The first time we go to the gym, or after the first workout, there are always those new feelings that accompany us. While you work out, you feel that you have muscles on your back, on your butt and you even feel the abs, which you are waiting to pop up – a hint that they are there and it is just a matter of time to see them.
The new feelings are not reserved just for the workout – it leaves a longer lasting stamp a couple days after that. Today I am gonna write about muscle soreness. Everybody experiences it in a different way. I have trained with so many people and sometimes it is really interesting what a subjective feeling is muscle soreness- some people tolerate it big, others break down even when they feel the slightest symptom of it. It happens on a daily basis – to train with people who cannot differ pain (as an injury) from pain as muscle soreness.
After their first meet with Bulgarian split squats or push-ups, most people come back to the gym with strong muscle soreness and some of them even rush to write me a text message, where they ask a bunch of questions. That is why, today I will answer to most of them.
1.If I do not have muscle soreness after the workout, does that mean that I am not training properly?
Strong muscle soreness after a workout, doesn’t always mean that we are doing things right. Just as, the lack of muscle soreness, doesn’t mean that we didn’t have a good training session.
Muscle soreness is the condition of the body when there is a break-down of proteins and then the muscle building that follows it – both of which are a consequence of working out. The moment when the quantity of the work we have done, goes above the quantity of work that our body is used to endure. In this sense, if you are inactive and you go hiking in the mountain, you will probably have muscles soreness on the next day. If I go hiking, on the next they I won’t even remember that I have hiked. The most that could happen is just feel tired. Does that mean that I didn’t load my body? No!
It means that my body and the body of somebody who haven’t moved recently, are adapted to a different level of physical activity.
Personally, I DONT EVER’GET SORE. The reason is not that I do not train hard enough. The reason is that my body is so adapted to physical activity, that its reaction to the load is different. Workouts are a type of micro trauma in the working muscles, which leads to some kind of inflammation or pain. Inflammation doesn’t mean something bad – it means that in the body, there are processes which are taking place, which have the goal to recover the traumatized parts. If the workout is effective, there will be always some kind of a different feeling – it might be muscle soreness, a feeling of muscle stiffness and something like a feeling that the muscles are swelled up.
In my case, I never have muscle soreness, but after heavy hip thrusts or heavy Bulgarian squats, my muscles always feels welled up and tired. The day after the workout, you might feel your body, as if you have less mobility – as if your muscles are stiff.
Muscle soreness is a normal feeling for every beginner, but as an advanced trainee, muscle soreness stops being an indicator of how effective a workout is. The body gets adapted and you need to search for another measure of effectiveness – your achievements in the gym.
2.Can I train when I have muscle soreness?
In 95% of the cases, I’d say – yes! Working out increases blood flow to muscles, which leads to an increased transportation of nutrients, which helps recovery.
There are cases, when muscle soreness is so strong and it leads to too much stiffness and feeling of lack of elasticity. Then, it is better to rest. Such muscle soreness is more of an indication for improper distribution of the loading This doesn’t lead to better results, and it even slows down progress. So, if your muscle soreness is so strong, this means you are not structuring your workouts properly.
If you are one of the 95% of people, who have an acceptable level of muscle soreness, I’d recommend you go earlier in the gym; take a foam roller and massage your muscles. Then, do some exercises for mobility and start the workout with a warm-up, that has some kind of gradation and prepares your body for the heavier part.
Last, but not least, muscle soreness allows for a more conscious way of movement. A lot of beginners don’t have an awareness of their own body. When I ask them: “where do you feel the load during the movement?”, the answer is: “I don’t know!”Muscle soreness is something like the feedback from the body – which are the muscles involved in a particular movement – so do not resist it – enjoy it and get to know your body.
3.”Lately, I have changed my diet and I am happy that I get leaner, but I have a really strong muscle soreness after each workout. What is the reason?”
The reason is exactly this – the diet. Sometimes, strong muscle soreness is caused from inadequate nutrient intake, in combination with heavy physical activity. This doesn’t allow muscles to recover and micro-traumas stay longer and have a more painful character. Give it a thought – are you eating enough? If you really need to be in a more severe calorie deficit, then pay attention to your pre and post workout meals. Try to concentrate enough calories and nutrients in this window, so you can fuel your body before and after the workout. Leave less food for the other part of the day.
4.”What should I take after a workout so I don’t get sore?”
I’ve always asked myself how did the whole thing with taking pills after a workout start? Are we so soft that even the light, pleasant pain from being sore makes it difficult to bear?
Besides that, most pills, which we take with that goal – like aspirin, actually have unpleasant consequences. This type of pills, interfere with the speed of recovery, by artificially masking some of the signals, that initiate the building and the recovery of the muscle – i.e. they interfere with our progress.
If you really need to relief the feeling – just take a contrast shower and massage with the foam roller… and sure, start working out more often and soon you won’t feel like this.
5.Does the lack of muscle soreness mean that I am not building muscle?
The short answer is – no. Hypertrophy or muscle growth is due to three main factors – mechanical pressure, metaboliц stress (stimulus), adequate stimulus on the muscle.
Micro trauma on the muscle is an contributing factor to hypertrophy, but not the only one or the main one. Even though it plays a role in muscle growth, micro trauma has a limiting return of the investment – i.e. after a particular level, it gives the opposite results. Too much muscle soreness, decreases the ability of the muscle to produce force, which decreases our physical abilities throughout the next couple workouts – i.e. we can’t train heavy enough, in order to create the stimulus, required for hypertrophy.
6.Why I have a stronger muscle soreness on the second day after the workout?
As I mentioned, muscle soreness is an inflammatory process, which has the goal to recover the muscle. Every process, suggests some kind of accumulation. Muscle soreness takes place 4-6 hours after the workout and reaches its peak in the next 48 hours. So, it is completely normal to feel the strongest muscle soreness on the second day – that is the peak of the recovery. In the body, nothing happens for the particular moment – that is why it is important to fuel our body properly and recover better, even on the days after the workout – everything accumulates and adds up and then it reflects on the way we feel.