Should you be sore after every workout? How often should you be sore?
To start off, no, you should not be sore after every workout.
If you’re not sore it doesn’t count, you didn’t work hard enough. This is an old myth and it’s simply not true. Muscle soreness is PRIMARILY due to micro tears in your muscle fibers. This is what the muscles have to recover from and literally heal from when you experience soreness. Yes, lactic acid is involved momentarily, but not long term.
We also must discuss levels of soreness. For the sake of this post I am talking about a level of soreness that lasts longer than 48 hours.
Nope. All you need to do to grow new muscle is to stress that muscle more than it has been stressed or stress it in a new way to elicit a growth response. This CAN happen without actually feeling sore. You must also remember that feeling sore is a pain receptor response. So this can vary greatly from person to person and muscle group to muscle group.
When you feel sore, you have in a sense, damaged the muscle fibers and it needs to recover in order to (ideally) come back stronger.
Don’t get me wrong, feeling sore is okay and it should happen. But not after every workout. If you’re sore after every workout, you’re likely not recovering and building new muscle. This is not what you want if strength or muscle gains is any part of your fitness goal.
You’re expected to feel sore when you start a new phase. This is because you will be loading the muscles in a new manner (doing different exercises) or for a different amount of volume/intensity (more sets or more time under tension). This is when you can expect to feel sore.
If you are eating optimally and getting adequate sleep, you can expect to feel minor soreness after each workout. I wouldn’t even call this soreness. The level of soreness I am talking about is the kind that you may not even notice until you start warming up and stretching the area the next day or two.
So any time you change up your training, you may experience soreness. But you absolutely 100% do not need to feel muscle soreness to make gains my friend. If I was sore after every leg day, there is no way I could lift legs three days a week. You feel me?
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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