Do we have to get sore to get results?


Do we have to get sore to get results?

As a Coach and athlete I was always chasing the “burn” and soreness the next day. It was all about what can I do during my workout today to get the most sore tomorrow.

I used to think it was a sign of results. But is it really?

No pain, no gain right?

Since the beginning of time the world of fitness has told us that soreness is a good thing. That the more we feel tight and busted up the next day the better our results. I remember hundreds of times being told by Coaches, mentors, magazines, and blog articles that “no pain, no gain!” or “soreness is a sign of results!” or “when you feel sore that is your body getting stronger!”

With that being said, for a long time I was always chasing just that. Bust my butt in the gym, get as sore as possible, eat, sleep, recover…….the end…… or so I thought.

What is Soreness?

Muscle soreness by definition is actually called “Muscle Damage”. During exercise we stress our muscles and the fibers begin to break down. When the muscles begin to break down this triggers what is called Muscle Protein Breakdown.

Think of this like a brick wall. When we work out we start to remove bricks on our wall.

Next up is a process called Protein synthesis. This is a process that happens in all organs. The part that we want to happen is Muscle Protein Synthesis. Muscle Protein Synthesis begins and the body begins to make proteins readily available for the body to repair the stressed locations.

Now with these things defined back to the Brick Wall Analogy. We work out, we remove bricks, our body notices, and tries to put the bricks back but bigger and better.

The goal is to break down the wall to get a bigger wall in the long run. But not to break it down so much that our body can’t put it back up fast enough or big enough.

When can extreme soreness be bad?

The reality is we can get great results without extreme soreness. It is actually better this way.

The studies on soreness currently are always evolving however it is well known that we can get growth and results without being extremely sore. Too much soreness actually cuts down on the amount of power our bodies can generate.

Which means we can’t work as hard. Which lowers the amount of volume of work we can do (reps, sets, rounds, load lifted).

Which means our time in the gym becomes a little less efficient. I don’t know about you but I would much rather make each workout count as much as possible.

Some soreness is good

The reality is some soreness is good. We want our bodies to work hard. It is always a delicate balance. To elicit a change in our body we have to stress it enough to adapt.

When our body “adapts”, that is when we get better. That is how this whole thing works. We workout to create stress (but not too much), then we eat, sleep, and recover. This is when our body says “ok he/she is working hard and doing that fitness thing. I need to make their muscles bigger and stronger so next time they do it we are prepared.” That is your adaptation to the stimulus.

Work in > Food/Sleep in > Results… if you do it right. As you can see the key to life is doing everything in moderation. Not too much, not too little, we have to do just the right amount of pretty much everything you do.

Take aways

At the end of the day, too much of anything is bad. We have to get it right. We need to make sure we are choosing to lift the proper weights. We need to make sure our intensity is right in the gym everyday. We need to know when to back off and take a day to just move versus making everyday a day to pound our bodies into oblivion.

We want to make our body work hard but not so hard we can’t walk the next day. Focus on making your nutrition and sleep a priority so that when you do happen to get overly sore your body is more easily able to recover and repaid better for the next session. If you need help with your Nutrition click here. We have Coaches that want to help!


Written by:

Cody Smith