Congratulations! You have made it to the gym and you are lifting weights. Everything is going awesome. Almost everything. Every couple days your muscles are so sore you have a hard time convincing yourself you should go back to the gym.
What gives? How can you get rid of sore muscles and get excited about your workouts?
Let’s check out what’s going on. Then try the 11 tips below to get you back in the gym and excited to pump some iron.
Why do muscles get sore?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is muscle pain or discomfort that is sometimes felt after intense exercise or after exercising a body part that is used that is not used to being active. It can occur later the same day you work out or even late in the day the following your workout. You know, when you think you have escaped all traces of soreness!
DOMS is tricky tricky. Just because you don’t get sore muscles doesn’t mean you aren’t working out hard enough and if you get severe DOMS you may be working out too hard. Geesh so much stuff to keep track of.
Prime Conditions for Muscle Soreness
- New exercises/new to exercising
- New sequence of exercises
- Heavy work loads
I know you can buy a workout shirt from almost anywhere with the words Beast Mode, don’t take the meaning too literal.
Think of it more as showing up and giving it your all. Don’t go crazy and break yourself off so you can’t train the next day.
Working too hard too soon causes fatigue, muscle weakness and several days of sore muscles. You are more likely to hurt yourself than get larger and stronger muscles.
Proper training is essential to beating sore muscles.
When your training session is slightly greater than the last training session your muscles will respond positively.
Every time you switch up your exercises or change the load expect some delayed onset muscle soreness.
If you are new start with 4-6 different strength exercises. New exercises cause soreness so you are gonna be sore. Start small.
Used to working out? Only add one to two new exercises every few weeks. This will cause some soreness but it shouldn’t be anything you cant handle.
Muscles need to be taxed by adding more and more tension slowly. Your muscles will be slightly damaged each time they have to work harder. This causes them to heal and get stronger.
When a set gets too easy increase your weight by 5-10% and see how it feels. Going too hard to soon can leave you crying every time you have to use the bathroom!
If your recovery takes more than 2 to 3 days after you have gotten sore, you have bitten off more than you can chew and need to scale back. Don’t let sore muscles ruin your day!
Foam rolling can help alleviate sore muscles, pain, and stiffness.
Foam rolling is similar to deep tissue massage which means it gets to the pain triggers that are deep in your muscles.
Foam rolling can be somewhat intense and a little painful. It’s an awesome tool though. Start slowly with foam rolling and give it several chances before you decide ya or nay.
Limit Eccentric Exercises
Say what? Don’t add too many exercises per session that make you fight gravity.
When your muscle is lengthening or fighting against gravity you are more likely to get sore. So you may try to limit the amount of eccentric exercises you are doing.
For example if you are doing jumping exercises try to land softly or if you are doing box jumps; jump up on the box and step back down.
Make Time for Recovery
One of the most important parts of training is recovery. This will help you avoid being super sore and fatigued.
You will have more strength and stamina during your workouts. When you push too hard you won’t make great gains and your risk for injury goes up way higher.
The harder you train the more recovery time you will need. Forty-eight hours is a good break between strength training workouts.
For instance if you train upper body on Monday, you should be good to train lower body on Wednesday, and upper body should be good to go again by Friday.
If you circuit train, do a full body workout on Monday. Do some cardio on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then do your next full body circuit on Thursday.
Pay attention to your body, if you are still sore after waiting 48 hours wait longer. If you aren’t able to do the same exercise you did the last time with the same results or better you aren’t fully recovered.
Eat More Protein
Protein provides muscles with nutrients they need to start making repairs. So if your diet is lacking in protein make sure you are getting it in to help the rebuilding process. Check out this article all about protein powder for fat loss. For all natural proteins that are perfect for the gym check out alternatives to protein powder.
Stretching and cooling down can help with your flexibility and breaking down of lactic acid in your body. They won’t necessarily prevent DOMS but they can help you feel less stiff which helps deal with DOMS a bit better. Have a look at one of my Wednesday Workouts for a cool down routine.
I’m Hot and I’m Cold Showers
Some brave souls suggest contrast showers alternating your water between hot and cold to increase circulation will help reduce your muscle soreness. I’m not sure on this one, I tried it for all of about 5 seconds before I chickened out. If you are one of the brave, give it a go and maybe it will work for you!
Ice, Ice Baby
Applying ice to the sore area can help alleviate the pain by helping to reduce swelling. Make sure to limit your ice applications to no more than 10 minutes and don’t forget to keep a layer or two between your bare skin and the ice pack.
Heat therapy can help the muscles relax if the swelling is gone. If the muscles are still swelling heat could actually make things worse.
With heat you want your limit to be 15 to 20 minutes maximum applied to the sore muscle. Once again make sure you aren’t beating up your skin and put a layer between you and your heat source.
Care for a Rub Down?
Massage can also help relieve some muscle soreness. So it might not be a bad idea to book yourself a massage once or twice a month. Ask before booking what they recommend for you and why. It wouldn’t hurt to ask what to expect as well.
Nothing has been proven yet to completely relieve sore muscles, the above methods may however provide some temporary relief in your hours of need.
Remember just like the Tortoise and the Hare, when it comes to muscle gains and not regrets, Slow and Steady Progression Wins the Race!! Do you suffer from over training and muscle soreness? How do you remind yourself to go slow and reap the rewards? Do you have any great tips for dealing with muscle soreness? Comment below and let me know. xoxo Cynthia