Troubleshooting

July 16th, 2008  |  Published in Doh! and ouch, Tips, tricks & tools  |  28 Comments

So, you’ve gotten the ball rolling and have tried your best to follow my advice, but dangnabit, you’re just not seeing the results you want. Or perhaps you feel like you’re doing something all wrong. Don’t be embarrassed about it! Most beginners, by virtue of being beginners, have trouble with one thing or another. I’ve screwed up in just about every way there is.

One of the main things that beginners need to learn is to trust their instincts. If you feel like something is wrong, and I don’t mean a general “Gee, this squat makes me feel kinda funny barfy-like” sensation, but rather a sudden, “Uh-oh, that ain’t right” insight, then STOP immediately! See the injury page for more on distinguishing between good and bad pain. Luckily, most problems in the gym are not really about injury, but more about not getting optimal results.

The second thing beginners need to understand is the importance of learning from mistakes. It’s not stupid to make a mistake, but it is stupid to make that mistake again and again and again without ever trying to use that mistake as an opportunity to do better next time. I once heard someone say that there is no failure, only feedback. Use your performance as output and evidence that guides you to make better decisions in future.

Finally, beginners benefit from setting short- and long-term goals. If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, how do you know if you’re succeeding or not? You need to be able to monitor your progress on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. I like to work in short cycles of 4-6 weeks. This is a long enough period for me to make noticeable gains, but not so long that I go on doing something mediocre forever without ever clueing in. At the end of each cycle, I look back on what I was doing, and evaluate it. Did I get the results I wanted? If so, what was I doing right? If not, what could I have done better? What changes could I make both for variety and improvement? What did I like and not like about the exercises, split, schedule, etc.? I also check my progress within the cycle itself, noting during workouts how I felt, which exercises didn’t really work very well, and so forth. For example, one day I might have a bad workout because I didn’t eat properly beforehand; I can see that immediately and remember that for next time. Or I might have felt a certain exercise was causing bad pain, so I can amend it for next time or strike it altogether and substitute something else. Your goal is to find a good balance of consistency and change. You want to stick with something long enough to see if it works, but you also want to notice what things can be altered in the short- or long-term.

Now that I’ve given you a nice lecture, have a gander at this handy troubleshooting guide and see if you can find a solution to your problem. If you don’t see anything useful here, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to help.

problem: strength gains slow or stalled

solution:

  1. Diet. This is always the first place you should look. Are you eating enough? Don’t underestimate how much you need. Try eating a bit more for a week or two, particularly concentrating on getting more protein and fat, and see if you notice any improvement.
  2. Overtraining. Are you weight training heavily more than 4 days a week? Are you trying to do too much in every workout? Weight workouts should be no more than 45-60 minutes, and the intensity should not be maximal every time.
  3. Routine. Are you using compound movements such as squats and rows? Are you lifting heavily enough to challenge you but not so much that you can’t control it, or end up lying on the floor afterwards? You need a weight range that is neither too heavy nor too light. Are you focused on what you are doing?
  4. Rest. Are you getting enough sleep? Have you been sick recently? Is there stress in your life, whether mental, emotional, or physical? Your body can only devote so many resources towards strength gains, and if it has to allocate energy to solving various other problems, your workouts will suffer. You can either decide to eliminate or minimize the stress somehow, or if that’s not possible try to give yourself more rest and allow yourself to be mediocre in the gym till the stress has passed.
  5. Change. Have you varied the intensity of your training in the last 2-3 months? Have you been doing same-old, same-old for ages now? Intensity variation and progressive resistance (adding weight/difficulty over time) are important. Change one or more of these variables in your program: weight, rep tempo, number of reps, number of sets, rest intervals, exercise type, or workout split.
  6. Timing. How slow is slow? As a beginner you will make gains with every workout. As you progress those gains will diminish, but they should still be occurring every 1-3 workouts, whether those gains are an extra rep or two, an increase in weight, a fuller range of motion, an ability to handle a slower tempo.

problem: fat loss slow or stalled

solution:

  1. You may not actually have a problem. Fat loss is usually no more than 0.5 to 2 lbs weekly. Some weeks you won’t lose anything. The body is just like that. It doesn’t operate using nice mathematical systems. Faster weight loss will often happen if you begin at a higher bodyfat level. The closer you are to your ideal bodyfat level, the slower your fat loss will be. If you are trying to do more than that you will chew through muscle, lose mainly good lean body mass, and put your body into starvation mode (which will come back to bite you on the ass when your appetite hormones kick in to compensate). Understand that the scale is not always the best guide to fat loss. Since muscle is denser than fat, you may register a weight plateau or even a slight gain despite an actual fat loss. For a more accurate gauge of progress, use calipers, measuring tape, and a mirror. Take your measurements once every 1-2 weeks, not daily, and take them in the same way each time (I always do mine first thing in the morning since at the end of the day I’ve added about 2-5 lbs of water weight). Allow also for the temporary water weight fluctuations of your menstrual cycle.
  2. Diet. Try cutting out all simple sugars and starches such as pasta, bread, potatoes, rice, sugar, pastries, etc. Fill in the gaps in your meals with more lean protein and fruit/veggies. You want to keep your caloric intake at about 9-12 x bodyweight. If you are sure that you have not dropped your calories too low, try eating slightly smaller portions more frequently. Do not try to purge fat from your diet; rather, try to get fat in the form of essential fatty acids like flax seed, hemp, or Udo’s Choice oil (believe it or not, eating these can actually help you drop fat).
  3. Cardio. If you’re doing regular, low/moderate-intensity cardio, change 2-3 of those sessions per week to interval training.
  4. Incorporate a regular “refeed” period where you eat 14-16 x bodyweight in calories for 24 to 48 hours. This helps “reset” the hormonal mechanisms that are responsible for preventing what your body perceives as starvation. The leaner you are, the more frequently you’ll need to refeed, but in general, once a week is probably OK for most folks. Usually it works best to pick a day or two on the weekend to do this, since it also fits with many people’s lifestyle.
  5. Timing. Fat loss generally begins to happen quickly, especially (as I note above) if you begin at a point which is much higher than your ideal bodyfat level, then tapers off the longer you do it. Very overfat folks can lose up to 5 lbs. per week in the beginning with no ill effects, because 5 lbs. represents such a small amount of their overall mass. Later on, as bodyfat levels drop, 5 lbs. becomes a larger piece of the whole. It’s not uncommon to plateau for a couple of weeks too, then see a sudden drop. Have patience.

problem: squats make you want to hurl your cookies/roll into the fetal position/cry for mommy

solution:.

  1. Don’t panic. First of all, this is normal.
  2. Have patience. Squats become relatively easier as you get better at them. Stick to them; they are the grandmammy of all great exercises and have major benefits.
  3. Sip (don’t chug) a sports drink during your leg workout. This will help keep your blood sugar level at a reasonably constant rate.
  4. Eat beforehand, or don’t eat beforehand. Some people say that doing squats with anything in their tummy is barf city. I find it the other way around: if I don’t have a small meal within 60-90 minutes of squatting, it’ll be a terrible workout. Figure out what works for you.
  5. Have a couple of antacids before the workout. This seems to work for some people.

For more ideas, see the Effluvia page.

problem: this exercise hurts in a bad way!

solution:

  1. Always, always, always check your form! It is the first place you should look to determine why an exercise doesn’t feel right.
  2. If after following my suggestions below, the exercise still hurts, don’t do it. Find a substitute. And if difficulties persist, check with your doctor/physical therapist to see if you have an underlying medical problem. Don’t try to work through serious pain. It will only make things worse.
  3. Stretch around the joints that are giving you difficulty. Sometimes this can make all the difference.
  4. Try using a lighter weight for the exercises. Not all exercises are optimal with lower reps.

problem sites:

Shoulders

Main culprits:

1. Bench press. If it hurts your shoulders, try switching to dumbbells instead of a bar or machine. Do supplemental shoulder exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint, and don’t forget to include rotator cuff exercises.

2. Behind the neck presses or pulldowns. Just don’t do them. Pull in front of your head instead.

3. Dips. Try using a narrower set of bars (many gyms have a V-bar instead of bars that are parallel, so that you can use whatever width you like). Don’t go down below a 90-degree elbow bend. Use lighter weights (if you are using weight) or an assisted dip machine to allow you to work in a higher rep range.

Elbows

Main culprits:

1. Triceps extension. This includes lying presses, cable pressdowns, etc. If it hurts your elbows, don’t lock them.

2. Bench press. Same advice: don’t lock elbows.

Wrists

Main culprits:

1. Upright rows. Switch to a wider grip and a lighter weight. Or avoid this exercise.

2. Pullups/Pulldowns. Try a wrist wrap for the time being, and incorporate some grip work into your workout to strengthen wrists. Avoid, if you can, movements that jerk or pull at your wrists suddenly. Try to keep wrists straight as much as possible.

3. Biceps curl. Try using an E-Z curl bar (the zig-zaggy bar) and making sure wrists stay straight.

Knees

Main culprits:

1. Leg extensions. These are a double-edged sword. They can be a good exercise for healing knee problems, and for causing knee problems. They can help build the vastus medialis, which if it is weak is a prime cause of knee problems like patellarfemoral syndrome, chondromalacia, etc. To use them remedially, only use light weight and only work in the top 1/3 of the rep (from about 120 degree bend in knee to straight). If you are prone to knee problems, never begin a leg extension with leg bent more than 90 degrees, and use lighter weight.

2. Squats. As I said above, and on my injury page, problems here are usually a result of strength imbalances. Try varying your stance, including the degree of toe turnout, and building up the vastus medialis. Also check to see that your knees are not drifting out over your toes. If squatting deeply really hurts, then don’t do it. Front squats and/or stepups are usually good alternatives.

Lower back

Main culprits:

1. Squats. Lift with your legs, not with your back. Use lighter weight, and try to keep your back as upright as you can with a natural arch (women often have to lean forward a bit more). Do not round your upper back as you come up.

2. Deadlifts. Same advice. The drive comes from your legs, hips, and glutes. Back should be as straight (not necessarily upright) as possible with a natural arch in the lower back. At the top of the rep, squeeze your hips and glutes in a sort of pelvic tilt to drive the hips forward. As the hips come forward, the back straightens on its own. Use lighter weight till you get used to this sensation. When the weight is too heavy people are tempted to haul with their back too much. Think of your arms are just hooks from which to hang the weight. They should do nothing but keep the weight from falling out of your grip.

3. Weak lower back. Try adding in some extra lower back work and cutting back on squats and deadlifts for a little while until your weak link catches up. Don’t use good mornings if you are prone to problems; instead use slow, controlled back hyperextensions. Also make sure abs are strong. A strong abdominal and lower back column is your preventive measure against injury.

4. Lifestyle factors. Do you sit slouching at work? Do you work out immediately after getting up in the morning, when the tissues of the back are more sluggish in their response and prone to injury? Do you perform household lifting tasks with poor form, including rounding the upper and/or lower back? Examine risk factors outside the gym.

problem: boredom, lack of motivation

solution:

  1. Check out my page on getting motivated as well as on setting goals and try some of the tips there.
  2. Are you overtrained? See above.
  3. Plan ahead. If you just go into the gym and wander around waiting for inspiration to strike you’re going to have a difficult time maintaining a consistent effort. Make a detailed plan of attack and stick to it. Get into the gym, train hard, then get out. Eliminate distractions and workout destroyers. Pack your gym stuff well in advance of hitting the gym so you can’t use the “oh-well-I-forgot-my-gym-stuff” excuse. Keep some extra stuff in the trunk of your car, or your locker, or under your desk at work, if you can.
  4. Are you having fun with your workouts? If each trip to the gym is pure unadulterated torture and ennui, then you’ll have to rethink your plans. Find an activity that you enjoy to supplement your weight workouts and to give those workouts some meaning. If you like cycling, for example, remember that squats will help you when you hit those hills.
  5. Get involved in learning a new and challenging skill, sport, or activity, such as Olympic lifting or kick boxing. Try a new exercise. Experiment with different kinds of workouts. Novelty is the enemy of boredom.
  6. Get a workout partner. Sometimes just having to be somewhere to meet someone can get you going. A good partner can motivate as well as entertain you between sets and make the gym a positive experience. It can be lonely being one of the few, or even the only woman at your gym who trains seriously with weights. Find a supportive community wherever possible.
  7. Some people absolutely swear by their iPod or mp3 player. Having music that makes you want to tear up the gym with your teeth is always a plus. I think any alternative to the cheese they play in most gyms is an improvement.

problem: bad workout

solution:

  1. Don’t get discouraged – get angry! Transform frustration into creative energy. Finish the workout as best you can. Sometimes workouts that start badly manage to end on a good note.
  2. Figure out why you had a bad workout. Are you under stress, did you eat enough, did you get enough sleep the night before, etc.? Then take steps to eliminate these factors next time. And there WILL be a next time… bad workouts are like falling off a horse: you just have to get back on again.
  3. Bad workouts happen to the best of us. Sometimes the mojo just isn’t working. If this happens once in a while, get through it as best you can, then try to avoid it next time. If it happens often, look at possible overtraining.

problem: fear and self-doubt

solution:

  1. This is the biggest, most evil bugbear in the gym. We doubt our capacities and skill, particularly if we consider ourselves nonathletes. The gym is full of large scary guys who seem to know what they are doing, and who we fear will laugh openly at us if we screw up. Remember that you have a right to be in the gym, and claim your space.
  2. If you can afford it, get a trainer to show you the ropes. Familiarize yourself with the equipment, including the squat rack/cage and deadlift platform. Keep your eyes open and observe what others are doing, but don’t be deceived–the majority of people in the gym aren’t doing things quite right, and many are screwing up substantially. Hit the bookstore or local library and get out every book on strength training you can find. I particularly recommend anything by Fred “Dr. Squat” Hatfield, Stuart McRobert, and Bill Pearl (Dr. Squat and Bill Pearl also have great websites). Look at ExRx too; they have an excellent section for beginners.
  3. Try hitting the gym when there are few people there. For my first attempt at squatting, I went to the gym early in the morning when it was nearly empty. This made me feel less shy about possibly messing up and I was able to concentrate on attempting the exercise.
  4. Celebrate each small success. Did you add 5 lbs. to your bench press? Did you lose 0.5% bodyfat? Did you try something new? Each workout affords the opportunity to celebrate achievements. You are only competing against yourself, so don’t get down about how much you’re not doing. Get excited about how much you can do already, and by how much you’re going to do in future.
    Once you’ve done your homework, trust yourself. Allow yourself to make screwups, but know that you’ve done some research and know what you’re doing. Knowledge is power, after all.

Responses

  1. Weezer says:

    February 28th, 2009at 10:01 am(#)

    thanks so much for your tips. I only started weights and a fitness program (at 40) as a New Year’s resolution, so it hasn’t been long. I seemed to notice a big difference in the first month but feels like not much has happened since. Thanks for your info, I’ll keep at it. many thanks

  2. Leslie says:

    March 2nd, 2009at 12:36 am(#)

    i really enjoyed this article, especially the last part as it speaks volumes to me. After going to an all women gym for years, which only had a smith machine, I started going to a giant coed gym where I know no one and all the men scare me. I stepped up to that squat rack the other day and felt impowered! but still, everytime i walk into the gym, i have a mild panic attack inside that I will fail… but everyday I feel better and better and then I do it and feel great!

  3. Mistress Krista says:

    March 2nd, 2009at 6:01 am(#)

    Try failing on purpose one day. Set your safety bars in the cage, use a weight that’s challenging yet safe (ie your legs will fail before your low back), and rep it out till you have to leave it on the bars. You’ll realize it’s not so bad. You just crawl out from underneath, the world doesn’t end, probably nobody notices, and suddenly your fear will be gone.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    March 2nd, 2009at 3:34 pm(#)

    About refeeding — is that a good idea for everyone who’s training, or just for people who are normal/a little overweight? About once a week I get the urge to eat more than usual, but a) 2700-3100 calories sounds like an awful lot and b) I’m worried that all those super-logical arguments in favor of it are actually coming from my stomach.

  5. Mistress Krista says:

    March 2nd, 2009at 4:35 pm(#)

    Refeeding is recommended for most folks who are normally in a significant calorie deficit. If you’re eating, say, 100-300 calories less than normal, you probably don’t need to refeed. If you’re doing something like 8 to 10 times bodyweight in daily calories, and you’re not obese (which affects hormonal response to deficits — takes the brain longer to clue in as starting leptin levels are likely higher), then yes, you should refeed once a week. No need to go crazy; 13-15 x bodyweight will probably do.

    On the other hand if you don’t really feel the urge for it, don’t worry about it. I often suggest that folks respond to hunger rather than a calendar schedule, at least when it comes to NOT eating (since most of us are wired to eat more than we need in situations of abundance).

    Good call on the stomach skepticism though. It can produce a variety of very logical-sounding whining.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    March 2nd, 2009at 6:09 pm(#)

    Thanks for the prompt advice — helps me figure out what’s for dinner.

    I’m doing between 7-8x bodyweight, medium-low carbs, and usually that’s enough to satisfy me — I have an obnoxiously low metabolism — but once in a while I just wake up starving. It’s hard to distinguish “eat more because I need it” from “eat more because I want cake,” but I think I’m going to go up to 10x for starters and see how that works out.

  7. Ariel says:

    September 29th, 2009at 5:34 pm(#)

    Thank you so much for this site, and especially for your philosophy. I couldn’t find the information I needed anywhere from someone I consider reliable, so I thought I’d see if you had a moment.

    I’ve returned to the weight room after 5 years serving as a desk-jockey. My embarrassment over my lack of strength notwithstanding, things have been going well.

    Then I tried lunges. My knees are fine, but my non-working leg prevents me from going through a full range of motion – about 2/3 of the way down, my femur feels like it’s going to pop through the front of my quad. (weight vs. bodyweight makes no difference)

    Internet research has informed me that it’s probably my Rectus Femoris having flexibility issues due to my sedentary habits.

    I’ve now got an arsenal of stretches, but since what I REALLY want to do is work my way up to pistol squats, (standard backsquats present no problems, even past parallel) I don’t want to give up on the mother of all single-leg exercises.

    Sorry for the TL:DR.

    My question is: aside from stretching, can I continue to lunge with a limited range of motion until flexibility improves? If not, are there other exercises I should do to develop the strength I need without putting my entire leg program on hold ’til this is corrected?

  8. Mistress Krista says:

    September 30th, 2009at 6:04 am(#)

    Hi Ariel, sure, you can do that. Basically with mobility, you work up to the edge of your pain-free range of motion, and over time seek to expand that range. Try starting every workout with 10-15 unweighted walking lunges as a mobility warmup.

    Do be sure your front knee is not pushing too far over the toes and that your weight is behind the front heel (rather than directly over the foot or worse, the toes). And keep torso upright rather than leaning forwards. For more hip opening, squeeze the glute of the rear leg as you descend/ascend. Or even raise the arm on the side of the rear leg (thus, if right leg is behind you, raise R arm overhead).

  9. Ariel says:

    September 30th, 2009at 9:22 am(#)

    Thank you so much, those were EXACTLY the kind of tips I was hoping for.

    I’ll keep at it!

    Thanks again for your site, your philosophy, and your general badassery. :)

  10. jane says:

    October 11th, 2009at 9:16 pm(#)

    i’m just beginning to work out again. why do am I feeling nauseous after working out? i’ve been doing short jogs (about 30-40 min) and feel a bit queasy afterwards. any suggestions? as you mentioned with the squats having a similar effect, will this improve after time and continued effort? thanks!

  11. Maria says:

    October 23rd, 2009at 9:24 pm(#)

    Hi there Krista, thanks for the fabulous site and articles.

    I’ve recently started working out at the gym (again). In 2 weeks I’ve dropped 5lb BUT my measurements seem to be the same and my clothes don’t feel looser.

    I weigh 147lb and am really short (5’0), so this type of weight loss usually shows straight away on me.

    I’ve been doing Pump 2 times a week, free weights 2 times a week, doing around 8 – 10 reps with the heaviest weight I can manage without losing form, and 2 1 hour walks, at medium pace.

    What do you think is going on?

    I think I’m a classic endo – hourglass, puts on weight easily, and in the past only extreme exercise (like surfing for 8 hours over one weekend) would result in any muscles showing. I’m 44 and have been doing the CSIRO diet (it’s an Australian diet) which is 250g protein food, 3 slices bread, 30g cheese, 2 fruit, unlimited veggies, 15g oil/butter.

    Thanks!

    Maria

  12. Mistress Krista says:

    October 25th, 2009at 8:26 am(#)

    Maria, what do I think is going on? I think you need to wait longer than 2 weeks. :) If you’re controlling your carb intake you’ve probably dropped some water. Weight/fat loss, contrary to what people imagine, happens slowly. Maybe you’ll see noticeable change in 2 weeks, but very likely you have to understand this on the scale of months rather than days.

  13. Tanie says:

    February 22nd, 2010at 9:37 pm(#)

    Thanks for the tips on perhaps gaining weight. I lost 40lb before hitting the weights and in the last 6 weeks I have seen serious changes in my body but the scale says I have gained 6lb! I can SEE the change, others can SEE the changes but it was hard for me to “know” I am doing well and still see that scale telling me I gained weight. I am going to lay off using the scale, and keep on lifting!

  14. Mistress Krista says:

    March 12th, 2010at 8:20 am(#)

    Jane: See here.

  15. Cathy Rerese says:

    May 5th, 2010at 12:58 pm(#)

    Thanks Krista for writing about wrists. I’m having a major wrist problem–tendonitis, they said–and on steroids for a week as well as some pain meds and a brace at night. I had recently upped my reps and lowered my weights on arm work and also did use a few of the resistance machines last week (usually stick to free weights). I had no idea I was hurting myself until a day later. Thanks as always for the great advice and the great site–still looking forward to the book! Cathy

  16. Victoria Ferauge says:

    January 11th, 2011at 12:38 pm(#)

    Mistress Krista,

    I think I’m doing something wrong.

    I got back into lifting after taking a year off (new job, lotsa, lotsa stress) and got back into it 2 months ago. Am faithfully following my progress via Gymjournal. Keeping the calories under 2000 per day. I work out 4-5 days a week. Am lifting more than I ever dreamed I could.

    But for the past two weeks I feel like crap. My head is all fuzzy and I have trouble concentrating. I wake up at 5 AM and I am starving. Query:

    Am I lifting too much (or too often)?
    Am I not eating enough? (but damn it I still have that little spare tire around my waist that appeared after I turned 40 – I should have enough “wool” to burn)

    Any guidance would be much appreciated.

    Victoria

  17. Mistress Krista says:

    January 13th, 2011at 9:06 am(#)

    @Victoria: Hard to know without details of your specific situation. However, I would recommend checking out your carb intake; many folks drop carb intake too low in the mistaken assumption that all carbs are problematic. Make sure to get adequate carbs around the time of your workout, especially in the 1-2 hours postworkout. You can do lowcarb at other times, but during the PW period, bump up the carb intake.

  18. Missy Meier says:

    February 2nd, 2011at 7:13 pm(#)

    I am so confused at how many calories I need. I am 5’4″ 120 lbs. I have it in my head I need to lose 5 lbs (I am small framed) but am trying to gain muscle too. I ate about 1400 calories today before hitting the gym which is within the limits you set and I was too tired to get a good workout. I also noticed that my strength wasnt was I thought it should be. any advice?

  19. Mistress Krista says:

    February 3rd, 2011at 3:44 am(#)

    @Missy: My advice is to first set ONE goal that is realistic. Forget about fat loss and muscle gain right now. Your new goal is this:

    Get as fit as possible while nourishing yourself as well as possible.

    Forget about calories and focus on making every bite of food you put in your mouth the best possible quality — the most nourishing; the most lovingly prepared; the most mindfully eaten; the freshest and realest; the most full of vitamins and minerals and other good stuff. Don’t skimp on your protein, fruits and veggies, and good fats. Eat slowly. (This is key.)

    Forget about workout details and focus on this: Jump high. Run fast. Hit hard. Build a heart-lung-muscle engine with lots of power and work capacity. Be real with your movements.

    Do this to the very honest best of your ability and don’t bullshit yourself about what you’re eating or whether you put in your most earnest effort.
    Everything else is irrelevant.

  20. Missy Meier says:

    February 3rd, 2011at 12:02 pm(#)

    Thank you for your response. I do eat very healthy but is a 55 15 30 ratio not appropriate? should it be more like 40 30 30? I want to get ready for the beach this summer (yay!)

  21. Mistress Krista says:

    February 3rd, 2011at 1:40 pm(#)

    @Missy: Make up your meals as follows.

    1 palm of protein (about 4 oz)
    1-2 fists of colourful veggies (about 1-2 cups)
    1-2 thumbs of fat (about 1 oz)

    Around your workouts, throw in 1/2 fist of fruit and/or legumes (beans, lentils) and/or starchy root veg (yams, sweet potatoes).

    Eat this way and the macronutrients will take care of themselves.

  22. Victoria Ferauge says:

    February 5th, 2011at 6:39 am(#)

    Mistress Krista,

    Took your advice about bumping up the carbs on workout days. Yep, that was it. I feel much better. Thanks.

    Victoria

  23. Mistress Krista says:

    February 5th, 2011at 12:10 pm(#)

    @Victoria: High fives!

  24. Missy Meier says:

    February 12th, 2011at 8:36 am(#)

    Krista I have another question… why does it seem like I swell up like a balloon the day after I do weights? I am not even sure it’s related

  25. Mistress Krista says:

    February 12th, 2011at 2:06 pm(#)

    @Missy: If you’re getting soreness and stiffness following weights days, you’re probably experiencing water retention — aka edema — from inflammation. Sometimes folks also notice water retention in the first several weeks of a weight training program as the muscle cells “fluff” themselves up with water and glycogen to cope with the new demands.

  26. Missy Meier says:

    February 14th, 2011at 4:52 pm(#)

    ok thank you

  27. Jessica Johnson says:

    February 13th, 2012at 6:46 pm(#)

    Mistress Krista,

    I have been lurking the site and following your advice since 2009 to great effect. Thank you so much for putting all of this information online for free.

    Moving on to my question, I’ve been having pain when I sit for about six months. I located the area in an anatomy book, and as far as I can tell its the ischial tuberosity, on both sides (yes I actually managed to develop a pain in my ass). I did some research and learned that its probably an issue with hamstrings, I’ve tried stretching, icing, resting, etc. The pain won’t leave, and I can’t sit through my classes without squirming.

    I’m 22 years old, 5’10″, 150lb, in decent shape except for the sitting-pain thing, and I always warm up before weights and stretch after. I lift weights, bike to school, and practice for martial arts. In other words, I’m not old enough to be super stiff, I have good muscle tone, not too much body fat, and I’m not sedentary, so what gives? Have you ever encountered a similar issue? If so, have any ideas on what to do about it? Maybe I should visit a doc, but somehow I don’t think ‘butt hurt’ is covered by my insurance.

  28. Mistress Krista says:

    February 14th, 2012at 6:31 am(#)

    @Jessica: You sat for six months? (Sorry. :))

    Ah, tell me about the ass pain. That’s a bugger, that one. (And oy, the humiliating positions you have to get in at the ART doc’s… just find a female health care provider, is all I can say.) Problem with asses is that so many things are involved there — hamstrings, glutes, smaller hip muscles, nerve bundles, etc. It’s like a big ol’ train station of hurtin’ possibilities.

    My guess (and remember, I only play a doctor on the internet) is an inflammation of the sciatic nerves, although it’s unusual to have it on both sides. We often see this as so-called “piriformis syndrome”, which can refer to an inflammation of the actual piriformis or simply the area around it, which, again, is highly innervated. This is actually a common problem for active people. There are injuries that active people tend to get that non-active people don’t, so in fact “I’m not sedentary” is probably what caused this. :) The problem may also originate higher up, in the lumbar spine.

    I strongly recommend you DO visit a doctor, preferably one that deals with sports medicine (because a regular GP will not be as familiar with the unique injuries of athletic people). It isn’t going to get better and will likely get worse if you ignore it.


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