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Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
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Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
So right now I judge whether or not I got a good workout in by how sore I am in the days following a workout. Is soreness a good indicator of growth in the muscle and ability to do more weight/reps the next workout?

I usually only get sore in my pecs, quads, glutes, and biceps. Nothing else really gets sore and I'm worried I'm not working out these other areas hard enough or if there's another issue at hand.

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10-30-2014 01:30 AM
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Laurifer Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
Soreness is a good indicator. But if you want to recover faster, use a foam roller. You will be less sore and will be back in the gym sooner.

Do ten minutes before you lift, and another ten after. If you are worried about not hitting certain muscles because they aren't sore, figure out workouts that are more prone to targeting those areas.

What sucks is when you stop getting sore, meaning you've hit a plateau and muscle development ceases until you make significant changes to your routine. This is why preplanned workouts that promote muscle confusion are much better than doing the same types of lifts day in and day out.
10-30-2014 01:57 AM
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Benoit Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
(10-30-2014 01:30 AM)Switch Wrote:  So right now I judge whether or not I got a good workout in by how sore I am in the days following a workout. Is soreness a good indicator of growth in the muscle and ability to do more weight/reps the next workout?

No.

If I said to you "prove to me you're getting stronger", is you saying "well, my muscles hurt after a workout" going to convince anyone?


- A measuring tape and time are a good indicator of growth in the muscle.

- Increasing the weight/reps in your current workout is a good indicator of your ability to do more weight/reps the next workout.


Stop relying on unquantifiable progress indicators and go to something you can measure. Switch up your training when the numbers say you've plateaued, not because you 'feel' like you have to.

"I'd hate myself if I had that kind of attitude, if I were that weak." - Arnold
10-30-2014 05:20 AM
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Hades Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
Soreness is not a reliable indicator.

What can indicate progress is either do the same amount of work in less time, or more work in the same amount of time.

This is generally why unstructured programs like 50/20 are so effective, especially for people who are unclear on where and how to progress. It's easy. You have twenty minutes to do fifty reps of something.

Say you pick chinups, and the first time you do the workout you can do 39. Next time you can do 44.

Eventually you will hit 50 and after a few successful workouts of 50 you should consider hanging a five or ten pound weight off your belt and starting over. Or increasing the chinups to 65 and starting over. Or you can try to do 50 chinups in 18 minutes. Whatever you want your workout goal to be.
(This post was last modified: 10-30-2014 06:50 AM by Hades.)
10-30-2014 06:49 AM
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StrikeBack Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
Soreness is as reliable an indicator as sweating - i.e not at all. The dumb general population (esp women) tend to think that if they sweat a lot during a workout and get very sore afterwards, they're doing great. Usually it just means they sweat a lot and get sore, while their body composition and strength/fitness level go nowhere. This is why you see lots of fatties sitting in the sauna and doing weird useless pilates poses.

There are lots of things that cause soreness, and even sports science is only scratching the surface, not fully understanding it. Some things that cause soreness can make it a useless indicator for strength improvement or hypertrophy:

- Bad movement quality - moving poorly hurts the muscles more, but it doesn't mean you're getting better.
- Inactive / lagging muscle groups - this causes other muscle groups to pick up the slack, work too hard and get very sore, but again you're getting nowhere.
- Shock to the nervous system - if you're doing something very new and extreme, you can shock the CNS so much that you get this weird floating pain in the body (to explain it casually): one day it's here, the next day it's there with no indication that the painful area was actually overworked in anyway. In weird cases, you can work one arm really hard and the next day the *other* arm gets sore.
- The body getting too used to the stimulus: if you do something regularly enough (e.g squat everyday) your body gets used to it (like getting used to a bad smell) and you don't feel sore anymore. That doesn't mean the muscle fibers aren't damaged and getting repaired.

Rely on objective measures instead, like what you do in a real sport. Nobody says "I can run faster now because I'm more sore than usual after running". If you can lift more weights, more reps or more sets, you're getting stronger. If your DEXA scan tells you your lean body mass has increased, you're getting bigger (or use measuring tapes if you want a simpler method).

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10-31-2014 08:39 PM
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
Damn, i thought you guys were going to come in saying soreness is a good way to judge an individual workout. Never underestimate the RVF. I need to be tracking my numbers more closely it seems. Thanks all.

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11-01-2014 02:28 AM
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PHC19 Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
Soreness is an inflammatory response to stress and can be attributed to a variety of factors included but not limited to: detrained condition, dehydration, excessive stimulus, illness, etc.

It's not really an indicator of "workout effectiveness". In fact, it's a poor one because it's likely going to affect your training negatively at some point. The primary and most essential purpose of training is to titrate stress intelligently and make progressive improvements over time. If you're sore all the time, you're fucking with this process and chances are you'll likely abandon it at some point.

The most noteworthy cause of soreness is excessive eccentric contraction, which is why you occasionally encounter stories of CrossFitters suffering from Rhabdo, particularly on workouts in which high-rep BW movements (BW squat and chins being the most common) are involved.

This is why movements that incorporate concentric contraction only don't get you sore, and are actually quite an effective palliative for recovery. Pushing the prowler is a perfect example.
(This post was last modified: 11-03-2014 12:46 AM by PHC19.)
11-03-2014 12:18 AM
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civpro Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
Nope. Muscle = Caloric Surplus + Progressive Overload.
11-03-2014 12:22 AM
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PHC19 Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
(11-01-2014 02:28 AM)Switch Wrote:  Damn, i thought you guys were going to come in saying soreness is a good way to judge an individual workout. Never underestimate the RVF. I need to be tracking my numbers more closely it seems. Thanks all.

The weightlifting and fitness board is one of the WORST places to gain any consequential or helpful knowledge regarding training or nutrition. It's mostly swashbuckling rhetoric and pseudo-scientific nonsense. The other subsections are great, though.
(This post was last modified: 11-03-2014 12:25 AM by PHC19.)
11-03-2014 12:24 AM
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PHC19 Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
(11-03-2014 12:22 AM)civpro Wrote:  Nope. Muscle = Caloric Surplus + Progressive Overload.

Yes, if you mean titration of stress by "progressive overload". And training volume progressively increased over time.
(This post was last modified: 11-03-2014 12:28 AM by PHC19.)
11-03-2014 12:26 AM
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Griprip08 Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
I think most are just misinterpreting what you are trying to ask, or maybe I am.

Regardless, my only immediate indicator that I had a great workout, or gave it all I could, is how sore I am the next day. I literally have this down to the point where I know if I skip an exercise, or a set, the confirming evidence of it being a shitty workout will be the lack of soreness I feel for that specific set/area.

Quote:
Quote:Switch Wrote:
So right now I judge whether or not I got a good workout in by how sore I am in the days following a workout. Is soreness a good indicator of growth in the muscle and ability to do more weight/reps the next workout?

No.

If I said to you "prove to me you're getting stronger", is you saying "well, my muscles hurt after a workout" going to convince anyone?


- A measuring tape and time are a good indicator of growth in the muscle.

- Increasing the weight/reps in your current workout is a good indicator of your ability to do more weight/reps the next workout.


This ^. Notice he said "no" to the bold terms/phrases. Everything mentioned here is indeed the closest thing you will get to facts, however I would throw you a curve-ball and tell you that you can still use the fact that you are sore, to assure you aren't just another ape dangling from the monkey bars when you go the gym.

If I'm not sore, I didn't work hard enough (or I could have worked harder), it's that simple. In other words, if on heavy leg day you need to "wait a minute" before you attempt to walk out to your car, your doing it right. If you fuck it up all up and fast for 3 days and eat nothing but water and oxygen, you'll still be sore (for probably longer) but you'll remain 5'10" 150lbs. until you're 40.
11-05-2014 09:59 PM
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Deluge Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
(11-01-2014 02:28 AM)Switch Wrote:  Damn, i thought you guys were going to come in saying soreness is a good way to judge an individual workout. Never underestimate the RVF. I need to be tracking my numbers more closely it seems. Thanks all.

Keep a diary of your lifting sessions. I use the Google Docs app on my phone.
11-06-2014 12:26 AM
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Backarch Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
I actually think the best indicator of the effectiveness of a workout is how it makes you feel. Not if you're sore or not but did you enjoy it enough to want to repeat it and take it to another level. I was a college athlete and our strength coaches would come up with some crazy stuff... While their focus was improvement for sports performance there are still workouts they put together I pull out from time to time and do.
in the long run the motivation to keep going with a shitty training plan will take you further than being unmotivated with the perfect plan.
11-07-2014 07:49 PM
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StrikeBack Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
Quote:Regardless, my only immediate indicator that I had a great workout, or gave it all I could, is how sore I am the next day.

That's one absurd idea yet so popular.

Why can't that immediate indicator be your actual performance in that workout? More immediate than DOMS, more objective, more scientific than "how you feel".

If you just hit a squat PB, or a new vertical jump PB, would you care if you're actually not that sore the next day? Did your better performance somehow get rendered invalid because you're not sore now?

I believe most people train to feel like they've done something useful, not to actually become better. Else retarded concepts like measuring workout effectiveness by DOMS while there exists plenty of objective measurements would never enter their thoughts.

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11-08-2014 06:33 PM
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Griprip08 Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
(11-08-2014 06:33 PM)StrikeBack Wrote:  
Quote:Regardless, my only immediate indicator that I had a great workout, or gave it all I could, is how sore I am the next day.

That's one absurd idea yet so popular.

Why can't that immediate indicator be your actual performance in that workout? More immediate than DOMS, more objective, more scientific than "how you feel".

Because if you know your actual performance you don't need indicators that take a day to surface. Also, I never said this is the only way I know I did well at the gym. This compliments things like keeping track of progress and eating well, not to mention looking at your self in the mirror.

The point that's trying to be made here is, you can ascertain a great deal of information from how you feel. This is both evident during and right after your workout, and obvious affects, a day later, being the soreness.

Understand that it's a correlation, and a very strong one at that. Anyone can look at numbers and do that math week to week, but I'd rather not feel like a complete piece of shit and also take 20 years to gain 5lbs. of muscle. Listen to your body, that's the message.
(This post was last modified: 11-09-2014 05:31 AM by Griprip08.)
11-09-2014 05:31 AM
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obrero Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
A muscle becomes sore as a result of micro-tears in the individual contractile cells that result from large amounts of force being placed upon it. They tear and repair themselves after being overloaded, ex. when there is a greater amount of force placed upon it.

Eccentric movement (when your muscle lengthens under tension; think the down part of a pullup, pushup or squat) can provide much more force than concentric movement (the up part) can because obviously when you cant do anymore pushups, you will still be able to lower yourself to the ground in a controlled fashion.

Therefore, if the movement you are doing has momentum involved in the eccentric portion (a kipping pull up) that muscle is having much more force exerted upon it in the eccentric phase to slow down your momentum and change the direction of your weight than just the standard pull up would. That will make you sore.

If you deadlift and drop the bar to the floor after standing up all the way, you've only done the concentric part of the movement. This is a way to get in a lot of volume without become sore. Lowering your deadlifts slowly will make you sore without nearly as much volume.

All this said, does using the eccentric portion of a lift make you stronger or bigger than doing more volume of only a concentric movement? I doubt it.


Case study: Crossfitter vs. Guy who does regular pullups.

Crossfitter cant do nearly as many strict pullups because he practices kipping pullups, even though they make him really sore because of a huge amount momentum involved in the eccentric swing down.

Crossfitter will not be able to do a weighted pullup with as much weight because he isn't practicing the concentric part of the movement, instead relying on a huge eccentric contraction to bounce his chin back over the bar.

Soreness does not equal gains, however sometimes gains will equal soreness.
(This post was last modified: 11-09-2014 12:42 PM by obrero.)
11-09-2014 12:39 PM
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Venetia Rose Offline
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Post: #17
RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
I don't think so.Soreness is not a good indicator.
11-23-2014 11:38 PM
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Kieran Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
For me the only thing I rely on as a measure of progress is more weight on the bar or more reps with a given weight (I record everything and time rest periods to make sure I have a reliable measure).

I do however, find the feeling of soreness to be very satisfying.
11-25-2014 12:08 PM
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sixsix Offline
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RE: Is Soreness a Good Method for Judging Workout Effectiveness
If soreness was a good indicator of workout effectiveness, not eating enough food and not sleeping enough would boost your next gym performance.

1. You get more sore when you don't eat enough.
2. You get more sore when you don't sleep enough.
3. You get more sore when you drink alcohol afterwards.

4. You get most sore when you first start working out.

Yes, you do get more sore when you lift harder. But for me it's a better indication of my shitty lifestyle or having previously ignored those muscles. First time doing abs in months? Next day I can't sit up straight.

Judge your workout: Am I completely depleted after my last set (e.g. can't-talk, need-food, light-headed) this workout and am I getting stronger and stronger over time, from one workout to the next?
11-26-2014 05:12 AM
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