Muscle Soreness – Good or Bad?

Today’s topic is Muscle Soreness.  There are two types:

  1. Acute Muscle Soreness.  Typically happens during exercise.  For example, when you are doing 20th reps of Push up, you start to feel sore.  This acute muscle soreness is caused by accumulation of metabolites and the lack of oxygen, including accumulated Lactic Acid, which decrease the pH value and cause fatigue and soreness.
  2. Another one is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).  Usually happens one day after working out and will last for several days.  This soreness is cased by the micro-damage and inflammation of your muscle tissue.  You will feel sore and pain.  This soreness will disappear several days later.  BTW, this is NOT caused by the accumulation of Lactic Acid,  but instead, muscle damage/inflammation.


Alright, Let’s discuss in detail.


#1 Acute Muscle Soreness

The soreness you experienced in the last few reps in every set is the Acute Muscle Soreness.  It will recover very soon once you stop working out.  This is a good type of soreness because it indicates that you had pushed yourself to the edge which will benefit Muscle Growth.  This type of soreness is caused by the accumulation of the Metabolites, Aka. Metabolic Stress, which is one of key factor for Muscle Growth.  So, if you will have some reps in your reservoirs, You should continue to push few reps more until you fail.


The common ways are High-Rep/High Volume Training, Drop sets, supersets.  The degree of soreness matters.  More reps and longer time under Soreness will benefit the Muscle Growth.


#2 Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Another one is DOMS.  There are several reasons for that to happen:

  1. Long time no train,  and when you first come back for training, the Soreness is huge.
  2. Sudden Increase of Training Volume.
  3. Sudden Increase of Eccentric Trainings. Eccentrics/Negatives means the part of lowering the weight. You need to slowly resist it to create more stimuli. That’s why we often said do it slow.


The happens of DOMS indicate your training is valid.  Muscle has damaged, repair and then grow bigger & stronger.  But yet, does NO DOMS means the training is wasted?  Nope.  Every muscle has different adaptive ability, and No DOMS doesn’t mean No Stimulation.  Sometimes, DOMS is quite bothering because it really hurts and disable you from training.  So under the circumstances like that, shall we continue to train?

The answer is YES!  But just train different muscle parts.  And avoid training the sore muscle parts because muscle growth and repair take time.  You should train the parts that are fresh.  That’s why we often do Body-part split.  Different muscle part for a day.  Meaning every muscle part has several days to recover.  And yet, sometimes the soreness is too huge that cannot ignored.  Then what’s is our solution for that?



Apart from taking Rest, Stretching, Massage, The best ways is to do Active Recovery.  What does it mean?  It means you have to move more.  Better with Low Intensity Cardio.  More movement will facilitate the blood circulation.  Faster Blood Circulation will help you recover faster.


Some people will misunderstand and think that Rest = Doing NOTHING/ Just Siting/Lying.  So-called.  Nope.  This type of Rest will slow you down instead.  Staying Sedentary will slow down the blood circulation and metabolic rate.  Instead, more movement and exercises like Low Intensity Training or Train different muscle parts will boost your heart rate, blood circulation and body recovery.  When DOMS is almost gone,  It is about time for the training session.


Here is some information for your reference.

  • DOMS of Leg Day is most intense,  so you need longer time & rest.
  • Shorter time & rest is needed for Chest/Back/Arm,
  • Or even less for Side/Rear Deltoid.

Note that the most intense DOMS  Will happen when you first come back for training.  The soreness and pain will disable you for a few days.  But it will get better next time.


One last word,  Typically Muscle Soreness is beneficial.  But Muscle Strain/Tear is not.   It is actual Injury requires longer time for recovery and heal.  Besides, Joint Pain is also bad too.  They are usually injuries and inflammation.  So everyone should be cautioned about your shoulder joint/wrist/knee etc.  Injuries in tendons/ligaments will takes longer time to heal and recover.  So everyone should take care of your own body.


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