Some thoughts and discussions from me.

Why a Workout Doesn’t Need to Leave You Feeling Sore to be Effective

If you’re one of those people who just love when you feel sore the next day after a workout, you’re not alone. Nearly all of my clients tell me this, and admittedly, I feel the same way!

But — if you don’t feel sore after a workout, it does not mean your workout was ineffective.

In fact, unless it’s the beginning of a new training program, or you’ve added a new training stimulus or progression, soreness can be a red flag.

If you feel sore after most workouts, it could be a sign that your recovery game needs some attention. When training, the goal is to get a proper stimulus, NOT to be sore.

What helps to keep soreness at bay is optimal recovery.

Think:

  • Quality sleep
  • Good nutrition
  • Proper peri-workout nutrition

Never make soreness your primary indicator for growth or progress. It might be a good feeling for you that validates your workout, which is fine, but make sure to

a) place workout recovery as a high concern, and

b) don’t allow it to be your indicator for whether a workout was effective or not.

Instead, place your priority on getting good tension on the muscle during the workout, on proper execution, and moving with intent.

Now, if a workout does leave you feeling sore — maybe you added a specific training stimulus to your program, or it’s your first or second week in your new plan — should you rest the next day?

Generally, I tell my clients no. Unless your soreness is extreme, I usually have my clients proceed with their planned workouts. Soreness is likely a biochemical response to your nervous system rather than actual tears in the muscle.

That said, I would take some extra time in your warm up, include plenty of activation exercises, and maybe avoid any extreme workouts, moving too quickly or ballistically. 

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