In a word – No.

I’ve had so many people/clients discuss with me how if they don’t feel sore then they feel the workouts aren’t effective and they aren’t working hard enough. I’ve also had to explain many times that if you maintain this mindset you are not doing yourselves any favours.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the result of ‘new’ exercise and is dictated by type, intensity, and duration of training. What this means is that anything different will make you sore – new exercises, different rep ranges, different workout frequencies, heavier/lighter weights etc. Ever started a new training program and for the next couple of days feel like you’ve been beaten all over with a sock full of oranges, so there are no bruises? Yeah, that’s DOMS.

Muscle confusion is a buzzword that doesn’t really mean much. Muscles don’t get confused. They don’t think. They respond to stimulus and the mechanisms to adaption are pretty well understood. It’s possible that the same things that make you sore also signal the body to build more muscle but powerful mechanisms exist in the body in the absence of soreness. Muscle gain is something everyone should be aiming for, regardless of gender and age. Muscle is healthy and it’s damn hard to build.

You will get stronger, look better, and function better in the absence of soreness. You can also train more frequently and be less miserable.

The three primary mechanisms for hypertrophy (muscle gain) are:

1. mechanical stress,
2. metabolic stress,
3. muscle damage.

All of these occur in the absence of soreness. Making you sore is not the purpose for training; developing robust health, fitness and energy is. Reducing your bodyfat and improving your self image and confidence is. Making the muscles grow/get stronger is. Even if you’re looking to lose fat or inches the added muscle will help speed up the process.

So as my client, yes: I will see how you’re feeling and want to know if you’re sore. But I won’t pump my fist in jubilation when you tell me you can’t feel your legs or how you were walking like you’d shit yourself for 3 days.

Soreness tells me how you’re adapting to the workouts and how well your recovery mechanisms are working. It allows me to adapt the training as I learn how your body functions (yes, it’s different than mine). If you continue to get sore, something is awry. And my aim is to fix it.

You will get stronger, look better, and function better in the absence of soreness. You can also train more frequently and be less miserable.

If you have a coach/trainer who pats you on the back when you puke into your top pocket, you need a new coach. It’s a clear indicator that they haven’t considered you as an individual.

I’ll save my fist pumps for when you take control of your health and body for the first time ever, not when you suffer.

Take home points:

• Soreness is a result of changes in exercise, not an indicator of progress.
• Soreness means you’ve provided an adequate stimulus for the body to adapt to.
• The majority of progress is made when not sore.
• Don’t aim to be sore all the time, aim to progress in your training – more reps, more weight, more sets etc.

If you’re not sure if what you’re currently doing is going to help achieve your goal then drop me a message via email or ay of my social media channels. I’ll do my best to help you!