Is post-workout muscle soreness a good indicator of how effective your workout was?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 09, 2008 2:18 AM GMT
    In other words, if you don't "feel it" the next day, does that mean you didn't work hard enough?

    And I don't mean actual pain, like you've hurt yourself, just general soreness.

    Thoughts?
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Jul 09, 2008 3:48 AM GMT
    In general, my feeling is that soreness a few hours later is a good sign, but next day it isn't a strong indicator.
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    Jul 09, 2008 3:52 AM GMT
    No, its not a good indicator. What you're talking about is called DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness. This can be effected by nutrition, macronutrient ratios, number of sets, number of reps, weight, intensity, time under tension, lifting experience, hormonal factors, etc. There are a lot of variables to DOMS, and usually you will get less and less of it as you get to be more experienced in your lifts.

  • zi0nx5

    Posts: 27

    Jul 09, 2008 4:06 AM GMT
    Hmm..too bad. I kind of like that feeling. I only get it the first couple times I hit the gym if I haven't been in awhile. It's like a strange, uncomfortable, but fulfilling high of sorts icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 09, 2008 4:10 AM GMT
    Uh, it is a good indicator, lol. Being sore a few hours later or the next day means your muscles got a good workout and that they're repairing themselves. As said before, your muscles will begin to feel less sore as your body gets more results. Instead, you'll get more of a 'tight' feeling.
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    Jul 09, 2008 4:13 AM GMT
    mmm i believe DOMS is actually the main indication of how effective a workout is. Seeing as muscle mass development is caused by micro tears, formed during heavy lifting, being fixed by the body, and the more micro tears you have, the more muscle you develop (assuming you get plenty of protein), then doesnt soreness indicated increased muscle tear indicate increased muscle gain?

    Not sure if that's right, but it's what i've gathered.

    According to wikipedia, evidence goes both ways.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_hypertrophy
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    Jul 09, 2008 4:52 AM GMT
    Well actually you are wrong on this. DOMS is not the main indicator of the effectiveness of a workout. For instance, in the January issue of Journal of Strength and Conditioning there was a study that showed cardioacceleration prior to resistance training dramatically reduced DOMS. Here is a direct quote from the study: "Aerobic cardioacceleration immediately before each set of resistance exercises therefore rapidly eliminates DOMS during vigorous progressive resistance training in athletes."

    If DOMS was the main indicator of the success of a workout it would not be affected by an increased heart rate prior to resistance training. That completely indicates that there are other causative factors involved.
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    Jul 09, 2008 5:00 AM GMT
    Well I have noticed my delayed muscle soreness is actually 2 days after. But yeah it does diminish. I do know that it will come back when I "Shift gears" So I use it to indicate if I have "shocked" my body out of a normal routine which can be good. So I am not sore all the time but from time to time. I guess in that very limited way it indicates to me something useful but not as a constant feature.

    What I do try to shoot for every work out (weight workout) is a good "pump" I think this is a better feedback if you are stressing your muscles good. Of course if you don't eat well with that the "pump" doesn't do well. The pump for me is an immediate feedback that I am forcing blood/water, oxygen and nutrients into the tissue.

    P.S. Also try not to focus just on "instant results" Over time, increased definition, muscle weight gain, and strength increase are good long term indicators if you are trying to "gain". However, gain is not everything, You might have other goals like maintaining, flexibility, mood elevation, etc. All I can say is that after 20+ years, I feel good! and I am happily active.
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    Jul 09, 2008 5:08 AM GMT
    You know for me and many guys I've trained with the key indicator of success is if I have progressed my workout from the last time. Muscle hypertrophy (growth) when it is simplified becomes simply the bodies adaptation to progressive physical demands. Every time I go I try to set a new personal record, meaning I lift heavier, or I do more reps. I know some guys that figure out the total amount of weight moved for each exercise (total reps x weight) and they make themselves move a greater total in the same or less time. This is the key bro, record your workouts, and try to improve some each and every time you go, and I guarantee you, DOMS or no DOMS you will grow as long as you eat right and rest.
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    Jul 09, 2008 5:52 AM GMT
    YngHungSFSD saidYou know for me and many guys I've trained with the key indicator of success is if I have progressed my workout from the last time.
    [..]
    This is the key bro, record your workouts, and try to improve some each and every time you go, and I guarantee you, DOMS or no DOMS you will grow as long as you eat right and rest.
    You are lucky to be young in this regard. Of course when you get older you cannot progress as fast, are more prone to injury, etc. So when I push myself I have to be careful as even lately I was pushing my bench-press and had shoulder pain it took me a good month to get over. Joint pain, back pain, these are the things I have to watch out for and maybe even fall back in weight/reps. I did find though in the last few years, my body is responding to really eating more (protein mainly) and ok, some supplements.

    I was a skinny 117 lbs at 20 years old when I started but have pushed as high as 180. But in my 30's, at some point I had to ditch the notebook because my progress was so slow it just discouraged me. That is when I switched to a "how I feel" approach. Had I not been such a slow gainer when I was younger, I probably would have stuck with a notebook. At the gym I go to, which can be very difficult to navigate at peak times, you are forced to improvise which can also hinder a strict plan.
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    Jul 09, 2008 6:14 AM GMT
    For those that are interested in this subject and in order to help clear up any confusion, I thought I should offer a few things. First another study that shows DOMS is not the best indicator and after that and more importantly ways to reduce it.

    First off in the December 02, edition of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports the following quote occurs: "Because of generally poor correlations between DOMS and other indicators, we conclude that use of DOMS is a poor reflector of eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation, and changes in indirect markers of muscle damage and inflammation are not necessarily accompanied with DOMS." If DOMS is not correlated with exercise induced muscle damage then it certainly is not correlated with the effectiveness of a workout. Hopefully this puts a final answer to the original question and that answer is NO.

    Next to help you avoid it.

    A new study out this month in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport showed that preconditioning the muscle with a load of ten percent of your one rep max resulted in significantly less DOMS then going directly to higher weights. The moral of the story, warming up helps reduce DOMS, while it does not decrease your strength. Interestingly, other studies have shown that cool downs do not reduce DOMS.

    Also, another study published last year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that contrast baths/showers are effective in reducing DOMS. This is basically bathing the muscles worked in alternating cold and warm water. Ice water immersion by itself was not effective.

    Another study last year showed that curcumin, the main ingredient in the spice turmeric is effective in reducing DOMS discomfort, most likely due to anti-inflammatory properties. Good news if like curry.

    A good study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that supplementation with Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) was effective in reducing DOMS and speeding muscle recovery. Simple, easy, cheap and affordable solution if you ask me. Two other supplements have also shown a positive effect in reducing DOMS, beta-hydroxyl-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) and alpha-ketoisocaproic acid (KIC).

    A study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition, indicates that inadequate protein intake and delays in replenishing muscle glycogen can be associated with increases in DOMS. This is why a recovery protein and carb shake/drink immediately after exercise is not only good for increasing muscle development but also in reducing DOMS.

    So for those interested I hope this sheds some light on the subject.
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    Jul 09, 2008 6:21 AM GMT
    ActiveAndFit said[quote][cite]YngHungSFSD said[/cite]You know for me and many guys I've trained with the key indicator of success is if I have progressed my workout from the last time.
    [..]

    I was a skinny 117 lbs at 20 years old when I started but have pushed as high as 180. But in my 30's, at some point I had to ditch the notebook because my progress was so slow it just discouraged me. That is when I switched to a "how I feel" approach. Had I not been such a slow gainer when I was younger, I probably would have stuck with a notebook. At the gym I go to, which can be very difficult to navigate at peak times, you are forced to improvise which can also hinder a strict plan.



    Absolutely bro, you bring up a great point. While it is important to progress your workouts, you do need to pay attention to how you feel. If you feel like you just cannot get another one, wait until your next workout to up it. Any time you think that going for it might be too much then back off for that session. Just make sure it's a real physical limitation and not a mental one. The bottom line is that a lot of bodybuilding, fitness and health is about learning about and knowing your own physiology. While progressing your workouts is the way to grow, over doing it can only serve to hinder you, if you end up injured then you won't be doing anything for quite awhile. Most of us though, if we really try, can squeeze out one more rep. Setting a PR every time you go to the gym is a general principle that works and works very well in helping people develop, but it should never come at the expense of injuring yourself. Thanks for bringing up an excellent point ActiveAndFit.
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    Jul 09, 2008 6:28 AM GMT
    YngHungSFSD saidAnother study last year showed that curcumin, the main ingredient in the spice turmeric is effective in reducing DOMS discomfort, most likely due to anti-inflammatory properties. Good news if like curry.
    Hah! This nutrition/supplement information is really good news. The stuff I am taking now has some of those things in it. I wonder if fish oil is mentioned anywhere in there since it has anti-inflammatory properties?

    I will say something to back up the curcumin thing (you can get this turmeric/curcuma longa extract in capsules by the way). I had a friend at Emory Medical University (near where I lived) that did a study (as far back as 8 years ago) where they were actually injecting this into the stomachs of mice. He said they were getting steroid-like muscle recovery results after exercising the mice on wheels or something. I should add he said they were using "high" doses that would not be realistic for humans. But potentially a good supplement anyway.
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    Jul 09, 2008 7:46 AM GMT
    anticliche saidThoughts?
    BTW, your arms and shoulders are looking real good there Mr.
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    Jul 09, 2008 12:22 PM GMT
    A&FI was a skinny 117 lbs at 20 years old when I started but have pushed as high as 180. But in my 30's, at some point I had to ditch the notebook because my progress was so slow it just discouraged me. That is when I switched to a "how I feel" approach. Had I not been such a slow gainer when I was younger, I probably would have stuck with a notebook. At the gym I go to, which can be very difficult to navigate at peak times, you are forced to improvise which can also hinder a strict plan.

    There is an alternative approach. You establish your maximum lifts and then work up to them incrementally (usually in 5 lb increases) over the course of 10 weeks, typically.

    This is the thinking behind HST -- that it's not the actual load but progressive loading that increases muscle.

    This program also prevents injury since it doesn't require you to push beyond your maximum until your next 10-week cycle, and then it's a relatively small increase. It maintains effectiveness by building in a period at the end of each 10-week cycle, "strategic deconditioning," where you lay off the weights for 10 days or more. It basically has the effect I'm sure you've noticed when you've had to take a few weeks off. You come back to the gym and find the weight you can lift is less but your workout actually seems more productive.

  • twentyfourhou...

    Posts: 243

    Jul 09, 2008 1:22 PM GMT
    My take - based on personal experience - i occassionaly get soreness, usually the following day.
    I get sore when; perform max wts with few reps or when starting a new routine with max wts/few reps. For me, when i am trying to max out on a routine (wt/few reps) i use soreness as a gauge to determine overall effectiveness of that paticular goal. So in essence, i know my body well enough to avoid soreness or induce it. I do not induce it with max wts/few reps regularly because - i do not beleive trying to max out with every exercise set is a good thing. For occassional short term goals or to stimulate new growth it is ..............ok? BTW - i do agree with the previous sleep/nutrition comments.

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    Jul 09, 2008 2:51 PM GMT
    obscenewish saidThis is the thinking behind HST -- that it's not the actual load but progressive loading that increases muscle.
    Yeah, I saw you post on this before and wanted to give it a try, but never have. I probably should get a book on it.
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    Jul 09, 2008 3:05 PM GMT
    hmm wow, this is all very interesting! I never really get DOMS anymore, and i thought that meant i wasnt lifting hard enough. Lol good to know that it's a good sign, not a bad sign!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 09, 2008 11:47 PM GMT
    anticliche saidIn other words, if you don't "feel it" the next day, does that mean you didn't work hard enough?

    And I don't mean actual pain, like you've hurt yourself, just general soreness.

    Thoughts?


    Not a good indicator... Magazines lie about this one.

    It's not so simple.
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    Jul 10, 2008 1:43 AM GMT
    I only get this if I don't lift for a week or two, but mine usually kicks in a day or two after a work out. Some muscle groups take a long time to heal up from it, too. My legs are still sore from 4 days ago, but my job has a lot of walking and lifting stuff from the ground involved.
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    Jul 10, 2008 2:00 AM GMT
    obscenewish said
    There is an alternative approach. You establish your maximum lifts and then work up to them incrementally (usually in 5 lb increases) over the course of 10 weeks, typically.

    This is the thinking behind HST -- that it's not the actual load but progressive loading that increases muscle.

    This program also prevents injury since it doesn't require you to push beyond your maximum until your next 10-week cycle, and then it's a relatively small increase. It maintains effectiveness by building in a period at the end of each 10-week cycle, "strategic deconditioning," where you lay off the weights for 10 days or more. It basically has the effect I'm sure you've noticed when you've had to take a few weeks off. You come back to the gym and find the weight you can lift is less but your workout actually seems more productive.



    And HST works like a bandit! I'm sure OW will attest to this, but the hardest part is determining what your maximum loads are going to be for the exercises that are laid out, or whatever exercises you decide on, because those workouts are a bitch. Or at least they were for me.

    After that, again, it's hard because it's something new and different, but eventually you get the hang of the first two weeks and then you go up and it gets progressively harder. I went through the cycle the first time, and I had a couple of the regulars notice that I put on some good mass.