Should I be Sore After Every Workout?
Let me make it clear, I don’t believe feeling sore after a workout should be used as an indicator of a good workout.
So, now you may be confused and wondering, “well, if I’m not sore after a workout, then did I have a good session?” or, “Why am I sore after a workout — does this mean it was bad?” Stay with me!! I will tell you everything you need to know about why muscles get sore after a workout.
Why do muscles get sore? When we workout, our muscles are continually contracting (shortening) and extending (lengthening). This is necessary to help us to move, to lift weights, to jump and so on. However, when a muscle is lengthened a little more than it’s used to, it can experience small tears (called micro-tears). This is completely normal and can then present as a dull, achy pain or even stiffness in your muscles 12-72 hours later. The technical term for this is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also known as DOMS. If you’re not sure what I mean, let me explain it this way — have you ever done a tough leg workout and then gone to the bathroom the next day and not been able to sit on the toilet? LOL. Or it was tough to walk up stairs? That’s the muscle soreness that I’m talking about!
When you’re new to an exercise program, you might be sore after workouts quite often. In fact, you might be sore after every workout! This is because your muscles are being used in different ways to what they have previously and they are learning to adapt. While your body is adapting, you can take steps to help your body recover from workouts too.
What does it mean if I am not sore after a workout? After doing the same exercises or exercise program for a while, you may find the frequency (how often it happens) and severity of feeling muscle soreness is reduced.
This is because your body can begin to get used to that style of training. That means there might be fewer micro tears, which can result in less muscle soreness after working out and a faster recovery. In other words, this is a sign that your body is adapting and changing, which is a good thing! Faster recovery is good.
Many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they are not sore after a workout, or the next day, that their exercise program is no longer working for them. This is not the case. Your body is getting fitter and stronger, and who doesn’t want that? Let’s be real here, would we all keep working out if we experienced extremely sore muscles after every single workout? Definitely not!
Once you establish a consistent fitness routine, then you might find that you are not sore after workouts. You might find that the only time you notice muscle soreness might be when you do a new exercise that forces you to use your muscles in a different way. Or maybe when you do a targeted workout that requires you to work the same muscles (or muscle groups), such as your legs, over and over.
While feeling sore after a workout might make you feel like you’ve had a good exercise session, it’s important to remember that if you are NOT sore after a workout, it does not mean that your workout was useless or a waste of your time.
How can I tell if I’m making progress when I am not sore after every workout? Once you no longer feel sore after working out, you might start to question whether you are still making progress with your workouts.
When I say ‘progress’ I’m not just talking about losing weight. I’m asking you: is your workout routine is making you fitter? Are you able to do more reps or lift heavier weights than when you first started? Are you becoming more defined? Are you able to push through a tough workout better than you used to? Do you walk away from each of your workouts feeling like you’ve given it your all? If you answered yes to most or all of those questions, then it is likely that your workout routine is effective for you and your body, even if you’re not experiencing muscle soreness after every workout. These can be signs your fitness is improving thanks to your hard work!
You don't want to chase the soreness, you want to chase the progress!