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Can progress be made without consistancy?

Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:56 pm
by abacoian
I've been trying to exercise more recently to make the physical improvements that I know are possible. I have a spinal cord injury and have to use a power wheelchair. But the hardest part about it is what it would actually take on my part to make those improvements. It's not too difficult to go hard 1 or 2 days but to keep at it when your time and energy and drive is depleted is not so easy. But my thinking is the only way to gain anything is to give it everything. I think one day could make or break my chances. My body is used to years of being in a wheelchair and resting and relying on it. The only way for improvement is sweat and tears and consistancy. This month I've decided to as many days as I can give everything to my workouts and do my best not missing a day unless I absolutely have to. 1 Week in I'm off to a great start.

I think if I can put in a solid month that eventually it will be ok to miss a day or maybe go all out 2 or 3 days and miss a day. But right now I think my best chance is to look at this month as a test knowing that no matter the results I did what I had to.

Someone mentioned to me that at my age (37) that I shouldn't do too much without adequate rest because of my muscles breaking down. Their reccomendation kind of put a kink in my all out every day plan because I'm sure I do need breaks sometimes.

I usually listen to my body pretty good but am not sure when to rest. What are the effects if you don't let your muscles rest? With my spinal cord injury I've wondered, if I work a muscle hard and then spend the rest of the day in my chair if that muscle needs less time to recover since I'm not using it.

I know I need rest days. It seems hard to break though, when I take a break I feel like I should have not and that maybe I lost my oppurtunity. I feel like an able bodied person can more easily go by the workout rules and make progress but an sci person needs to fight harder for progress. Finding that effective route that will help me and not hurt me is what I need to learn. I do believe that pushing as close to the max before you need to take a rest period could be effective. Is 1 full day of rest / no exercise a sufficent amount of rest time before you get back at it?

I don't know all the technical terms or even the proper way to do exercises but I know that doing what I can is better than not doing anything. I have this idea, if I could just learn the basics of how the body moved and muscles worked and practice simple routines or movements and divide them into whatever number of "building blocks" that I could follow that I could follow it. I could work on block one and two however many days, for 10 minutes or however long was needed, and work on blocks 3 & 4. But the point for me is focusing on a specif block would be less daunting than thinking constantly about the big picture.

I'm realizing that with spinal cord injury progress can't come easy, but it can come. And what it takes for progress will take everything you have in you and even more. And deciding if it's worth it is a heart breaking decsion. I do believe that it is worth it.

Please give some ideas and plan ideas for how many days would be effective to go hard and then how long to rest. It would be awesome if I could scan my muscles and see the optimal time to restart my workouts.

Thank you again guys,

Re: Can progress be made without consistancy?

Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:30 pm
by stuward
Ian, your perseverance is inspiring.

This is related to an earlier post from today about over-training. Everyone need to balance intensity, volume and frequency, in the context of adequate nutrition, rest and stress control. The product of those parameters is relatively fixed but can be expanded by training over the long term. In the short and medium term, you need to balance them in a way that works for you. If you do too much, you will overtrain and decrease strength while too little leads to sub-optimal growth or even atrophy. Finding that balance is dependant on understanding your body. The 2 days rest between workouts is a good rule of thumb for beginners but it may or may not be optimal for you.

Re: Can progress be made without consistancy?

Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:29 am
by Jungledoc
It's a lot like personal finance. You have certain assets. You have an income, and you have expenses. If you are spending a little more than your income, eventually you'll get into trouble. If you are spending a lot more than your income, you'll get into trouble very quickly.

If, however, part of your outgo is investment that will eventually increase your income, you may well be able to justify more expenditure.

Your physical situation includes your current assets. Your income includes rest (both just time away from the gym and sleep) and nutrition. Your expenses are the energy you spend in the gym. It depends on how often you work out (frequency), how much you lift (intensity) and how many times you lift it (volume). Oversimplified, I know, but it's only an analogy. If you are putting out more than you are taking in, eventually you'll go broke physically. If you carefully budget your expenses, you'll be investing in the future, and your ability to handle exercise will increase.

Keep in mind that this is still somewhat of an oversimplification. Gains in strength occur, not while you are exercising, but while you are recovering. If you don't give a muscle enough time after heavy exercise, it won't make progress. For many people, about 48 hours is required for a muscle to recover. That varies with the individual, and situation, but that's a good rule of thumb.

How often you train depends in part on how you organize your training. If you are doing a full-body workout, you (if you are like the average person) need to take at least a day off between training days. If you do some sort of split workout (training different body parts at each workout) you can get away with training on subsequent days. However, there is also a toll on your whole body and on your central nervous system with training, and even with a split, you need regular rest.

None of the above changes with your spinal cord injury. You still need to come up with a budget that is right for your assets and income.

So, yes, consistency is very important, but that means regular training over time, not spending your life savings in a few weeks. Training every day for a month is a terrible idea. You need to make a plan that will allow you to train 3 or 4 days a week for the next 30 years.

Obviously, you will need to adapt any program to your disability. I'd be interested in knowing more about that. What is the level of the injury, and how complete is it? What can you move normally, what can you move a little, what can't you move?

Re: Can progress be made without consistancy?

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:34 am
by abacoian
I appreciate the wisdom and the honesty guys. I agree jungledoc, I need to look at the big picture and not max out after one or two weeks. I need to find peace with those days that I rest, I feel like I might be missing an opportunity but I'm seeing that the rest is beneficial and needed.

A friend said it might benefit me to start drinking protein shakes so I might try that.

My injury level is c2 and incomplete. My right side is stronger, my right arm and hand can do almost anything but has limitations that can be improved. My left arm and hand is weak but I've been working on it. My legs move, with a walker with a bicycle seat for added support I walk almost everyday, right now only about 250 feet. I can do squats and am up to 21 before my walk everyday.

My limbs need work and I know can improve greatly. But my core is key to it all. So I try to work on my back. Since I'm reliant on the wheelchair I'm trying to find effective exercises that I can do without needing help since help won't always be available. I know I can progress beyond most's imagination, but figuring out the way to get there is what I hope to find.

Jungledoc not sure if you saw this video, it shows some of what I can do, not all though. Thank you guys again for taking the time. I greatly appreciate your help." onclick=";return false;

Re: Can progress be made without consistancy?

Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:59 am
by Jungledoc
Thanks for posting. There are some challenges ahead. Stick with it. Again, if you try to do too much too fast, you will not be able to stick with it! And you will risk injuries that will set you back.

I know that the stuff in the video may not be what you're doing currently, but a couple of thoughts come to mind watching it. On some of the movements you were using a limited range of motion (ROM). That usually means that you are using too much weight. Being able to move through the whole range is very important. On some of the movements you were hitching your body to try to complete the movement. For instance on the movement where you were pulling forward from somewhere behind and to the sides of your shoulders (it's not a known exercise that I recognize) you had your arms partway forward, then you were shifting your body to try to move the handles further. The goal is not to move the handles, the goal is to get your muscles stronger. Cut the weight to the point that you can complete the full ROM, with your body rock-solid still. Work in your planned rep-set scheme, and increase the weight according to your progression plan, but not faster!

Re: Can progress be made without consistancy?

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:34 am
by abacoian
Hey Jungledoc,
yes the video was when I first started using the pulley system, I don't do that anymore:) Last week I was at a hotel and able to practice walking in the long hallways, so much nicer than having to turn around every few steps.

I was just reading of an intense therapy program for people with spinal cord injury. It gives me hope and seemingly would be a lot easier just to go to the so called experts for 6 months or however long it might take. But funding and moving won't allow that route anyway. But it might be for the best to keep trying on my own.

I agree that I need a long term plan. I will continue doing what I can and hopefully figure out the key parts to success and progress.

Thank you

Re: Can progress be made without consistancy?

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:36 pm
by Immortal2
you know, i was in the gym today at 6 am and complaining that I was too tired and sleepy to be there but after reading this..... I kinda feel like a bitch. You have inspired me