Is being really sore after a workout bad or good?

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “no pain, no gain” and maybe even used it a time or two. How much truth is in this and can you make muscle gains without muscle soreness?

What is muscle soreness?

We have all been there, had a great workout and then woke up the next day and did not want to get out of bed. Muscle soreness kicked in, better known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. This type of soreness is usually six to eight hours post training and peaks at 24-48 hours post workout. You are most likely to experience this with new activities or increased intensity or volume.

But what exactly does this mean?

Being sore does not mean you had a great workout or you need to be sore in order to see strength gains or build muscle. If you take time to gradually build your workouts, while adding small amounts of weight and intensity, then the likelihood of experiencing muscle soreness decreases. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) states that the cause of DOMS is complex and is a side effect of the repair process from microscopic damage to the muscle. No worries though, this is a normal restorative process and enables greater performance the next time.


While being sore isn’t a gauge for your gym success, being overly sore can be a sign from your body that you overloaded it and need to wait a few extra days before working that body part again. Working the same body part too soon can lead to injuries, overtraining, and eventual burn out.

Being sore is both ok and natural, while the same is true for not being sore. If you perform many eccentric moves, think the downward motion on a bicep curl, it is lengthening your muscles while contracting them that can cause more DOMS than the concentric moves.

Learn to build and adapt

Your workout style and level of intensity will ultimately dictate how your body responds to new stimuli. Giving yourself plenty of time to build and adapt to new workouts will also help prevent the dreaded DOMS while still being able to make the changes you want. So remember that just because you are not sore from a workout does not mean you are not benefiting from it!

However, if you are like me you will continually push your body until you know you will be sore. I love to watch the numbers of my sets or weights I am using to continually increase. Sometimes I do push too hard and struggle to walk for a few days but it’s times like this I lean on myHMB to aid in my recovery process. I prefer to overload slightly and then rely on my nutrition to bolster repair. However, I do give myself some deload weeks where I lift lighter and know I’m still making strength gains even though I am not sore!


Fitness Model & CPA Philita Wheeler doing bicep curls

Philita Scholz

Philita Scholz’s obsession began with running.  After realizing running 50-60 miles a week was no longer a challenge for her she tried out bodybuilding and even qualified for the Arnold Classic Amateur Figure Championships.  Philita is a very focused entrepreneur helping people in the financial, health & wellness, and education arenas.


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