This is another fitness myth that just won’t die: the more sore you are, the better workout you had…which is pretty closely related to “no pain, no gain”. So the bro-science myth that got handed around was that muscle soreness was caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Truth– lactic acid doesn’t have anything to do with muscle soreness. So what’s really causing that post leg day ache (known as DOMS– Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness– by those in the know)?
It’s from the microtears (or microtrauma) that are happening in your muscles, which cause inflammation. Inflammation causes the pain receptors to be activated, as the inflammation does its thing and helps your body heal. First things first, these microtears are a good thing. This is actually how your muscles grow and become stronger. But the microtears (and thus the soreness) are only happening when you take your body to places its never been before (or in so long the body has forgotten.) So if you’re doing a similar type workout with similar weights as you’ve used before, you’re likely to not be as sore, since your body is a master at adapting. But when you throw in a new exercise, or pair exercises together in a new way, or add another set, or increase the weight, or suddenly start taking your exercise through a full range of motion, that’s when you’ll start feeling the difference. Just because you aren’t sore doesn’t mean you didn’t have a great workout. I’m doing a lot of intense HIIT style work right now, which leave me a dripping, spent puddle of person… but I’m not typically sore. Now when I started throwing together straight bar deadlifts and jump squats? Yeah, I felt that! Quit judging your workouts based on your level of soreness, and start focusing on the intensity with which you train. Can you carry on a conversation? Are you resting and/or talking a lot between sets? Are you giving it everything you have?
And just FYI, Women tend to experience less muscle soreness than Men. (I’ll save the snide remarks about how we just handle pain better.)
Some other things to remember:
- Ongoing muscle soreness can also be a sign of overtraining. If it feels like you’re constantly sore, it may be time to change your routine or back off and rest a little.
- Ongoing muscle soreness can also be a sign that you’re not getting enough protein (amino acids) and your muscles are having a hard time repairing the microtears. If you’re looking for a new way to do whey, here’s my fall favorite: Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake
Think your same ol’, same ol’ workout is gonna get you to your goals? Check out tomorrow’s post!