Putting off a new exercise routine to avoid inevitable soreness? Read on to find out what causes this soreness and ways you can decrease its severity, so you can focus the activities and sports you enjoy!
DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is muscle soreness that occurs 24 – 48 hours after a workout. It’s not the same as the pain that happens during training.
Although you may have heard that muscle soreness is a result of lactic acid build-up, it is actually the result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers.
This damage is normal, but the good news is you do not have to get sore, to get results.
1. Mix up eccentric and concentric exercises
While many different forms of exercise can cause DOMS, there is one type that causes worse soreness than others. Eccentric exercise or exercise that requires a slow lowering of the weight causes the most damage to muscle fibers.
This slow lowering of the weight, during a squat for example, is beneficial for increasing lean muscle mass and reducing tendonitis symptoms, but also causes the most severe soreness.
Concentric-only exercises like pushing a prowler prevent muscle damage, but still provide great benefit. I recommend doing a combination of both eccentric and concentric exercise.
2. Perform exercises that place similar stresses on the body
Another thing that can intensify soreness is doing exercises that you are unfamiliar with.
Switching the type of resistance, grip, exercise variation, etc. is ideal to be a well-rounded athlete, but switching these too often can yield more soreness.
I suggest only changing a few variables at a time and doing each exercise for at least 4 weeks. For example, use the barbell bench press as your main pressing movement for 4 weeks, then switch to the dumbbell incline bench press once progress stalls.
3. Increase workout frequency
The amount of time between your workouts also plays a role in how sore you get. Logically it makes sense that the less often you work out the less time you’ll be sore, but it is actually the opposite.
When you work out more frequently, your body adapts and begins to recover faster, which causes you to be less sore or sore for a shorter amount of time.
My advice is to allow at least 48 hours between resistance training workouts, but no longer than 72 hours if you are concerned about being sore. This figures out to about 2 – 3 workouts per week.
Cody Lichthardt is a Performance Enhancement Specialist at Quad City Sport Performance and a Certified Personal Trainer at Rock Valley Health. Cody works to help others gain the benefits of training and proper nutrition. You can read Cody’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.