Do I need to be sore after every workout?

By September 22, 2020Blog

Someone asked me, “Hey, do I need to be sore after workouts?”  I thought that’s a good question because, the answer is yes and no.

It really depends on your purpose for training. If you’re looking to maintain your current muscle mass or your physique, you don’t need to be sore every time you train, you can just get a nice pump where your muscles feel swollen and engorged with blood.

If you’ve never felt a pump, well, then you haven’t lifted weights.

You’ve been doing it wrong. The muscles should feel really tight and swollen when you’ve worked them enough. Like I said, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna be sore, but it means you put enough blood flow in there to maintain the mass you’ve got or the definition. If you want strength, you don’t necessarily need to be sore for that.

In powerlifting, they want to have a lower body weight, but be able to generate a lot of force. Obviously a lot of those guys are real big to begin with, but if compare to the Olympic lifters, a lot of those athletes can lift a ton of weight and they’re not very large humans. And what’s happening is, is the nervous system is developing.

And yes, you do grow muscle over time. But it’s not the same as a bodybuilder training style that focuses on increasing your muscle mass, making it bigger (hypertrophy). For strength, you might be a little sore, but you don’t have to be sore.

You just need to stimulate your muscles. And like I said, you get stronger as a result of your nervous system helping contract the muscle fibers harder. That’s your brain and your nerves working together.

Now if you want to grow, you need to be sore.

If you want your muscles to get bigger, you need to be sore. But here, you know, that’s a double edged sword. You don’t need to be sore for four to seven days. If you are, you’re over-training and you’re not going to grow very well, but by the same token, you should be sore two to three days, or at least be aware that you’ve worked those muscle groups.

If you don’t feel anything the next day or two, then you probably went a little easy and you should step up the intensity to stimulate the muscles to grow, and it’s a combination of good weight and good reps in terms of rep schemes. If you want more information in detail about what that looks like, like how many reps at what weight we can answer that later, but it’s a really big topic to talk about in a few minutes.

Usually, you need a training split. A split means that you work specific muscle groups on certain days. That’s important if you’re looking to gain strength & size, because if you work the same things every day the muscle fibers get fried out. The muscle tissues don’t have enough recovery time and they don’t get much stronger or you don’t grow.

For general fitness and to maintain yourself, you could do the same routine daily, as long as you get a nice pump. You’ll stay healthy and maintain the muscle size. You’ll get the definition.

So it kind of depends on your goals, whether you need to be sore or not, but you should not be sore consistently for five to six days in a row. That means you’re overdoing it.

Your trainer should know how to assist that. They should know your capabilities. They shouldn’t be beating the crap out of you, especially if you’re 40 years+ without hormone replacement therapy. If you’ve got this young, typically 18 to 25 year old personal trainer that gives you a workout program like they train themselves – they’re going to overdo it on you.

You just don’t have enough foam rolling to recover from some of the beatings that they can take. And you know, I’m sorry, it is what it is, but there’s a lot of young folks in the fitness industry and they don’t know what it’s like to be an older person. Who’s 40, 50, 60 years old because they’re not there. They never experienced it.

Doesn’t mean you have to take it easy or go lighter per se, but there’s a lot of factors that need to be considered. Like I said, the hormone levels, the training tempo and intensity, and with regard to age. So, you know, it kind of bothers me that some of these kids just beat the hell out of everybody, but they don’t know any better.

We’re pretty seasoned, more experienced professionals. So interview your trainer before you pick one in that case. Like I said, you don’t need to go easy per se, as you get older, but you need to know your capabilities and your coach should be able to assess that and push you to the limit, but not over the limit. You know, it’s a balance, it’s a fine line.

So to answer the question, do you need to have sore muscles after your workout? It depends on your goal. So you have to interpret that for what your purpose is, but for general fitness and strength things, not really.

If you want to grow, you should be sore a little bit, but two or three days of what we call delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) tops, you shouldn’t be beat up for five to seven days. That’s excessive. Like I said, you don’t have enough recovery time to go back to your next workout if you’re sore that long.

So anyhow hope everyone has a great day and that’s my 2 cents of the day.

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