Weight Training

Soreness Does Not Equal Results

If you are reading this then you have experienced soreness at some point and time after a hard workout. Do you remember those times when your legs were so sore that you made a stink face getting out of the car? Or when it was hard to sit in a chair? What about the time your arms hurt so bad that doing anything to your hair was just pure agony? 

This soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you’ve been exercising long enough, you’ve probably felt it. Some lifters relish this pain as an indicator of success, but is that really true?

What is DOMS?

DOMS happens to me after a hard leg day. It can also occur in experienced lifters when they are getting back in the groove after taking a few weeks off. Research shows that it’s not restricted to any particular muscle group, but some people tend to experience it more in certain muscles.

Technically speaking, DOMS is pretty much a muscle strain. It's nothing too serious but it happens as a result of movements you perform that your body is unaccustomed to. As you may have experienced, DOMS can range from slight muscle discomfort to severe pain that limits range of motion. Generally, muscle soreness becomes noticeable ~8 hours post-workout and peaks 48-72 hours later, although the exact time course can vary.

One thing that I do want to make clear is that muscle soreness is not directly correlated to exercise-induced muscle damage. It is possible for severe DOMS to develop with little or no indication of muscle damage, and for severe damage to occur without DOMS. You need exercise-induced muscle damage to occur for your muscle fibers to hypertrophy or grow. 

Some studies show the presence of DOMS after long-distance running, which indicates it doesn’t just occur during resistance training. This should be an indicator that DOMS isn’t a good gauge of muscle growth since running causes minimal hypertrophy in your muscles.

People who are new to working out often have the most pronounced DOMS. This is due to the new stimulus that exercise provides. Again, they get sore because they aren’t accustomed to exercising, not because they are growing like monsters. 

I don't like being sore. It hinders my performance and can negatively affect my lifestyle. When you are sore you want to move less in general. Because you know that every time you have to move will suck. There is some scientific evidence to show DOMS may negatively affect workouts by altering motor patterns in later workouts. This could cause reduced activation of the desired muscle. Hence, DOMS could actually hinder your next workout. 

Exercising while having DOMS does not seem to make muscle damage worse, but it may interfere with the recovery process. 

The “No pain, No gain” theory is wrong! At least when it comes to muscle growth. 

Soreness can provide some insight, but don’t use it as a marker for a good workout. High levels of soreness show that you have exceeded the capacity for the muscle to undergo repair. Soreness can alter the ability to train safely, and it may decrease motivation. DOMS is the main cause of reduced exercise performance. This includes decreased muscle strength and range of motion for both athletes and non-athletes. 

So be careful next time you think it is a good idea to push it to your maximum potential just because you think being sore is a great notion. 

Your P.E. teacher lied to you. 

No More Training For Weight Loss

Why did you start exercising?

Why did you join a gym?

Many people who join gyms and want to improve their body composition and physical appearance automatically start training for fat loss. This may mean that they do a lot of cardio or circuit training and the focus is solely on fat loss and nothing else.

This is especially the case with women. Most women believe that if the scale doesn’t move then the program isn’t working. 

In my experience these women would be much better off if they focused on improving their performance and building muscle.

Women's fitness has progressed in my eyes. I believe that women are out of the lifting weights will make me big and bulky phenomenon. If you still believe that then let me be the first to tell you, it is absolutely not true. Building a few pounds of muscle will:
1. Increase your metabolism.
2. Allow you to burn more fat. and
3. Give you the desired lean, athletic, “toned” look.

I have trained so many women who even gain a few pounds of muscle without realizing it. The result will be that the scale weight may stay the same or even be a little higher. All they knew is that they looked and felt better.

If more women would just focus on improving their performance in the gym instead of always focusing on losing fat and weight, they would get far better results.

So what can you do differently?

When you workout be intentional about doing better than you did the previous time you exercised. Don’t get caught up in the trap of doing the same weights with the same reps all the time. For example, increase the weight you use for each exercise, or perform more repetitions with the same weight. Don’t worry about how many calories you’re burning or working out so hard that you have to get on all fours and crawl out of the gym in a pool of sweat, blood and tears. That is unnecessary and a lot of times can be counterproductive.

Increasing your performance can be fun, challenging and very rewarding.

To prove my point, take this into consideration. My best friend Rachel was 160 pounds when she decided to start weight training. She battled with her weight her entire life. Rachel has two young boys at home, Brantley and Carter, who are very active with school activities and sports. Her husband Bryan is one of my best friends too and loves to travel and scuba dive. If she was going to keep up with her busy family she needed to be strong, and have great muscular endurance. I told her that we would have to build from the ground up. She was all for it and said that she understood why we needed to be intentional about improving her performance.

Her body fat percentage was around 36-38% and she ate around 1100 calories. She really never had any formal instruction on lifting weights and she didn't know how to eat for performance. Her first month we did nothing but body weight exercises and her workouts typically didn’t last longer than 30 minutes. I would have her video some of her exercises and I would send back pointers so the next time she would perform the exercises with better execution. After a few months we progressed to lifting weights. She wasn't extremely strong and didn't know her way around a weight room so we kept things simple. Our goal was to increase the amount of reps over time with the same type of movement. She nailed it. Rachel has been extremely consistent in the weight room for almost a year now. She lifts upper body twice a week and lower body twice a week and does very minimal cardio. Every week we attempt to improve on what she did the week prior in some form or fashion. Rachel now eats around 1800 calories, lifts weights 4-5 times per week, has a body fat percentage 26-27%, and weighs 137-139. 

So if you want to lose weight and change your body, then stop training for weight loss and focus on improving your performance. You’ll get better results and actually have fun doing it.