No pain, no gain, right? Well, not necessarily. Today I talk about the difference between a nervouse system workout and a muscular system workout, and why you don't have to be sore to benefit from exercise.
Chris: This is the Core Balance Podcast, I’m your host, Chris Janke-Bueno.
I remember when I was in college I used to exercise to the point of absolute annihilation and one of my goals was to be sore for as long as I could. You know, soreness when you’re sore the next day that means you’ve got a good workout. I remember one time, I went to the gym, I was there early in the morning. I got there at 6 or 7 o’clock and I did a 3-hour workout, talking about stupid I mean, I did not know what I was doing. Basically, it was my goal to hit every body part in that one workout and I did a 3-hour workout.
Anyway, long story short, I was sore for a week, an entire 7 days I was sore like sore to the point where I could barely walk. Now, kind of looking back on that obviously, I can say, wow, that was really crazy and not very smart and all that. Unfortunately, I didn’t make that up, I’m not the first or the last person to do a workout that leaves you sore for multiple days or a week. I don’t know, I just really feel like our workout culture is to the point where harder is better. If you’re not working too hard, you’re not getting anything accomplished and all these stuff when that really is not the case. You know, I learned the hard way because if you know my story you know that at the age of 14 I had a bulge disc in my lower back and I suffered with pretty intense pain for the next 10 years or so. So, when I was doing this workout, this 3-hour workout, that was in the middle of that painful times of my life so, just really not a smart thing to do.
When I see people come into our studio and even though they know that the goal is to help them move freer and if they do have any pain or limitations, usually, those pains and limitations will start to go away. Even though they know all these, there’s still this kind of paradigm in their head that “no pain, no gain”, you really have to feel the burn to get results and all of these stuffs. And you know, I have to be sore for a day or two in order to get my benefits out of the workout. I see this a lot and again, people come in for one goal and they’re putting this “no pain, no gain” philosophy into that goal.
Today, I want to talk about the difference between a nervous system workout and a muscular system workout. At the end I’m going to give you some simple practical techniques that you can add to your life immediately to start to differentiate between a nervous system workout and a muscular system workout. So now, what’s the difference? A nervous system workout will leave you feeling refreshed, it will leave you feeling taller and more grounded at the same time. A muscular system workout is more of what I was describing earlier like you feel that someone just beat you up. You’re sore for several days and you can’t do too many of those workouts. You know, when someone tells you, “You can only work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday or you need an off day in-between.”, that’s because your muscle tissue is so broken down that you need more time to recover.
And what I’m starting to see is even if you do different body parts, if you do real high intensity every single day let’s say, Monday, you do upper body and Tuesday you do lower body, even though you’re doing different parts of your body, your body will create inflammation. And you’re creating inflammation with the workout because of that intensity and so, even though you’re doing different body parts, you’re still on the same body and you’re still creating systemic inflammation in your body. And just general fatigue I mean, that type of workout will beat you into the ground.
So, the nervous system workout, the way that you can tell that you’re actually working the nervous system in a quality way, and by nervous system, I basically mean that you are teaching your body how to move differently, more efficiently as opposed to just taking a range of motion that you’re already good at, just like beating yourself into submission. Let’s say for example, you do 3 sets of an exercise, let’s do on the nervous system side let’s say, you do pullovers. If you’re not familiar with pullovers let’s go to mycorebalance.com/exercises and you’ll be able to find pull overs there or you can search our youtube channel, mycorebalance, all one word.
If you’re doing something like pullovers, they are designed to open up your upper back, to open up your shoulders and sometimes it can even take a little bit of tension off of your neck. In pullovers, your muscles are still working especially if you add a weight to your arm. But the goal is not complete annihilation of your muscles, the goal is nervous system related meaning, you’re trying to teach your body how to move more efficiently, how to move smoother and the overall result again, in the big picture is to ease the tension on the joints, ease the pressure and to be able to move smoother. Contrast that with something like a bench press where the movement is not too difficult but the difficulty comes when you add more and more weight. And it’s in adding more and more weight and becoming obsess in how much weight you can lift where the problem arises.
And again, I mean, problem as in those are bad workouts because a lot of people do those workouts and they can achieve results and not get injured and that’s great. Most people however, with the amount of time that we sit and just general sedentary lifestyle, we’re not able to do that type of super intense workout all the time especially, as you start aging. And I think we start to lose that desire to even make that a goal right? Why do you want to be sore for 3 days when you don’t have to be. So, I think this is really important though because if you think about the average client, well definitely, the average client, when we get in the door, they’re not 20 year olds who want to just be raaah, they don’t want to go all out every day. When they tend to be a little bit older you know, 40 to 60 years old, they have a life, they have a career, they have kids maybe sometimes grandkids, and if you just didn’t work out yesterday you don’t want to be so sore today that you can’t pick up your grandkid, right? So, that’s where the nervous system workouts really come into play and again, that example of pullovers that an example that I highly recommend that you try out.
Again, mycorebalance.com/exercises and generally, any of the exercises that are at level 1 and even some of the level 2 exercises in our Core Balance Baseline Program. If you hadn’t checked that out, I would definitely recommend checking that out just to sample it and see what I’m talking about if nothing else. And so, really how does this transfer into the real world, nervous system versus muscular system? Well, I still want to tone my muscles Chris, I still want to do stuff like that. That’s great, I still have that as a goal, I still want to work the muscular system as well but it takes a lot less than we think. And if we spend a lot of our time working on the nervous system, on making sure that everything is balanced then we need relatively, little time on the actual muscular system and doing that whole kind of “no pain, no gain” all that stuff. And really, I would change “no pain, no gain” to “no work, no gain”. There’s a difference between pain and work, right? If you feel a sharp pain on your lower back that’s different than feeling burning pain in the muscles of your lower back so, much different.
One or two days a week is all you need for the muscular system workouts because then, your body is spending the next couple of days recovering, rebuilding muscle tissue, strengthening your bones and generally repairing some of that damage that you did during the workout. Now again, all these depends on your goal and all these other things but for general fitness, I recommend one or two days a week is really all you need. The rest of the time you’re doing more nervous system based workouts which tend to feel a lot better, at the end of the workout you’re feeling better, recharged, rejuvenated as opposed to broken down.
So, check out some of those exercises, check out the Core Balance Baseline and that’s going to kind of give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
You’ve been listening to the Core Balance Podcast, I’m your host Chris Janke-Bueno. Let’s be fit, let’s be healthy, let’s be happy. It feels good to move so, keep moving.
Stop relying on willpower, motivational tricks, and pump-up strategies and learn how to top into your inner fitness fire with Chris' 60-minute audio book: Ignite Your Fitness Passion (published 2015)
Relieve your back pain with this easy-to-follow video program designed to get to the root cause of your pain: muscle imbalance. Check out the Back Pain Module.
Learn the basic principles that make a successful fitness program with Chris' 60-page book, Functional Strength: The Key To Pain-Free Movement (published 2008)