What To Do When You Have Sore Legs From Squats

Andy Green (50y, US Army) sent me this email asking how to deal with sore legs on StrongLifts 5×5, and how to eliminate your belly and chest fat. Quote…

Hello.. Mehdi

My name is Andy and I’ve been doing “stronglifts5x5” since 23 Jan 11… and I love it. I’ll be “50” in April and I’m getting back into the shape that I was when I was in the Army. I retired back in 1995 and I let myself go… not good. I gained weight… when I retired I weighed about 174 lbs at 5′ 8″ and I got up to 302 lbs. Very sad… I was told I had diabetes and I also have sleep apnia.

Well, YOUR program is changing my life. I feel great and people are asking ME what I’ve been doing to lose weight and how was I getting “thicker” is what one guy quoted to me. Man…comments like those is what make one want to go back too the gym. I look forward to the next day that I can lift… don’t get me wrong here… there are times that I’m very sore from my last lifts… but NO EXCUSES. I even went home sick one day from work… but I still did my workout. It even made me feel better…weird.

I have a couple questions for you.

  1. I’m getting “thicker” but I still have a lot of belly fat and chest fat… how can I get it off?
  2. Should I doing any cardio AFTER lifting or BEFORE lifting?
  3. My legs are very sore… next day not too bad… but 2nd day it’s freak-in hard to even walk… how can I “ease” the pain?

I’ve been passin on the STRONGLIFTS 5X5 to all of my co-workers at work… they have seen what is done for me in 9 weeks and now they want to try it. I told them… if you don’t go every time your suppose to go… it’s not going to work… you need to be committed.

I’m down to 274 lbs…want to be at 200 by April of 2012…

I hope you get this message from me…I know your very busy. I want to tell you THANKS!! You are the MAN!

Retired… “NEVER QUIT”

Thanks for spreading the word and great job training even though you felt sick. Nobody ever wants to lift on those days, but everybody feels better afterwards. And how often have I hit PRs on days where I felt like crap? Most guys stay at home when they have a simple cold, and never discover what you’ve learned.

Your first question – to eliminate your belly fat and man boobs you simply have to lower your body fat. You’re 274lb at 5’8″ so it’s obvious that you carry a lot of excess fat. Spot reduction is a myth. The key is to eat less calories than your body burns. Cleaning up your diet by eating more whole foods and less junk is the start.

Second question – cardio AFTER lifting. Doing cardio first would get your legs tired for Squats and limit the amount of weight you can use. Strength training is more important than cardio for fat loss because it prevents muscle loss when dieting which is vital in order not to turn skinny-fat. So do cardio after if you want to, but remember to clean up your diet – cardio + junk diet = useless.

Third question – foam roll your legs daily to get rid of the soreness faster. Don’t ever skip workouts, this only makes things worse – the best way to eliminate soreness is to train your legs again since this flushes blood into your muscles. The soreness will almost always go away after your warm-up sets.

To be honest, the soreness could last a few months until your legs are used to all the work. My trainingpartner has been lifting with me for 6 months and he says his legs are sore all the time while mine rarely are. Now since his Squat has skyrocketed to 297lb and his Deadlift to 374lb during this time, there’s no overtraining B.S. going on here, he has and continue to make progress.

Drop the cardio for now so your legs have less work to do, consider switching from 5×5 to 3×5 earlier since you’re in your 50s now, and foam roll your legs daily (or better, get a masseuse). Most important: remember eating too little hurts recovery, so eat plenty of whole foods and drink a gallon of water a day for hydration. But always keep Squatting, the soreness will go away.

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