4

votes

Stiffness and mobility loss from lifting

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 16, 2010 at 2:24 AM

I've been engaged in the 5x5 program (i.e. five sets of five reps of really high weight) with a compound push, pull and leg movements (i.e. weighted pull up, bench press, squat) twice a week at high intensity (i.e. 30 seconds to 1 min btwn sets).

The results have been awesome in terms of rapid strength gain (since I'm a beginner I've been able to add ten pounds to most lifts each week pretty consistently), muscle gain and fat loss. Working out to conclude a fast is awesome and def helps shed excess body fat. Also, the workout is super quick, so thats a plus.

Here's my problem/question: I've noticed

a-I am sore ALL THE TIME (though cold water dousing and fasting regularly helps this)

b-A general lack of mobility/sensitivity (think of being able to move fluidly in a crowded subway--this ability has diminished significantly for me...and I live in NYC!--not just due to increased size but difficulty moving body parts/shoulders, etc. independently).

c-how do I stop feeling like a rather large refrigerator?

In short: what do you guys do to maintain strength, mass AND mobility/flexibility. I used to be a flabbier but very flexible and relaxed martial artist. Now i am a tenser/less mobile but more ripped weight lifter. I would like the best of both worlds if possible.

This is my first post, so I hope this is a paleo enough question. If not, my apologies.

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on January 01, 2011
at 08:49 PM

Alan: Just because hyperplasia has not been well observed in humans does not mean it is not occurring (see http://www.springerlink.com/content/m587l6u4r7170w12/).

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on January 01, 2011
at 07:52 AM

**"Logically speaking, you're bulking up fast with new muscle that you never had before. So two things are going on here as a person starting weight training. 1) You've got more muscle fiber, and 2) it's new muscle fiber that you didn't have before."** Sorry James but you're way off base there. Hypertrophy results from an increase in cell size, while hyperplasia is from an increase in cell number. Hyperplasia hasn't been proven to occur in humans so that leaves increase in cell size. So you still have the same number of muscle fibers you've just made the cells a bit bigger. Nothing to learn.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 17, 2010
at 08:49 PM

actually no, i practiced systema which has no systema or forms whatsoever. super heavy on improvised situations and partnerwork. but yes, I could simulate this on my time with a friend or something.

Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on December 17, 2010
at 01:28 AM

I don't believe in stretching more than necessary for your goals, whether that be a sport or just functional daily living. That said, if you feel "not normal" because of lack of flexibility, work on that flexibility. IMO you can develop strength, mass & ROM at the same time, but you can't optimize one area without compromising a little in another area. So listen to Kelly. ;-)

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 16, 2010
at 10:27 PM

I remember reading somewhere that the Hunter/Gatherer types do full body stretches all the time. They just don't do the stretches like you are thinking.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 16, 2010
at 10:25 PM

Are you eating that after you lift? That's all slow digesting stuff. Where's the fast digesting carb/protein combination? After you do heavy sets, your body wants nutrients NOW NOW NOW, not LATER LATER LATER. The issue for this particular item is not overall nutrition per se, but post workout nutrition during the "window". The faster you get the nutrients in, the faster the cells repair and the less sore you will be. Re. the MA, I don't know what you did, but I'm assuming there were kata or forms that you learned. You don't need to go to classes to do those on your own time.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:07 PM

Also, I think I'm getting enough nutrition as my BFP is still relatively high (I wouldn't classify myself as fat, but am a huskier dude and can def grab a roll or two when sitting down), though again, I've def. lost a lot of fat.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:06 PM

I'm actually going to start a new thread to ask about the organic lifting schedule idea.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:05 PM

-Post workout nutrition I usually try to eat ALOT: the other day I ate 1/2 rotisserie chicken, root vegetables helping and cabbage salad. Alot of times I will make a three egg omelette plus sardines with tons of oil and avocado. -I really, really like the idea of having an organic lifting schedule, wherein I lift once, then don't lift again until I'm not sore anymore and haven't been for at least a day or more (never going more than 2x a week, but going less frequently as dictated by soreness) -I don't do MA anymore (am broke) but substitute with dance (salsa, i stink!) as often as possible

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 05:12 PM

jake you are the man. thanks again for all your helpful responses. this forum rules.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 16, 2010
at 05:03 PM

Try incorporating olympic lifting. There is a lot of skill/balance/flexibility involved in that so I feel it could improve grace :)

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 16, 2010
at 05:00 PM

If you're aiming for muscular hypertrophy and strength then 3-5 minutes is a good rest period. If you're aiming for metabolic conditioning then shorter rest periods could work better. You're not going to be able to lift as much in each set with so little rest though. The 5x5 means 5 lifts where that last lift is giving it all you have to put the weight up, so if you did that and then only rested 30 seconds you would have no way of being recovered enough to hit your next set(s.) If you feel like you aren't working hard enough increase the weight. I feel like I got run over by a train

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:55 PM

I love the foam rollers! Amazing!

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:52 PM

also, that is an awesome website. thank you for the link.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:43 PM

also, to clarify, I rest in between exercises for a few minutes, just restrict rest between sets of the same exercise.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:42 PM

jake! thanks for the helpful reply. I designed my rest intervals to be so short because I read somewhere this increases HGH response/testosterone all that good stuff? Is this incorrect?

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:44 PM

so in terms of actionable steps: 1-eat more? (good stuff obviously) 2-lift less heavy weights/decelerate the rate of weight increases? 3-lift less frequently/don't lift again until I'm not sore anymore. my goals here are to be strong, flexible and look good naked. I actually don't _want_ to be 'huge', just lean and strong. I like 5x5 because its quick, simple and has helped me lose a pretty significant ammount of body fat and gain muscle in a very short ammt of time. again for me this is about overall holistic wellness, not just getting bigger lifts.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:41 PM

very comprehensive answer! thank you.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:40 AM

thanks for your response! Here's my question--it seems a bit counter intuitive/not evolutionarily sound (not trying to get into the whole 'authentic cave man' schtick, but 'needing to stretch' explicitly doesn't seem healthy. to have to engage in extensive stretching just to feel 'normal'. Is there a way to develop strength, muscle mass AND range of movement at the same time--or are they inversely proportional? I was thinking of subbing in a circuit day focusing more on high intensity body weight stuff or kettlebells with high reps instead of a heavy lifting day.

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13 Answers

best answer

4
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on December 16, 2010
at 06:08 AM

Having to stretch is not natural, but neither is heavy weight lifting. Ever look at native tribe members? None of them are bulked up like refrigerators. THey have leaner muscles, more like swimmers. The kind of lifting they do is just not as constant and heavy as in heavy weight lifting. Instead, they do a variety of exercise, some heavy, some light and repetitive. More musculature naturally takes away flexibility. You can't totally avoid that, but you can work harder on stretching. However, the thicker your muscles, the less flexibility you will have.

Also, if you are in pain all the time, you may not be allowing enough time for recovery. The only time I am in pain 'all the time' is when I time my lifting such that there is always one part of my body that is sore and recovering, but during those times, I am only working out another part of my body and later that part will be sore, but the part that was sore earlier will have recovered by then. The end result is some part or another of the body will tend to be sore most of the time, but which part will vary depending on the workout schedule. If you feel sore in the same parts all the time, either you are not getting proper nutrition to recover or you are not giving enough to time to recover, or both. Overworking the muscles can result in damage and/or slower progress than allowing proper rest time between workouts. Remember that all bulking happens in between workouts during the recovery phase, so you that part of the process is very important!

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:41 PM

very comprehensive answer! thank you.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:44 PM

so in terms of actionable steps: 1-eat more? (good stuff obviously) 2-lift less heavy weights/decelerate the rate of weight increases? 3-lift less frequently/don't lift again until I'm not sore anymore. my goals here are to be strong, flexible and look good naked. I actually don't _want_ to be 'huge', just lean and strong. I like 5x5 because its quick, simple and has helped me lose a pretty significant ammount of body fat and gain muscle in a very short ammt of time. again for me this is about overall holistic wellness, not just getting bigger lifts.

best answer

6
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:56 PM

holy crap amigo. Your rest time between sets is not nearly enough.

For heavy sets, especially in 5x5 starting strength type work you should go for 3 minutes between sets. This is extremely important and I imagine why you are intensely sore and stiff. check out the starting strength FAQ http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ:The_Program

If you are not resting between sets then you aren't hitting the right metabolic pathways (I will hopefully add a reference here later.)

In addition if you are still sore after workouts then you could do a few things. -Stretch -Foam Roll (highly effective) -Ice Bath/Cold showers (highly effective) -Increase fish oil intake. -Higher carb/food intake post workout to help build muscles.

I hope that helps.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:55 PM

I love the foam rollers! Amazing!

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 16, 2010
at 05:00 PM

If you're aiming for muscular hypertrophy and strength then 3-5 minutes is a good rest period. If you're aiming for metabolic conditioning then shorter rest periods could work better. You're not going to be able to lift as much in each set with so little rest though. The 5x5 means 5 lifts where that last lift is giving it all you have to put the weight up, so if you did that and then only rested 30 seconds you would have no way of being recovered enough to hit your next set(s.) If you feel like you aren't working hard enough increase the weight. I feel like I got run over by a train

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:42 PM

jake! thanks for the helpful reply. I designed my rest intervals to be so short because I read somewhere this increases HGH response/testosterone all that good stuff? Is this incorrect?

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:43 PM

also, to clarify, I rest in between exercises for a few minutes, just restrict rest between sets of the same exercise.

best answer

3
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 16, 2010
at 06:47 PM

What are you doing for post workout nutrition? Constant soreness indicates an issue. Overtraining, not enough protein/nutrition, not enough rest time (or all the above). Personally, I'd take a break with the lifting until the soreness goes away, then start up again. I'd also stop the fasting and eat more.

Now, I've got absolutely no proof on the following part, so it's purely a theory (no idea if there's any scientific studies on it). Take it as it is without further evidence.

Logically speaking, you're bulking up fast with new muscle that you never had before. So two things are going on here as a person starting weight training. 1) You've got more muscle fiber, and 2) it's new muscle fiber that you didn't have before.

1) More muscle bulk = less flexibility due to mass. You can mitigate it by doing stretching/flexibility, but you'll probably never get back to start with that. But if you don't do any at all, you'll be worse off.

2) New muscle = your body needs to learn how to use it right. There'll be a lag time until it does. For your body to learn how to use the muscles faster in a functional environment (dance, grappling, movement), you have to use them more in a functional environment. 5x5 lifts are not functional (unless your job is filled with lifting heavy weights :) ). Are you still doing your martial arts? Or did you replace your sessions with weightlifting?

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:07 PM

Also, I think I'm getting enough nutrition as my BFP is still relatively high (I wouldn't classify myself as fat, but am a huskier dude and can def grab a roll or two when sitting down), though again, I've def. lost a lot of fat.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:06 PM

I'm actually going to start a new thread to ask about the organic lifting schedule idea.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 16, 2010
at 10:25 PM

Are you eating that after you lift? That's all slow digesting stuff. Where's the fast digesting carb/protein combination? After you do heavy sets, your body wants nutrients NOW NOW NOW, not LATER LATER LATER. The issue for this particular item is not overall nutrition per se, but post workout nutrition during the "window". The faster you get the nutrients in, the faster the cells repair and the less sore you will be. Re. the MA, I don't know what you did, but I'm assuming there were kata or forms that you learned. You don't need to go to classes to do those on your own time.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 17, 2010
at 08:49 PM

actually no, i practiced systema which has no systema or forms whatsoever. super heavy on improvised situations and partnerwork. but yes, I could simulate this on my time with a friend or something.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:05 PM

-Post workout nutrition I usually try to eat ALOT: the other day I ate 1/2 rotisserie chicken, root vegetables helping and cabbage salad. Alot of times I will make a three egg omelette plus sardines with tons of oil and avocado. -I really, really like the idea of having an organic lifting schedule, wherein I lift once, then don't lift again until I'm not sore anymore and haven't been for at least a day or more (never going more than 2x a week, but going less frequently as dictated by soreness) -I don't do MA anymore (am broke) but substitute with dance (salsa, i stink!) as often as possible

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on January 01, 2011
at 07:52 AM

**"Logically speaking, you're bulking up fast with new muscle that you never had before. So two things are going on here as a person starting weight training. 1) You've got more muscle fiber, and 2) it's new muscle fiber that you didn't have before."** Sorry James but you're way off base there. Hypertrophy results from an increase in cell size, while hyperplasia is from an increase in cell number. Hyperplasia hasn't been proven to occur in humans so that leaves increase in cell size. So you still have the same number of muscle fibers you've just made the cells a bit bigger. Nothing to learn.

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on January 01, 2011
at 08:49 PM

Alan: Just because hyperplasia has not been well observed in humans does not mean it is not occurring (see http://www.springerlink.com/content/m587l6u4r7170w12/).

1
61852721b5ff3613f56f043fe890a679

(1172)

on December 31, 2010
at 04:55 AM

another lifter here.

re: soreness....in my view, your volume is too high. can you not switch to 3 workouts a week, 3x5?

scale back and then see if you still feel 'inflexible.' there's a ton of misinformation, conjecture and repetition of conventional wisdom about the allegedly inverse relationship of muscle bulk and flexibility in the answers here, and i wonder if your constant soreness is keeping you from being able to objectively evaluate your situation.

i second the reco to stalk Kelly Starrett's blog. Bookmark the MWODs he puts together that address the lifts you do specifically and put together some pre-and post-workout protocols for yourself. see if they help address your issues.

finally, knowing where you are sore specifically would help. did anyone teach you how to lift, or did you teach yourself?

1
14d2a231fb261051a036a6ab6ca7bebd

on December 31, 2010
at 03:21 AM

SAID principle my friend: If you want to improve mobility, practice mobility. Learn some parkour. Given your stated goals of strength, mass, and mobility, you may also want to look into developing some more intensive gymnastics skills.

http://www.gymnasticbodies.com/

Most important thing: have fun with it :)

1
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on December 31, 2010
at 02:29 AM

It sounds like all your lifting is pretty linear... If this is the case you might want to check out scott sonnon's Circular strength training, or one of it's children disciplines like: http://physicalliving.com/the-clubbell-mass-evolution-complete-review/

I get stiff if all my lifting is linear and i get even stronger if i add non-linear training.

Also, I'm pretty sure that you need at least one more recovery day a week if you are sore all the time.

1
Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:33 AM

If you're not naturally flexible, make a point of stretching and foam rolling after your lifting sessions. Check out Kelly Starrett's Mobility WOD blog:

http://mobilitywod.blogspot.com/

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:52 PM

also, that is an awesome website. thank you for the link.

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 03:40 AM

thanks for your response! Here's my question--it seems a bit counter intuitive/not evolutionarily sound (not trying to get into the whole 'authentic cave man' schtick, but 'needing to stretch' explicitly doesn't seem healthy. to have to engage in extensive stretching just to feel 'normal'. Is there a way to develop strength, muscle mass AND range of movement at the same time--or are they inversely proportional? I was thinking of subbing in a circuit day focusing more on high intensity body weight stuff or kettlebells with high reps instead of a heavy lifting day.

Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on December 17, 2010
at 01:28 AM

I don't believe in stretching more than necessary for your goals, whether that be a sport or just functional daily living. That said, if you feel "not normal" because of lack of flexibility, work on that flexibility. IMO you can develop strength, mass & ROM at the same time, but you can't optimize one area without compromising a little in another area. So listen to Kelly. ;-)

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on December 16, 2010
at 10:27 PM

I remember reading somewhere that the Hunter/Gatherer types do full body stretches all the time. They just don't do the stretches like you are thinking.

0
Ba20b502cf02b5513ea8c4bb2740d8cb

on November 28, 2011
at 11:30 PM

I'm in the same boat as you...packed on about 12 lbs of muscle and even though I'm digging the strength and power at 183lbs it's going to take some time to adapt to my larger frame. My thighs and butt are something that I'm going to have to get used to too because all these deadlifts and squats have given me a little more "circumference" in this area of my body. =p

0
5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on January 01, 2011
at 07:37 AM

You say you are a beginner but not how long you have been lifting. In my experience pain, or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is much more prevalent in the newer lifter and tends to lessen the more experienced one gets. That's not to say that some really strenuous or new routine can't get the fibers a hurtin. I also find that taking 5-10g of BCAA before, during and after training helps recovery immensely. Stretching the fascia while resting between sets can help a lot too.

0
Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581

(1376)

on December 31, 2010
at 01:50 AM

In short: what do you guys do to maintain strength, mass AND mobility/flexibility.

YOGA! I don't know about mass, but I would highly yoga for all the rest of the above. You may have to try several different teachers or styles. Or mix up your workouts with martial arts or swimming.

0
710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 07:31 PM

new thread, based on thought provoked by James' thoughtful reply, here:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/16319/organic-lifting-schedule#axzz18IxR29kN

0
710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:50 PM

also, also, to highlight what I think may be a more interesting question concealed within the original (this was a comment I posted above):

"Is there a way to develop strength, muscle mass AND range of movement at the same time--or are they inversely proportional? I was thinking of subbing in a circuit day focusing more on high intensity body weight stuff or kettlebells with high reps instead of a heavy lifting day"

0
710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 04:49 PM

also, to update the conversation a bit:

-have any other lifters noticed a decrease in the quality of their movement?

i.e. less movement sensitivity (ability to respond to another's movement, whether in grappling, dance, or just navigating crowded areas), increased clumsiness, flexibility loss, etc?

710a2d86803b176778ce7db770944bb7

(626)

on December 16, 2010
at 05:12 PM

jake you are the man. thanks again for all your helpful responses. this forum rules.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 16, 2010
at 05:03 PM

Try incorporating olympic lifting. There is a lot of skill/balance/flexibility involved in that so I feel it could improve grace :)

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