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Why Do My Muscles Feel Sore After a Workout?

Simply put, we become sore after working out because during our lifts, we are actually ripping muscles. During every workout, we experience micro tears within our muscles and their surrounding tissues. Though it may sound scary, don’t worry — this is a good thing. Chemical reactions automatically take place afterwards to repair the muscles. It is with this repairing (or healing) process that muscles are built to be stronger and physically larger.

So in order to build muscle, you’re actually required to first tear the muscle, which is precisely what you’re doing while you weight train.

Fun fact: Eccentric contractions seem to cause the most muscle soreness. Eccentric contractions happen in movements where we are resisting gravity. So for example:

  • Sitting into Squats
  • Negative Pull Ups
  • Negative Rows

The amount of stress put on the body to control weight against gravity is much greater than the amount of stress required to push through an exercise. During eccentric exercises, we are also not only lengthening the muscles, but firing them up at the same time. This force of contraction while lengthening creates even more stress and can be attributed to a higher degree of soreness.


Why Don't I Feel Sore Right Away?

This is due to something called delayed onset muscle soreness. After your muscles have ripped, a chemical reaction takes place in order to repair the muscles. When this happens, the body creates inflammation and increases your pain receptors (this is your body’s way of telling you, “don’t push me too hard; I’m repairing.”


Why Do I Feel Sore Even When the Workout Didn't Feel Hard?

This is usually an indicator that, though you didn’t find the workout difficult, you were still using different muscles in different ways. Remember there are 640-850 muscles in the body (skeletal, viceral and cardiac*) so that leaves a lot of room for muscle soreness.


What Does It Mean When I Don't Get Sore Anymore?

Congrats! You’re becoming more fit! Now this doesn’t mean your workout isn’t working. It is. Instead, it may be more true to say you’ve adapted to your workout. Everything’s a fine balance.

Remember that muscle soreness is not the most ideal way to gauge whether or not your workout is progressing your fitness level, so don’t use lack of soreness as an indicator to switch your program. Instead, notice your performance level. When you start decreasing in performance, that’s when it’s time to start changing things up.

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