Why Muscle Soreness Isn’t Always a Good Sign
We’re all guilty of it. We crave the crippling soreness that’s associated with a tough workout from the day before. It leaves us feeling like we’ve accomplished something. A certain badge of honor that we wear proudly. But is soreness really a good thing? Believe it or not, muscular soreness is not indicative of a “great workout”. In fact, the opposite is most often true.
How sore are you?
If your body is so sore you have trouble walking the next day, then either one of two things has happened. Either you’re really out of shape and performed a bunch of exercises you haven’t done in a while, or you worked out at an intensity too extreme for your body to recover from. And that’s exactly what it comes down to; recovery. Regardless of what your goal is, our success is limited by our body’s ability to recover from each workout.
Want to lose weight? How well you recover impacts your resting metabolism and how effectively your body burns calories at rest.
Want to add muscle? Your tissues can’t grow unless they recover and repair.
Want to improve athletic performance? Without proper recovery, you’re pulling from a well that will soon run dry.
Some soreness is fine and totally expected. However, the more trained the individual, the less likely they will experience muscular soreness following a workout. Again, every once in a while a new exercise can trigger the response. But generally speaking, if you’re really sore the following day, then you’ve failed at one of the following:
- Choose the right workout intensity
- Supply your body with the right nutrition
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
Choose the Right Workout Intensity
A general rule of thumb for exercise volume is that no workout should last longer than 75 minutes. Working out an longer than this puts our body in a “stress debt” that becomes increasingly more difficult to repay. There is a bell curve of exercise duration and return on investment. More isn’t always better. See below
Another rule we like to follow is that no individual should sustain more than 4 intense workouts within a one week period. The more intense the workout, the longer is takes for our body to fully recover. For most people, 2-3 intense workouts is completely sufficient. The stress debt bell curve can be applied to exercise intensity as well.
Supply Your Body with the Right Nutrition
Having the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, and fats are essential in order for your body to recovery optimally. Without proper workout nutrition, our tissues don’t receive the proper nutrients they need to repair. Without recovery, we not only miss our on all the benefits from the previous workout, we lack the ability to push our body to the necessary intensity on the subsequent workout bout.
Check out this Workout Nutrition Infographic to better understand what proper workout nutrition looks like.
Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep
Sleep is often the most overlooked and undervalued aspect of fitness success. The majority of our progress happens while we sleep. Without proper sleep, our body fails to repair tissues and regulate hormones appropriately.
Check out this Power of Sleep Infographic to grab some helpful tips on how to improve the quality of your sleep for better recovery.