How to Know If Your Workout Soreness Is Good Or Bad

post workout soreness

A guide to after-workout soreness

Written by Healthy Magazine Staff

A good workout means you’ll feel it the day after, right?

Yes and no. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) does mean that you taxed your muscles. And whether we like it or not, it is the only way to get significantly stronger. There is, however, a fine line between productive and counter-productive soreness.

Feeling so sore that you can’t get to gym the next day or the day after is not the kind of sore you want to be. Instead, shoot for an exertion level that allows you to “go hard” again the next day. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Moving more often or getting to the gym 3-5 days a week will be better than being really gung-ho for one day a week.

Consistency is key to any good workout regimen. We’re all familiar with those gym-goers who hit the gym really hard for a couple weeks and then begin to fade (we’ve all probably been this person once or twice). They get frustrated with a lack of results, but any devoted gym-goer knows that consistency spells results.

So, now you may be asking, “how do I know when I’m overdoing it?” Good question. Working out is an inherently goal-based activity. We’re striving for something, trying to get healthier, stronger, fitter, etc. Thus, when we work out, we should be pushing ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that we have to overdo it just to see results. Something as simple as feeling more tired halfway through your second set than you did after your first is a good indication that you’ve fatigued the muscles you’re exercising. Do any more than this and you’ll be hurting the next day.

Remember that a good warm up and cool down can greatly influence your soreness levels post-workout. Ignoring these steps will bring unnecessary pain.

Ultimately, good sore and bad sore depends on where you’re standing. If you’re trying to build muscle and make big gains in strength, then soreness is what you’re shooting for. Don’t forget that workouts should build over time, so no soreness after the gym probably means you aren’t going hard enough. But if you’re aiming to slim down and tone your muscles, soreness might make it harder to achieve your goals, especially since it might keep you from regularly going to the gym. You’ve also got to listen to your body. Make a mental note of how many sets, how much weight, etc., you do and how you feel the next day. If you’re really sore, use a lighter weight or do fewer reps next time.

Finding the right mixture of exertion and soreness is an important step in the recipe for consistency and long-term fitness success.


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