Many people think of sore muscles as an indication of how hard they have worked in the gym. It’s believed that more muscle soreness means more stimulated muscle growth and faster gains.
However, what if you don’t have any muscle soreness? If your muscles are not sore does it mean you haven’t worked them hard enough?
The truth is that although sore muscles make you may feel like you have had an intense workout, it doesn’t always mean that you have worked your muscles effectively for muscle growth.
What Causes Muscle Soreness After A Workout?
When you put your muscles through an intense workout or even if you do a new exercise that you haven’t done for long time, it can lead to muscle soreness. This is know as DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) and is caused when the muscle is put under enough tension to cause mirco-tears in the muscle fibers.
As a result of these micro-tears the body mounts up an inflamatory response to help repair the damaged tissue. This process usually happens a day or two after a workout and can last for 3 days or more. The pain is the result of a build-up of fluid and swelling that puts pressure on nerves and other surrounding muscles.
Most people think of muscle soreness as a indicator of recovery, and believe that once the soreness has gone away, the damage has been repaired and the muscle has recovered.
However, sore muscles are not a good indication of exercise-induced damage. And just because the muscle feels better it doesn’t mean that all the damage has been repaired.
Why Do Some Exercises Cause More Muscle Soreness Than Others?
While changing your workout routine is one of the most common reasons for muscle soreness, some people find certain exercises or workouts can cause soreness no matter how many times they do them.
For example, exercises that involve a stretching type of movement in them such dumbbell flyes, pullovers or Romanian deadlifts are more likely to leave you feeling sore the next day, more than other exercises of the same muscle group. For me I always feel sore the day after doing Romanian deadlifts or dumbell flyes even though I have done them for years.
Muscle soreness is simply a sign that you have done something that your body wasn’t used to, or simply done an exercise that causes more soreness than other exercises.
In other words, if your muscles are not sore it doesn’t necessarily mean that your muscles are not growing. Likewise, if your muscles are sore it doesn’t mean promoted muscle growth.
What Indicates whether a Workout Was Effective For muscle Growth?
Now, if sore muscles don’t mean an effective workout for muscle growth, then what does? the answer is simple … progress.
Are you seeing results? Is the weight on the bar going up? If building muscle is your goal can you slowly see the difference in the mirror?
Your answers to these questions will determine whether your workout was effective for muscle growth. Muscle soreness is simply telling you that your body did something it wasn’t used to.
For effectiveness, simply use a workout log, a scale, a mirror, pictures, tape measure and your judgement to determine whether what you are actually doing is working or not.
All the best.