Each week I’ll answer your strength training and nutrition questions in this feature. Sure, you can Google your heart away for any ole question these days, so why should you ask me? Because you want the opinion of someone who knows what it’s like to be a woman in the weight room. Because you can trust that I walk the talk. And I don’t mess around with fads, ads, or bullshit.
A: I hear this a lot from active people, and it’s not always because of lifting. But being chronically injured doesn’t have to be a inescapable consequence of your active lifestyle or love of lifting.
Even without knowing anything about you, I’m betting one or more of these reasons is to blame:
- You’re overdoing it. Your body doesn’t have a chance to recover between exercise sessions, so it breaks down
- You have muscle imbalances or old injuries that haven’t been addressed.
- Your strength-training technique/form sucks in some way.
- Something is not right with what you’re doing outside the weight room.
(If you’re a runner, there could be a lot of reasons why you’re hurting. But that’s beyond the scope of this post.)
Overdoing it is the most common reason for injuries, in my experience. You can’t do classes on top of running, on top of HIIT, on top of lifting, etc. We get a bit overenthusiastic about losing weight, that adrenaline rush, or whatever. Or we think it’s all or nothing – balls-to-the-walls or don’t bother.
If this is you, it’s time to take a step back. Don’t worry, you won’t “lose everything.” You can step back without compromising your gains. Evaluate your training schedule – do you take at least one full day of rest per week? Do you let muscles recover for 48-72 hours before training them again, including between sports, lifting, running, and classes?
Once you evaluate your real recovery process, integrate more rest if needed and focus on technique. Does it hurt when you train, and if so, are you ignoring it? Ask for help critiquing your form or record yourself. We’re all students of lifting – if you think you know it all and suffer from pain, you need to wake up and get real.
Chronic injuries and pain are your body’s way of saying something’s wrong. Listen or pay the consequences.
Q: How much should I eat of protein, carbs, and fat to build muscle?
A. How much you eat and what you eat are pretty dang important to muscle building. Women need approximately 100-300 extra calories per day to build muscle (this varies depending on who you talk to). You also need about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, but again, opinions vary. I also like using percentages to calculate macros. For example, I might give a lean woman a 45% carb/30% protein/25% ratio because lean people may tolerate carbs better and may not tolerate fats as well as someone who’s got weight to lose.
But the real question is: After you have the numbers, can you follow through? Most women have a very tough time eating more for muscle (which I talk about in THIS video). Many struggle with getting enough protein, too. We’re conditioned to eat like birds – salads and Saltines. If you eat that way, you can train your ass off and never build any new muscle. So start with this process to work out your idea numbers:
- Estimate your total daily energy expenditure and macros
- Track your food
- Train hard
- Keep assessing!
This Week’s Training
This section should be titled, “This Week’s Surgery,” haha. As I said in last week’s update, I had my exchange surgery last week. At my post-op appointment the doctor said I could possibly resume physical therapy strength exercises in 2-3 weeks. Aside from some soreness and muscle spasms, I’m feeling great.
And I’m taking it day by day. A few more weeks is nothing to me when you figure I’ve been away from the gym for 11 weeks now. I knew what I was in for, and it’s worth it to me not to have to worry about breast cancer or continued biopsies. Yes, I miss the gym like crazy, but I’m feeling the nearness of returning now. If all goes well, I’m in the home stretch. My estimate is that I’ll return to “real” lifting in early July. In the meantime, I’ll continue to help clients get to their goals and live vicariously through the motivated, pumped people I follow and who follow me.
What of muscle mass? That has always been an ongoing journey. I’ll start where I am and enjoy the process, as I talked about in this Facebook post. I have a lot to look forward to, and so do you!
This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.