward using abs, not your hands, to pull. Select a moderate weight that enables you to maintain form without involving the lower back.

Tick Tocks

Holding a 4-foot dowel or broomstick, fully extend arms overhead with feet positioned a little more than shoulder width apart. Holding tummy tight and facing forward, bend as far to the right as you can. Feel the stretch along the sides of your body. Return to start and repeat on left.

Exercise strengthens and firms muscles, but to see a ‘six pack’ you must reduce body fat. Make it happen by changing your diet and performing fat-burning aerobic exercises several days per week.

Tips For Post Workout Recovery

So, you finally made the decision to join the health club. Full of exuberance, good intentions, and high hopes of sculpting the firm, toned body of your dreams, you pushed yourself to the limit. Now, you’re paying for it. Every muscle in your body aches and the thought of hitting those exercise machines sounds about as appealing as running your fingernails across a chalkboard. Is there anything you can do to relieve soreness after a workout and prevent it in the future?

What Causes Soreness after a Workout?

When you work unconditioned muscles using resistance, the muscles are stretched which causes small, microscopic tears to form. These small tears will eventually be repaired and the muscles will become stronger and better toned. In the meantime, the overworked muscles become inflamed and swollen which leads to soreness pain. Soreness after a workout, sometimes called delayed onset muscle soreness, usually appears within twelve to forty-eight hours after strenuous exercise and can last up to a week.

Should You Continue to Exercise?

With this type of delayed onset muscle soreness, it’s tempting to move around as little as possible, but this isn’t advisable. Muscles that are sore can quickly become stiff when held in one place for too long. It’s best to avoid strenuous activity, but light stretching, or a yoga class can help to reduce stiffness and make the post-workout soreness feel better.

How Do You Treat Soreness After a Workout?

One effective treatment is to relax in a warm bath to which you’ve added cup of Epsom salts. The¬†magnesium in the Epsom salts helps to reduce swelling and relax sore muscles naturally; and the feeling of stretching out in the warm bath water can be soothing and relaxing. Another natural strategy to relieve soreness after a workout is massage. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training showed that massage therapy reduced delayed onset muscle soreness. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever.

What about Medications?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications help with the pain and inflammation, but if you prefer the natural route, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that tart cherry juice can reduce pain and soreness after a workout. Tart cherries inhibit Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes, enzymes associated with inflammation, in much the same way as prescription NSAIDs without the stomach upset.

How Can You Prevent Soreness After a Workout?

To avoid feeling like a Mack truck ran over you in the future, don’t do too much exercise too quickly. Muscles need time to adapt to the stress of a workout. It’s okay to workout hard, but work up to it gradually. Keep in mind that a fit, toned body is never built in a day. Take a slowly and do it without injury.