Fit 2 Inspire

A healthy lifestyle blog by ACE Certified Group Exercise Trainer.

Ask a Trainer: Should you workout if you're sore?

A question I get from many clients....should I workout if I'm super sore? Is there anything I can do to lessen the soreness or prevent the soreness?

For many, some delayed onset muscle soreness (soreness that occurs 24-72 hours after a workout) is a welcome sign that you exercised intensely and even considered a "badge of honor" for some. It's your body's way of repairing and building muscle and recovering. It's totally OK to workout while sore, but here are some general guidelines.

What to do if you're sore.

My advice if you are already sore from a previous workout - you may engage in light to moderate steady-state cardio (walking, jogging, dancing, yoga etc.) or light to moderate strength training, as long as you aren't experiencing severe pain. Muscle soreness typically begins to fade when you start moving the muscles during light cardio. If pain increases, stop immediately. Don't do any HIIT training or sprinting or heavy lifting if you are super sore. For example, if your legs are very sore from an intense barre class, don't do any leg-focused work the day or two after, but instead go for a walk or light jog, do gentle yoga, or upper body exercises.

However, I always encourage you to listen to your body. If you are just so tired and fatigued from a previous day's workout, take a rest day. There's no harm in that! It's typically recommended to avoid taking more than three days off in a row from some form of exercising (unless you have an illness or medical problem).

Mitigating soreness.

If you are already sore, the best thing for you to do is to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Sitting can stiffen the muscles and intensify the feelings of soreness. Getting up frequently to walk, helps a lot. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps in muscle repair. Some folks find an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like Advil helps, or topical muscle creams like Bengay, and even applying heat to the sore area. Foam rolling involves using a foam roller or tennis ball and rubbing your sore muscle on the device to work out the knots and tissues. This is painful, but extremely effective. You can find tons of foam rolling videos and how-to's on YouTube. These are all effective methods to lessening the intensity or duration of muscle soreness.

Can I prevent soreness?

There are a few ways you can try to prevent or lessen soreness. The best way is to do a cardio warm up prior to working out. Have you heard the old analogy that cold taffy breaks, but warm taffy bends? Same thing with muscles. Warm muscles that are properly warmed up are less likely to get injured.

We also tend to get sore when we are working muscles in a way we haven't done in awhile. I am always amazed when I start out an 8-week Tabata program because I ALWAYS get sore the first week. Every. Single. Time. I've taught it about 6 times the past two years! And I always exercise between 8 week programs, so it's not like I completely stop exercising. But because my body isn't used to doing those specific exercises, in those specific orders, I usually get sore from the first week of class and after that, my body adapts and I don't get sore anymore.

Nutrition is also a big key. Pre-workout, you should have a serving of carbs/protein an hour or two prior to working out to fuel muscle tissues. Post-workout, it's very important that you get a ratio of 2 carbs to 1 protein, 30 minutes to an hour after working out. If you wait to eat longer than an hour, the benefits diminish. Eating after a workout helps your body repair muscles. Staying properly hydrated helps as well. But it's important to note that nutrition does not always completely prevent soreness.

Muscle Soreness Versus Muscle Pain.

There's a big difference between being sore and having an injury causing pain. Many beginners to exercise don't know the difference. Here's a handy table I found at If you feel you may have an injury, it's important to see a doctor.

Quick and Easy Energy Bites

These are delicious and kids like them too!


1 c old fashioned oats
1/2 c peanut butter (natural no added sugar)
1/3 c honey
Dark chocolate chips

Mix and chill or freeze! Try adding protein powder, coconut, or chia seeds.

How many calories do you need?

In order to lose weight, your calorie intake must be less than your total daily calories burned. In order to figure that number out, you'll need to start by calculating your resting metabolic rate.

The following info is from, the American Council on Exercise.

What Is Resting Metabolic Rate? 
BMR and RMR are estimates of how many calories you would burn if you were to do nothing but rest for 24 hours. They represent the minimum amount of energy required to keep your body functioning, including your heart beating, lungs breathing, and body temperature normal.
  • BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, and is synonymous with Basal Energy Expenditure or BEE. BMR measurements are typically taken in a darkened room upon waking after 8 hours of sleep; 12 hours of fasting to ensure that the digestive system is inactive; and with the subject resting in a reclining position.
  • RMR stands for Resting Metabolic Rate, and is synonymous with Resting Energy Expenditure or REE. RMR measurements are typically taken under less restricted conditions than BMR, and do not require that the subject spend the night sleeping in the test facility prior to testing.

These are used to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure  
How Do I Calculate RMR?
There are two main ways to determine how many calories you burn in a given day. A relatively accurate (but more difficult) method is called indirect calorimetry, which uses expired gases to calculate the amounts and types of fuel being utilized.
A less accurate, but much easier, method for determining RMR is to use one of several different formulas. Keep in mind, however, that some sources claim these formulas can be off by as much as 1,000 calories, with the majority of error or variation occurring in the calculation of daily energy expenditure. Several websites, including Health-calc, make it possible to more accurately record daily activity, which can increase the accuracy of the RMR calculation.

RMR Formulas in Action
Following are sample calculations for a 48-year-old woman who is  165 cm (5’5”) and weighs  75 kg (165 lb) using several popular RMR equations. 
* Revised Harris-Benedict BMR Equations (calories/day):
Male: (88.4 + 13.4 x weight) + (4.8 x height) – (5.68 x age)
Female: (447.6 + 9.25 x weight) + (3.10 x height) – (4.33 x age)
weight in kilograms, height in centimeters, age in years
Sample: 447.6 + 9.25 x 75 + 3.10 x 165 = 1,444 calories
* A more accurate formula is the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation(calories/day):
Male: 9.99 x weight + 6.25 x height – 4.92 x age + 5
Female: 9.99 x weight + 6.25 x height – 4.92 x age – 161
weight in kilograms, height in centimeters, age in years
Sample: 749.25 + 1031.25 – 236.16 = 1,544.34 calories
For highly athletic clients, the Katch-McArdle equation (BMR) and the Cunningham equation (RMR) are better because they consider lean muscle mass.

What is TDEE and why is it important?
Exercise is easily the most adjustable variable in total daily energy expenditure. Some sedentary people expend just a little bit above their RMR in a given day, while others can more than double it. The following list defines various activity levels and applies an “activity factor” that can be multiplied by BMR or RMR to calculate TDEE. 
·         Sedentary — desk job and little to no exercise (multiply by 1.2)
·         Lightly Active — light exercise/sports 1–3 days/week (multiply by 1.375)
·         Moderately Active — moderate exercise/sports 3–5 days/week (multiply by 1.55)
·         Very Active — hard exercise/sports 6–7 days/week (multiply by 1.725)
·         Extremely Active — hard daily exercise/sports and physical job or training (multiply by 1.9) 
So for our 48 year old woman – if she is lightly active (maybe she walks 3 days a week) we would multiply her RMR by 1.375  or 1544.35 x 1.375 = 2123 total daily energy expenditure. So our lady can consume 2123 calories per day to maintain weight. She should subtract 500 per day if she wants to lose a 1lb per week.

What Variables Affect Metabolic Rate?
You might find a few observations about them interesting:
·         When your age goes up, your BMR and RMR go down.
·         When your height goes down, your BMR and RMR go down.
·         When your weight goes down, your BMR and RMR go down.
This means that as you get older, shorter, and lose weight, your BMR and RMR will go down and you will need to eat less or exercise more to maintain your current weight. Oh my, it's tough getting old. At least as we get older we get wiser. Well, hopefully.

What Are the Best Exercises For Raising Metabolic Rate and Losing Weight?
Unfortunately, this question does not have one simple answer and research has shown conflicting results (Connolly, Romano and Patruno, 1999). Currently, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) appears to be a leading contender for the title of best RMR enhancer, and the exercises that build muscle (i.e., resistance training) are believed to have the greatest effect on the resting metabolic rate. It is worth noting that hypertrophy-focused workouts, with high resistance to maximize muscle building, don’t burn a high number of calories and, likewise, the EPOC is small. A proper HIIT approach, however, which involves raising the heart rate and calorie expenditure to a high level and results in a significant EPOC, may be one of the most effective methods of increasing RMR. 

What Does Reducing Caloric Intake Do to RMR?
For a personal trying to lose body fat, one of the worst things he or she can do is cause a major drop in RMR by fasting from eating. Studies show that RMR can often be maintained on very-low-calorie diets (VLCD) when sufficient exercise is sustained (van Dale, Saris and ten Hoor, 1990). However, if an individual goes on a VLCD without exercise, RMR will be reduced dramatically and muscle tissue will likely be catabolized as a source of protein for ketosis to occur. Therefore, to achieve weight loss while also maintaining RMR, calorie intake should be reduced by no more than 500 calories per day, while exercise expenditure should be account for approximately 250 to 1000 calories per day. 

Skip the mathwork and figure your TDEE out at

Connolly, J. Romano, T. and Patruno, M. (1999). Effects of dieting and exercise on resting metabolic rate and implications for weight management.Family Practice, 16, 2, 196–201.
Johnstone, A.M. et al. (2005). Factors influencing variation in basal metabolic rate include fat-free mass, fat mass, age and circulating thyroxine, but not sex, circulating leptin or triiodothyronine. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82, 5, 941–948.
van Dale, D., Saris, W.H., ten Hoor, F. (1990). Weight maintenance and resting metabolic rate 18–40 months after a diet/exercise treatment. International Journal of Obesity, 14, 4, 347–359.

My Favorite Things This Summer

What I'm loving lately...

Fila Crosstrainers for Women at Kohl's

I got these shoes for only $12 because I had a $25 gift card and a coupon. Can't beat that!
What I love about them:

  • Lightweight
  • Minimalist feel, but still has some support and heel drop
  • Memory foam (very comfy)
  • Wider toebox
  • Easy to jump, do kettlebells, weightlift, and even run in

Thirty-One Gifts Gym Tote

I love this All-Pro-Tote I ordered from my friend Christina who sells Thirty-One. Of course, now that I go to her website, I can't find them for sale on there, so don't hate me if they are sold out or hostess exclusive! 
What I love about this bag:
  • Holds a yoga mat
  • Separate compartment for your shoes or whatever you want to keep separate from other stuff
  • Jewelry holder inside
  • Waterbottle holder

This bra is one of many nice sports bras at Victoria's Secret. I like this one because of the fun honeycomb cutout on the straps.
What I like about this bra:
  • Padding for us small-chested gals who don't want to look like a 10 year-old boy while exercising!
  • Good quality, durable, washes well

I tried a TRX class in Albuquerque and really liked it, but not enough to get a gym membership or pay for the classes specifically. So...when I saw the kit on Groupon I bought it. I hang from my front door OR we also hang it outside from our tree. 
What I like about TRX home kit:
  • Easy to store, easy to set up
  • Doesn't take up space like weights do
  • Different type of workout to supplement other activities 
  • Tons of free videos/tutorials on how to use it online
  • Pretty much dummy-proof
  • The husband likes it and uses it too!

Exercise DVD Review: Amy Dixon Raise Some Bell

I just started teaching kettlebell classes at the Dance Center and I am getting my certification next month, so I've been scowering the internet for Kettlebell workouts. One of the DVDs I ordered is Amy Dixon's Raise Some Bell.

I love Amy Dixon's Breathless Body workouts, so I thought I'd try her kettlebell dvd. One thing I love about Amy's workouts is that they are HARD. No joke. Her breathless body workouts made me want to puke. In a good way, of course. Not everyone likes HARD. If you don't - I don't suggest her videos unless you are ok with modifying and taking longer breaks, less reps, etc.

The DVD is a 40 minute total body cardio/toning workout with the kettlebell. There is a kettlebell 101 segment if you want to learn proper form/holds. There is also a 10 minute Core segment.

I have to admit, I couldn't really do the entire 40 minutes when I started. It is seriously hard. I used a 10lb bell at first and now I use a 15 for almost the entire thing. I do think it's a little more advanced, so if it's your first time using a kettlebell, I recommend Jillian Michael's Shred video instead. I think that is more do-able for a beginner or someone new to kettlebell. However, if you've been using your bell for awhile and are ready to take it to the next level, Amy's your girl.

One thing that made this video stand out was how high she gets your heartrate going with her moves. She incorporates a kettlebell burpee, lots of wood chops with the bell, and lots of great core work. I really enjoyed the high intensity of the video. Be ready to sweat and don't fret if you can't do the whole thing. The only move I really didn't like was the "around the world" type rotation where you are swinging the bell and doing a walking rotation at the same time. I feel like that move would invite injury and improper form for most kettlebell'ers/

Overall, I would give this workout a 5 out of 5 stars! Great for midlevel to advanced kettlebell'ers, but probably not for a beginner.

Activity Tracker Garmin Vivofit Review

 I bought a Garmin Vivofit last month as my activity tracker-of-choice and thought I'd give it a review for anyone thinking of getting an activity tracker or trying out the Garmin.

What I love about the Vivofit:

  1. You don't have to charge it. Ever. Yep! It runs off a small watch battery that needs replacement every year or so. I really like this feature.
  2. It measures your heart rate. I bought the version that came with a heart rate strap. This really comes in handy when running or biking and it also comes in handy when trying to accurately measure calorie burn.
  3. The screen! I love that I can see at any point in time how many steps, distance, calories burned, heart rate, time, etc. I think this is a nice feature. 
  4. It's waterproof. I don't worry about taking it off for baths or dishes.
  5. It's comfy and durable. 
What is not so great about the Vivofit:
  1. The app is OK. Since I have the screen showing me my data, I find I hardly go into the app. It doesn't sync with MyFitness Pal for calorie tracking either.
  2. The screen does not light up in the dark. It does show up pretty well in bright sun, but it is not backlit (hence the reason it has a battery that only needs replacing every year). I didn't mind this too much because I rarely needed it in dimly lit situations unless I was running in the dark at 5 AM. then I found I had to shine my phone light on it to see it.
  3. The band itself. It pops off when I'm holding my 2 year old on my hip and carrying her around. I should probably just switch it to the other hand and this would probably take care of that problem. Otherwise it's easy to snap on and off.
  4. It overestimates steps/distance. For me, I would measure out a 3 or 4 mile run and I noticed my Vivofit would say I went 4.25 miles. 
Overall, I am really happy with this purchase. While I realize this band may not be the perfect option for everyone, I do recommend it for those fitness junkies who want something that will work while running, biking, or swimming and enjoy using a heart rate monitor for training. I also recommend it for someone who needs a screen with data and wants a "no-fuss" tracker. I don't recommend it for someone just wanting a simple pedometer (there are cheaper options for that!) or someone who is an app junkie and likes to utilize apps and sync with different apps.

What I learned about myself using this tracker:
  1. I don't get enough steps in most days on my own. While I do workout (and sometimes twice a day) I don't get close to the 10,000 steps a day without some thought and motivation. I typically get 5-6,000 steps if I don't exercise at all. If I do a Barre or Bootcamp class I get about 7,000. So I figured out that I either need to run OR make sure I walk for 30 min to 1 hr per day to get to 10,000. If I run 3+ miles I typically get 10,000 steps. If I do long distance it's more like 15k or even 20k.
  2. My job (hospital community relations/marketing) requires a few hours a day on the computer. I have tried standing at my bar counter to at least avoid "sitting" so much during that time. In my perfect world I would buy a treadmill desk, but I don't see that happening soon!
  3. I like the little red bar that "taunts" you to get up and move if you've been sitting too long. It's nice to have a friendly nudge to get your ass off the couch or out of the desk chair!

Comes in Black, Blue, Purple, Teal, & Gray
My Vivofit showing almost 20,000 steps after a long day of double workouts and painting my den!
Vivofit in teal with two other trackers.

The Mommy Tummy - Healing Diastasis Recti

I have several post-partum and pregnant clients, so I thought addressing the topic of the "mommy pooch" aka "diastasis recti" would be very helpful for pretty much any woman who has ever given birth (or will be giving birth).

What is diastasis recti? It's basically a separation down the midline of your ab muscles (rectus abdominis). See the lovely figure below. (Don't you just love how the pregnant lady's boobs went to hell in the illustration?)

How do you know if you have a diastasis recti? 

STEP 1: Lie on your back with knees bent
STEP 2: Place two fingers in the center of your belly, just above the belly button, pointing towards your toes.
STEP 3: Try to relax your abs and lift your head off the floor. (keeping abs as relaxed as possible will give you a more accurate reading, while squeezing abs tight will make the gap seem smaller)
Source: Daily HIIT Blog
If you have a separation of 1 finger, you don't have an issue. If you have 2-2.5 or larger (some women have 3 finger and 4 finger separations), it's considered problematic.

Personally, after I had my babies, I had a separation of 2.5 fingers. I have gotten it down to 1.5 but would still like to close the gap further.

Women who haven't given birth in YEARS can still have a diastasis recti and it still can be healed years later!

If you have this condition - STOP crunching immediately!

Women with diastasis recti larger than 2 fingers should not crunch. It actually can make your gap worse. Other exercises to avoid: planks, pushups on the floor, burpees, yoga poses like "cow pose" that extend the abs.

I know what you're thinking - that sucks! But, don't despair, there are several modifications and exercise to help improve the diastsis recti. First off, several exercises we do in my classes help strengthen the core without aggravating this condition - think squats, wall sits, lunges, cardio intervals, arm sculpting with weights.

GOOD EXERCISES TO START HEALING (some can be done during pregnancy)

1. Tummy vaccum - laying on your back in crunch position, knees bent, suck your tummy in while taking a deep breath in and squeeze. Don't hold your breath but hold the squeeze for 5-10 seconds. Do 5 - 12 reps. Do these kneeling if pregnant past the first trimester.

2. Flat back holds - on all fours, completely flat back (no cat or cow) do the tummy vaccum exercises.

3. Elevators - in seated or standing position, breathe in and pull abs up and in like going up in an elevator.


1. Jumping - take extra care to make sure to squeeze the abs as you lift feet off the ground. Don't jump as high or alternate lifting only one leg off the ground instead of both.

2. Planks & Pushups - Instead of planking or pushups go on to all fours and focus on squeezing the core tight. To push up, either do on the wall or keep your butt up in the air as you push up. Never do a plank if you can't keep your core squeezed tight during the exercise.

3. Side plank - always keep one leg on the ground.

4. Mountain climbers - keep booty high in the air and slow down the leg motion.

5. Standing Oblique crunches - don't do them, just focus on squeezing the muscles while standing in place, doing forward standing crunches.

6. Regular crunches on floor - lift head off the ground only (not shoulders) and squeeze tight as you take a deep breath. OR do standing front crunches instead.

7. Leg lifts on the floor - keep knees bent and gently lift one knee at a time to the chest as you squeeze tummy in.

8. Lat pull downs or pullups - do not do. Do shoulder presses overhead instead.

9. Overhead tricep press while lying on back- do butterfly open/close instead.

10. Positions laying on stomach - don't push belly into the floor. Rocking horse movements instead of superman movements.


1. Focus, focus, focus on posture. Make a conscious effort to engage and squeeze the core when sitting, standing, etc.
2. Splint. There are several belly splints that pull the muscles in, especially useful during exercise.
3. Seeing a doctor. If you have any pain, tender bulges, issues holding urine, etc. you should see a physician. The diastasis could be a symptom of a hernia or prolapse and needs to be treated.