Ever feel like you may not be doing enough in the gym because you are no longer getting as sore as you once did?
Should or should you not worry about getting sore after you workout?
This ‘soreness’ that people can experience in their muscles one to two days following a workout, which can last as long as five days, is referred to as delayed onset of muscle soreness or DOMS for short.
The other day, I got an email from a client of mine saying that lately they haven’t been getting DOMS after their training sessions and they asked what they were doing wrong. I asked why they assumed they were doing something wrong just because they weren’t getting sore after their workout.
In the past we were led to believe that DOMS comes from breaking down the muscle and creating micro-tears and then it recovering over time and that was what we’re getting sore from, which is true to an extent. However, what’s really causing the soreness is metabolic waste in the muscle which our bodies have to get rid of.
So, when you first start training it’s typical to notice that you get really sore for a long period of time after your workouts and then gradually, over time as you progress, the soreness starts to decrease and not last as long, until eventually you can reach a point when you don’t get DOMS at all.
This is simply because your body is adapting to the consistent training intensity, frequency etc and it is getting more efficient at getting rid of that metabolic waste. Essentially your body is getting conditioned to recover faster to get ready for the next session.
So when someone thinks that they’re not training hard enough because they’re not getting sore, it’s actually not true.
DOMS is not necessarily an indicator of a good workout, but on the other hand you can’t say that you don’t get sore anymore because you’re advanced and you’re recovering quickly.
The only way to evaluate whether you’re on a good programme and that you had a good workout is assessing progress.
So, if you went to the gym this week and you improved from your previous week’s workouts by:
Then, that indicates progression regardless of whether you get DOMS or not.
So, as long as you increase the difficulty of each session your body will have to continue to adapt to this stimulus by recovering and building new muscle.
However, there does come a point in your training where, if you do the same workouts regularly you will find that your progress starts to taper down until eventually you will hit a plateau even if you are adding more reps, weight, sets, volume etc each session.
This is why monitoring progress is important as it gives you an indication of when you need to change the exercises you do in your sessions.
From personal experience with my own training I find that I hit my plateau after around 8 weeks (doing 3 gym sessions a week). However for others, this could be more or less.
At this point I recommend completely changing the exercises you do.
So for example if I was doing bench press for my chest then I could change it to Press-ups, and if I was doing barbell bicep curls I could change this to dumbbell hammer curls.
When you change up the exercises, even if you replace them with different exercises that work the same muscle group, you will be surprised by how different it feels.
Typically you will experience the same degree of DOMS as you did when you first started training at the beginning.
This is a good indicator that your body has been given a different stimulus and, as before will begin to adapt to this over time.
AT MARK PERSONAL TRAINING MY CLIENTS LEAVE THE THINKING TO ME. I TAKE CARE OF PLANNING THEIR EXERCISE SESSIONS, WHICH ARE CREATED TAILORED TO THEIR ABILITY AND FITNESS GOALS.
THEY NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HITTING A PLATEAU AGAIN BECAUSE THEIR TRAINING IS PROGRESSIVE AND VARIED (NO TWO SESSIONS WILL EVER BE THE SAME!).
THIS MEANS MY CLIENTS GET FAST RESULTS AND THEY ENJOY IT, EVEN THOSE THAT ONCE HATED EXERCISE.