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One potential reason for feeling beat up after workouts is from pushing the intensiveness of the exercises too far. Done with many exercises for several consecutive workouts (or weeks of workouts), pushing each set to the near limit may lead to that “beat up” feeling.

The trend I’ve noticed with some trainees (certainly not all) is that they may feel “beat up” or overly fatigued from working out because they incorrectly applied a guideline commonly used in strength training programs.

Many strength training programs, the ones I design included, use what’s known as the reps in reserve (RIR) guideline. For example, a workout may call for 3×8 (three sets, eight reps) for squats while leaving two reps in reserve. Meaning, a weight should be selected that allows for two more reps than what’s listed in the workout to be performed.

With the 3×8 squat example, that means a weight that you could squat for 10 reps would be used, but you’d perform eight reps, thus leaving two reps in reserve (or as some say, “two reps in the tank”).

The critical element of this guideline can be overlooked, however, and lead to issues. If the instruction is to terminate the set with two reps left in reserve, that means to stop the set knowing two more reps could be performed without compromised technique or range of motion.

Why is that clarification important?

The overly enthusiastic trainee, for instance, may terminate the set of squats knowing she could grind out two more reps,

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