For whatever reason, most people judge the effectiveness of their workouts based off of how sore they are the next day.
They like to wear muscular soreness like a badge of honor and relish any opportunity they get to tell their friends just how sore they are.
Oh man! I can barely walk! Yesterday was leg day! Hahahahahhahahaha!
Well my friends, today I’m here to let you know that delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) has no direct correlation with building bigger stronger muscles.
Muscle soreness isn’t the result of lactic acid build up in your muscles and it doesn’t mean that you’ve “torn” your muscles down so they can grow bigger and stronger.
In fact, muscle soreness is more closely related to disease than anything else.
Why People Enjoy DOMS
Most people enjoy experiencing DOMS because they want to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Since they don’t know any better, they think that exercising for the sole purpose of feeling sore the next day is the best approach to take if they want to get results from their training.
And the crooked fitness industry does nothing to help the situation either.
For example, if you were to read an article about training on any mainstream “fitness” website, they’d prescribe you some bullshit routine that constantly changes up your exercises, sets, and reps in order to “keep your body guessing” AKA make you sore as fuck.
The same goes for all mainstream “workout” videos as well. Throughout the whole video, you’ll hear the instructor saying things like –
Oh yeah, great job, feel that muscle burn! We’re gonna be nice and sore tomorrow!
Hell, I even experienced that nonsense first hand when I was working as a trainer at Blue Balls Fitness. The training managers would always tell me to “kill” my clients and make them as sore as possible.
When I refused to conduct unproductive training sessions that did nothing but make my client sore, I promptly got a talking to by the boss man who threatened to fire me and told me that I didn’t know what I was doing.
I so badly wanted to explain to him that –
DOMS isn’t a precursor to muscle growth and development. All DOMS are is an inflammatory response by the body in an attempt to get more blood and nutrients to an area that has experienced trauma. DOMS doesn’t mean that you had a great workout. It means that your body is upset and trying to regulate itself.
What Causes DOMS
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness has four main causes –
#1 Performing A New Exercise
If you perform an exercise for the first time, chances are that you will be sore for the next 2-5 days. This is normal and to be expected.
However, you’ll notice that as time goes on, your body will get used to performing the new exercise you’ll almost never get sore! Even though you are continuing to get bigger and stronger.
#2 Training After A Layoff
Stoppages in your training, which usually happen because of injury, will happen throughout your lifting career and can last anywhere from weeks to months.
When this happens, lifting weights will be somewhat of a shock to your body for your first couple of workouts back. This will cause you to be sore for a while, but again, as long as you stay consistent, the soreness will go away and you’ll be back to lifting your old poundages in no time.
#3 Accentuating The Eccentric (Lowering) Part Of An Exercise
This is also called doing negatives by professional bodybuilders and it is the main reason why experienced trainees experience DOMS.
You can take any avid weightlifter off the street and put him through a workout that forces him to slowly lower the weight during each rep and mark my words, he’ll cry like a little girl.
Again, this will do nothing to make that lifter bigger, stronger, or improve his body composition in any way. But if the said lifter is dumb enough, he’ll be amazed by your ability to make him sore after so many years of training and hire you as his personal trainer. No bullshit.
In a nutshell, that’s how the personal training industry works.
#4 Performing An Unusually High Amount Of Volume
If you decide to do an amount of volume (sets and reps) for a given exercise that you don’t normally do, you’ll be punching yourself a one-way ticket to DOMStown.
For example, if you’re used to doing bench press for 5×5 and perform 5×10 instead, you’re probably going to experience some muscle soreness the next day.
The Problem With Experiencing DOMS All The Time
Now, if you’ve made it this far into the article and still think that DOMS is a good sign of productive training, I want you to understand that constant muscle soreness can lead to the following conditions –
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
- Vascular Disease (veins & arteries)
- Heart Disease
And many more.
Simply put, experiencing constant muscle soreness isn’t healthy for your body, nor is it a sign that you are partaking in an effective exercise program.
How To Train Effectively In The Gym
If your goal is to become bigger, stronger, and healthier, you need to make sure that you’re participating in an effective training program that allows you to get stronger.
Your program should include all of the major compound barbell exercises (squat, bench press, deadlift, Overhead Press, Barbell Row) and place an emphasis on adding weight to the barbell whenever possible.
You should only be training for 3-4 days a week while training each exercise twice within a week.
Please take a look at the example below.
Monday – Workout A
Wednesday – Workout B
Squat – 3×5
Friday – Workout A
Squat – 3×5
Bench Press – 3×5
Barbell Row – 3×5
Start with an empty barbell, add 5 pounds to each exercise every workout, and continue alternating between workouts A and B.
It really is as simple as that.
Occasional Muscle Soreness
Experiencing occasional muscle soreness is a normal part of weight training that we all have to go through from time to time. But it doesn’t mean that you are making positive changes to your body.
I personally experienced the greatest results of my life when I decided to ditch the high rep pump training routines forever and leave the shitty feeling of DOMs behind.
From The Man Himself –