Welcome back to this week’s edition of 2-Minute Tuesdays where we are talking about one exercise topic for two minutes and giving you three reasons why you should follow our advice. Now this week, we are talking to those of you who love working out to the point where you are sore. You wake up the next day and you feel achy and you love that feeling. Why should you work out not to the point of soreness?
1) Soreness Creates Excessive Stress (1)
Our first reason is that working out to the point of soreness put excessive stress on your joints, ligaments, and tendons. If you are working out super hard in the gym to create soreness, that probably means you are putting a lot of stress on your tissues, namely your muscle tissue, your tendons, your ligaments, and your joints.
Action Step: Try changing up your workouts so you can still challenge your muscular system without creating any soreness in the days that follow your workout. A simple way to do this is the Rule of 50% – if you wake up sore after your workout, the next time you do that workout, reduce either the challenge, time, or the intensity by 50%. Essentially, do half the workout you did last time. Continue to reduce your workouts by 50% until you do not wake up sore. Once you can work out without soreness, progress yourself at a rate of 5-10% every 2-6 weeks.
Related: Why Your Workouts Aren’t Working
2) Soreness Slows Down Your Results (1)
Now our second reason why you should not be working out to the point of soreness is one that goes against the grain a little bit. In fact, we think that we need to work out to the point of soreness in order to progress and get stronger, when in fact that is not the case whatsoever. The reality is that working out to the point of soreness, even the good soreness, will slow down the rate at which you are able to progress. It will slow down the rate at which you are able to get stronger, you are able to get leaner, and you are able to get more fit. So, if you want to slow down your results, keep working out until you are sore. But, if you want results faster, cut the workout before you get sore.
Action Step: Monitor your output during your workout. If you feel your strength, speed, endurance, etc. starting to go downhill, stop your workout. Ending your workout before your output starts diminishing will minimize the likelihood that you will get sore, thereby allowing you the greatest opportunity to progress. As you continue to monitor your workouts in this manner, you may find that you can push to greater levels of fatigue without experiencing soreness after your workouts. By all means, take advantage of getting in this extra training volume when it is appropriate to do so. But, in your initial stages of working out, use diminishing output levels as an indication to call your workout for the day.
3) Soreness Requires A Longer Recovery (1)
Our third reasons to not work out until you are sore is that soreness requires you to recover for a longer period of time between your workouts. This means that you are depleted to a greater amount after your workout if you were to get sore versus if you weren’t to get sore. The more sore you get, the longer you have to wait between exercise bouts.
Action Step: Remember, exercise is a process of stimulation and adaptation. It is necessary to have a recovery period when you exercise in order for your body to adapt and come back stronger. However, minimizing the amount of recovery that is necessary between your workouts will allow for more frequent stimulation. Follow the Rule of 50% listed above to make sure you are able to workout without soreness and recover well.
- Byrne C, Twist C, Eston R. Neuromuscular Function After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Sports Med. 34(1): 49-69, 2004.