No Pain No Gain?
"I know getting sore is part of the bargain when you start working out but for some reason it doesn't seem to go away. I know I haven't pulled anything, my muscles are just plain sore the day after my workout, so sore I can't lift my arms above my head. It then starts to get better the next day.
Is this normal, and if so what can I do to help cope with this? I know I'm going to get pissed off and quit if I keep getting so sore that I can move fully the next day. Help?"
Well Charlie, first let me ask you how long have you been working out? If you are new to exercising then yes, there will be days when your body HURTS! All of those muscle fibers you have not used in years are now awake and screaming “what the hell are you doing?!!”
However if you notice any swelling (besides the pump) or bruising then STOP and make an appointment with your doctor. You might have pulled or torn a muscle or tendon. It is normal for you to experience discomfort in the muscles up to 48 hours after your workout. I find that the second day after my workout is when I feel the soreness the most.
Sounds like you are lifting at an intensity that is quite challenging for you. Which is great because to build muscle you have to lift heavy. When you lift there are two types of muscle contractions that occur: concentric and eccentric. Let’s say you are doing bicep curls. The movement that raises the dumbbell up causes concentric contraction; meaning the muscle shortens in length under stress. Lowering the dumbbell down is contracting the muscle eccentrically; the muscle is still contracted but lengthening.
There’s a theory that it is during the eccentric contraction that muscle fibers are microscopically tearing. I know: YIKES! But it sounds a whole lot worse than it actually is. In fact, those tiny tears are what you actually want. When you rest the muscle, and eat enough protein, your body repairs those torn fibers to a larger size. So, most likely you are just feeling the results of microscopic tears. Make sure to stretch the muscle when you complete your workout.
You might also be experiencing lactic acid buildup. Lactic acid is the bi-product of the cellular energy created within your body often associated with the burning feeling during exercise. Try doing a few minutes of light cardio after your workout to reduce the amount of lactic acid in your muscles.
If you still find that you are incredibly sore after each workout then reduce the intensity of your lifting. Go lighter in weights and higher in reps for a few weeks and then try increasing the intensity again. Your body should eventually become accustomed to working out and it shouldn’t feel as sore as it does now. Whatever you do, DO NOT STOP! I promise you, it will be worth all the pain you are feeling now.
Do you have a question for Bobby about how to improve your time in the gym? Send us an email.
(Photo: Getty Images)
A.C.E.- and N.A.S.M.-certified, Bobby Solorio has been personal training for over 10 years. You might recognize him from Bravo TV's "Kathy Griffin: My Life
on the D-List," where he trains his now-A-list client. For more info check out Bobby's website.