What does it mean if my muscles aren't sore after a workout? I get asked this question a lot and I don’t believe that post-workout soreness should be used as an indicator of a good workout.
This is what you need to know...
What is post-workout muscle soreness and what causes it?
When we exercise, our muscles are continually contracting (shortening) and extending (lengthening). When a muscle is lengthened a little more than it's used to, for example by lifting a heavier weight, then it can experience small tears (micro tears). This can cause dull, achy pain and stiffness in your muscles 12-72 hours later (otherwise known as DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
During a new exercise program, post-workout muscle soreness might occur quite often for the first few weeks because the muscles are being used in a new way and are learning to adapt.
What does it mean if you don't get sore after a workout?
After doing the same exercises or exercise program for a while, you may find the frequency (how often it happens) and severity (how ‘bad’ it is) of post-workout soreness is reduced. This is because your body has adapted to the style of training and has become fitter and stronger!
Having a consistent workout routine is likely to lead to you only feeling sore when you do a new exercise that forces you to work your muscles in a different way. Or maybe when you do a targeted workout that requires you to work the same muscles (or muscle groups), such as your arms, over and over.
Although DOM's might make you feel like you've had a great workout, you must remember that not being sore in the following days doesn't render your workout as time wasted or useless.
If post-workout soreness isn’t the only indication of a good workout, then what is?
So if I'm not experiencing DOM's, how do I still know if I'm making progress with my workouts?
- Is your workout routine is making you fitter?
- Can you do more reps or lift heavier weights than when you started?
- Is your body more toned?
- Are you able to push through a tough workout better than you used to?
- Do you leave your workouts feeling like you’ve given it your all?
If you answered yes to most of the above, then it is likely that your workout routine is still working for you and your body, even if you’re not experiencing DOM's.
Have a good week.