Tag Archives: Muscle Soreness

Muscle Soreness


Everyone has heard the saying “no pain, no gain”, however, this statement is only partially true. If you don’t train hard you won’t get any results. On the other hand, if you are getting too sore from your workouts it can dramatically slow down your progress. If you experience too much muscle soreness you are either training too intensely or infrequently.

Training too intensely could involve using advanced training principles during the beginning or intermediate stages of training. This usually happens as novice gym goers try to tackle the workouts they see their heroes doing in muscle magazines. They forget these athletes have been training for years and many of them are on steroids.

It also means that you might be doing too much thinking more is better. Many are guilty of this mistake. I remember myself when i first started out eagerly trying out every exercise in the Arnold Schwarzenegger bodybuilding encyclopedia; every workout and barely being able to straighten out my arms the next day.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your physique. Variety is great but in practice you will need to stick with certain central exercises such as the bench press, barbell curl, and squat your entire training career.

Training infrequently is another major cause of muscle soreness. If you just started a new program expect to be sore for the first while. Your body begins to adapt to the new program and the degree of muscle soreness experienced declines. This doesn’t mean your body is no longer benefiting from the workout, it just means in order to maximize results you need to push a little harder.

I also made the mistake of following bodybuilding routine in which each body part is trained only once a week. Each time I did the each workout I was sore for days. This type of training is absolutely absurd for a natty bodybuilder.

Getting in shape means you no longer walk around like an old man despite how hard you train. If your muscles have a small amount of soreness don’t be afraid to train them. In fact, this is how they grow. Your muscles didn’t have a chance to wait around all week and recover.

As a natty you should train each muscle group at least 2 to 3 times a week if you want to make progress. If you experience muscle soreness just remember each muscle group only needs 24 hours of rest before it can be worked again. If you wait too long you will completely bypass the training effect that follows each workout.

Your body responds and adapts to each workout and there is a small window of improved performance that must be opened. The balance between frequency and intensity is vital to maximize results. If you train too hard too often you won’t make any gains. If you train infrequently but push yourself really hard you still won’t make any progress.

However, in order to maximize results these two variables need to be in perfect balance. Remember, the old saying is true, “no pain, no gain”. However, it is much easier to have a plan to train smart instead of having to work hard.

What Causes Muscle Soreness?

Muscle soreness is the result of small microtears that occurs in muscle fibers during intense physical exertion. This phenomenon is also referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Many fitness experts use this phrase and don’t understand it at all. They lack the background in science necessary to fully understand understand what is going on inside the muscles when they get sore.

Our bodies are elastic, pliable structures that can only withstand a certain amount of shearing force. A sprained ankle is an example of this. The joint is temporarily forced into an unnatural position stretching the ligaments holding the joint in place, as well as straining the muscles and tendons.

The end result is an onset of soreness resulting from swelling. Typical first aid measures can be applied, such as elevating this part of the body allowing blood and lymphatic fluid to drain and the application of ice to induce vasoconstriction.

This is no different than sprained ankle. When your body is pushed to the limit with resistance training, small microtears occur in the fibers of the muscles. When muscle fibers are torn, their content spills out into the surrounding extracellular matrix. This is turn creates an immunological response resulting in local swelling. The swelling or inflammation puts pressure on nerves resulting in pain associated with muscle soreness.

As such, many of the home remedies that work for sport injuries such as a sprained ankle will also work for excessive muscle soreness. An extreme case of this would be someone taking antihistamines prior to an intense workout to combat muscle excessive soreness. This is a rarity but I actually had a client that claimed he was allergic to exercise in that if he trained too intensely his immune system responded aggressively to muscle damage.

Another example is to use ibuprofen instead of acetaminophen because the former is an anti-inflammatory whereas the later only masks pain.

Now this that said, if you are experiencing this type of muscle soreness there is probably something wrong. Either you have been sedentary for far too long or are using some type of crazy Heavy Duty training and doing forced reps by having a large bodybuilder jump onto the barbell. However, there are 6 billion people on the planet for exceptions to exist.

I was once challenged by a gym manager to do 100 reps in the biceps curl with an empty Olympic barbell. I wanted to show off to this guy so I ended up doing 150 reps. I sure showed him – the next day I couldn’t straighten my arms and they remained this way for 5 days.

Okay, so the joke was on me. I took plenty of ibuprofen and sat on the couch while watching TV and alternated which biceps I placed the ice pack on.

In short, muscle soreness is swelling that occurs as a result of tearing inside the muscle fibers. Muscle soreness is analogous to other sport injuries and typical immunological responses and can be treated similarly.