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is muscle soreness an indicator or a good workout?


Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness.

Are you familiar with this? If you have trained before I am sure you are. Whether you know it or not!

It is that soreness that kicks in and stays with you 24-72 hours post workout. When you train, your musculoskeletal system, or your muscles are put under stress. This is true to resistance training and to a certain extent cardio or aerobic training. It usually occurs after vigorous activity that you are unaccustomed to or unfamiliar with.

Now not to sound dramatic, but a process that appears to happen here is that microscopic tears occur during your workout which leads to inflammation afterwards. These sensitize nociceptors and thereby heighten the sensation of pain (Maim et al, 2001). This is a good thing. It is that stimulation and therefore adaptation process that you continually hear me harp on about. That is progressive training.

Within the often flawed fitness industry, DOMS is sometimes proclaimed as a positive thing. “You have not trained hard unless you are sore” is a line that is regularly thrashed out. Is this true and is it a good indicator of training hard or appropriately?

First off DOMS is very individual to the person that is training. There appears to a genetic component that causes some individuals to experience persistent soreness, whereas others rarely get sore at all.

High levels of soreness may be regarded as a negative. In some cases it is a sign that a lifter has pushed themselves too much. This in turn can totally decrease ones motivation to train hard or at all for that matter. That certainly is not good.

However what if you are looking to build muscle? As I previously said muscle damage causes adaptation, so wouldn’t it be appropriate to go after that muscle damage then in order to cause stress and damage? Yes it would.

Context is really important here. If you are looking to build muscle, a certain amount of DOMS seems a good strategy. Outside of that I am not so sure. DOMS is acceptable but not to the extent that it will compromise your next workout. That’s not a cop out either. If you change your program or you have just started training, DOMS is a given. It’s unavoidable. Just not an excessive amount.

Can it be avoided?



By exposing yourself to more training! Lucky you!

By factoring all of the above I think it is fair to say that using DOMS to assess the quality of your training session is inherently limited.

If I were you I would not be using it to gauge if you are going Beastmode or not!


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