What Is Muscle Soreness?
You usually feel a certain muscle soreness the day after your workout, this is called DOMS. Essentially you are creating small tears in the muscle tissue at a cellular level. This is what you feel in your quads after an intense leg day. And it can be so much harder to stick with the training program when you’re a beginner and sore! Developing a fitness routine is enough of a challenge on its own but imagine barely being able to turn your steering wheel to get to the gym because your muscles are so tight. In fact you could be doing everything right in your exercise regimen but if you don’t help your body’s recovery you risk injury or bringing your gains to a halt.
Do Sore Muscles Mean Growing Muscles?
The short answer is not necessarily. As I mentioned you could be perfect in the gym but what you do with the rest of your day determines how much you grow. Muscle soreness occurs naturally after a repetitive E centric movement (The bottom motion of the bicep curl or squat). Micro tears are formed on the muscle fibers in need adequate rest and proper nutrition, in order to rebuild stronger. Trust me, your muscles don’t want to go through that shit again.
Ways To Recover And Prevent Muscle Soreness
Tip 1. Don’t Skip The Warm-up
It seems obvious but I feel like so many people skip this step and I was definitely guilty of this too. Warming up is a crucial part of the fitness equation. You need to get the blood flow to the muscles before you even start working them. You might think warming up just takes extra time in the gym but it helps you perform your best without injury by loosening up those muscles. A study was done in Australia that proved warming up can reduce muscle soreness. Develop a 5-10 minute warm-up before you begin your workout. I like to walk at an incline for at least 5 minutes. Then I do a few dynamic warm up exercises (I.e. leg swings on leg day or arm circles on shoulder day).
Tip 2. Progress Gradually
It’s tempting to pick up the heaviest way you can because you’re so pumped about training. Bad idea! That’s a quick way to burn yourself out. I’ve heard too many beginners overdo it on the first training session only to never work out again. When you overtrain, your muscles have a lot more of a recovery journey. The safest way is to start with lighter weights or even body weight and progress slowly each week.
Tip 3. To Stretch Or Foam Roll?
Studies have shown that stretching doesn’t minimize muscle soreness. However, it helps to improve flexibility and increase range of motion. Both which are important for preventing injuries and doing the exercises with proper form. Foam rolling on the other hand, can be greatly beneficial to do after your workouts. This can actually help break up the tightness and reduce muscle tenderness.
Tip 4. Proper Sleep
I’m sure you know how complex our bodies are. But the real magic happens when we are asleep. Human growth hormones work on your insides like little fairies repairing and rebuilding your muscles. And they are nocturnal! HGH really floods your bloodstream when you sleep. Your muscle glycogen stores are also replenished when you get a good night’s rest. Glycogen is your body’s preferred source of fuel, which come from carbohydrates. The more glycogen you have stored in your muscles, the better chances you’ll have at gaining muscle.
Tip 5. Work Through The Pain
This might be the less popular option, but bare with me here. I definitely don’t recommend working out at a high intensity if you’re already tight. However, doing a light workout like yoga, pilates, or going for a short jog can actually help reduce the soreness. Your body also needs to get used to your training cycle. If you’re still a little sore on leg day (when you trained legs 3 days ago) it’s still a good idea to process with your program. You could train a muscle group twice a week. The first day can be heavy and the second session can be lighter. Eventually, your body will learn that it needs to recover within that time. Of course, as long as you use the previous tips mentioned.
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Peace & Love,