Ladies–do your workouts leave you feeling achy and sore after? Do you avoid working out because you don’t like feeling sore? Do you choose to not increase the weight you use because you think you will feel sore after?

I hear these things from women all the time…

“I am always sore for at least two days after I workout…”

“I don’t want to workout because I hate feeling sore…”

“I can’t lift heavier, otherwise I will get sore…”

Let’s get a couple things straight:

First, feeling sore after you workout is not fun. Although it is often seen as a sign of a “good workout” by some in the fitness industry, the truth is that it is a low-level injury that can lead to your body feeling MUCH worse.

So, if you are wanting to avoid feeling sore, you are in the right.

Second, the things we are told that make us sore are actually not the primary culprits.

You don’t get sore because you used too much weight. You don’t get sore because you forgot to stretch after. You don’t get sore because of lactic acid.

You get sore for two primary reasons:

  1. You used too much motion when you did your exercises
  2. You used too much speed when you did your exercises

The good news is that by applying some very specific principles to your workouts, you can avoid both of these reasons and not have to feel sore or achy after you exercise, no matter how much weight you lift.

You may be reading this and having some questions come to mind, such as, “How do you avoid using too much motion when you exercise?” and, “How fast is too fast to move?”

Let’s dive in…

First, the amount of motion you use when you do ANY exercise should be completely symptom-free for you. This means there should not be any pinching, pain, discomfort, zinging feeling, or even stretching feeling when you do your exercises.

The ONLY things you should be feeling are your muscles squeezing and (eventually) fatiguing. That’s it.

Any amount of motion that has a sensation other than your muscles squeezing is an indication that you are using too much motion at that moment, which means you need to lessen the motion and only use the amount that is completely symptom-free.

Second, you should aim to be the slowest-moving person in the gym when you exercise. A lot of times the women I talk to want an exact speed they should be moving at, but it is going to be different for each exercise. 

The rule that will remain consistent for every exercise is you should be moving slow enough that you can stop at a moment’s notice. As your strength and coordination improve, you may be able to move a little faster than when you first start out, but for right now, you will likely be moving extremely slow–and that is great!

The results you get from your workouts are dependent on how much you challenge your muscles during each exercise, and moving slowly will help you challenge your muscles more than moving fast. When you move fast, you use momentum to lift the weight up and down instead of using your muscle strength, which means you are actually creating less challenge for your muscles when you move fast.

Instead, focus on moving slowly while you do each exercise and feel your muscles really squeezing throughout the entire range of motion.

These are two of our four Exercise For Life Principles that I teach my clients to use when they workout and they will help you avoid feeling achy and sore from your exercise. When you implement them correctly, you will be able to safely lift heavy weights and challenge your muscles to a high degree without risking injury or soreness.

In other words, you will be able to glean much better results from your workouts without all of the negative effects that so many women experience.

One other thing I recommend all of my clients add into their workouts is Muscle Activation Techniques®. MAT® will help all of your muscles function optimally, so when you go to workout you aren’t overloading specific muscles too much and risk injury or soreness. MAT® will also help your muscles recover faster from your workouts, so you can enter into each workout feeling strong and ready to go.

If you are in the Chicagoland area and would like to try out MAT®, you can schedule your assessment with me by clicking here.

You do not have to feel sore after you workout. You can build stronger muscles and bones without the negative effects that are often felt from lifting weights. You just need to focus on the right things when you workout, including staying within your symptom-free range of motion, moving slowly, and adding in Muscle Activation Techniques® to make sure your muscles are working properly.

If you would like guidance applying these principles into your workouts, that’s exactly what I teach you how to do in the Exercise For Life Membership. You can get 30 days access to the Membership for free when you sign up today. Just click here to get started and I can’t wait to see you there!

In strength and health,


Julie Cates

Julie Cates is an experienced, certified, and insured National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Personal Trainer and mastery level Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®) Rx Specialist (MATRx). She is one of 88 certified mastery level Resistance Training Specialists® (RTSm) in the world. This combination makes her style of training impactful and still preventative and restorative of joint and muscle issues and pain that are common with exercise. Julie specializes working with women 50 and over. Specifically, her main focus is working with women with bone density loss, muscle loss, Osteopenia, and Osteoporosis. Julie has incredible experience working with brand new exercisers. Very specific types and styles of exercises are needed for restoring and maintaining bone density, and Julie guides her clients through these in a pain-free way. She is also well experienced in helping women exercise even with various joint, bone, systemic, and neurological diagnoses. Julie is definitely your go-to personal trainer for women with Osteoporosis! Julie graduated cum laude from the University of Florida. She earned her degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology with a specialization in Exercise Physiology. Julie is the co-owner of Muscle Activation Schaumburg in Schaumburg, IL. She is a wife and mother of two. Julie can be reached via e-mail at Follow her on Instagram at @julcates!