What Every Fitness Junkie Must Know About Post Workout Muscle Soreness

With catchphrases like “feel the burn” and “no pain, no gain” being the most popular with fitness junkies, it’s no surprise that most of us associate workout gains with some amount of physical discomfort. But does this always hold true and does it mean that your workout is ineffective if you don’t experience any muscle soreness?

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Muscle Soreness In Beginners

“Beginners experience muscle soreness to a greater extent because in this stage the muscles are forced to work at a higher intensity than they are accustomed to”

When you begin exercising, muscle pain is almost unavoidable and it’s also seen as rewarding! Yes, post workout muscle pain in beginners can be motivating as you feel like the results are instantly visible. However, when you’ve been working out for months, muscle pain following a workout may not be very common. Some find this disheartening, as they mistakenly assume that they have hit a ceiling and cannot progress any further. In reality, you keep progressing if your exercise duration and intensity can progressively increase – beginners experience muscle soreness to a greater extent because in this stage the muscles are forced to work at a higher intensity than they are accustomed to. This increases micro-tears in muscles and rebuilding of the connective tissues.

Muscle Soreness From Working Out

“Muscle soreness is not always indicative of muscle growth & at times can even be indicative of overuse – this makes it important to understand the different types of muscle pain associated with working out”

The truth is, muscle soreness is not always indicative of muscle growth and can even be indicative of overuse – understanding the different types of aches and pains can give you a better insight into how your workout routine helps and affects muscle growth. In the context of a workout, there are two types of muscle soreness.

Acute Muscle Soreness (AMS)

Acute muscle soreness describes the pain that affects muscles while you are working out, as well as soon after a workout. This is believed to occur because of a buildup of chemical byproducts from exercising, as well as due to tissue edema from blood plasma moving into the muscle tissues, and muscle fatigue. This kind of pain is normal and will usually dissipate within a few minutes or hours after the workout, provided the muscles are allowed to relax.

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This type of muscle damage builds endurance, as the cellular repair of muscles strengthens them.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Delayed onset muscle soreness on the other hand surfaces one to three days following the workout. Once thought to be caused by lactic buildup, studies now show that this type of workout muscle pain has more to do with micro-tears in the muscles’ connective tissue. As these micro-tears heal, the muscles are strengthened.

Nevertheless, muscle pain or muscle soreness alone, is a poor indicator of muscle breakdown, as not everyone experiences DOMS.

How Can I Tell If My Workout Is Helping Muscle Growth?

So, now that we’ve ruled out muscle soreness as a good indicator for muscle growth, how do you know if you’re getting any closer to your fitness goals? It’s actually pretty simple and doesn’t involve any pain! Manage any of these, and there’s no need to worry about stagnating:

1. Increasing the number of reps with the same weight

2. Increasing the weights you use

3. Reducing your rest or recovery intervals

If you’re really concerned about building muscle, make it a point to include compound exercises with higher weights. Be consistent with your practice and keep building on your routine progressively and you will have nothing to worry about, whether or not you experience muscle soreness!

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