Friday, April 3, 2009

"Stimulate, Don't Annihilate"

I was watching a 'boot camp workout' video from a local gym the other day and in it, the trainer was yelling "I am going to make you sore!" Really? Is that what the client is paying this trainer to do?

For most people, it is not hard to make them sore. Just have them do something they haven't done before and make them keep doing it. You could do crunches, lunges, or even just mulch the yard and you will get sore. But, are you really accomplishing anything? Are you enhancing your health and performance? Most of the bodybuilding and fitness world would have you believe that soreness is good and it should be your goal.

I disagree. The goal of your training should be to stimulate your body to improve, not annihilate it . Muscle soreness is just a sign that the training stress was more than the body was used to experiencing (which may be necessary to overload your muscles). It may be a by-product of a good training program, but should not be the goal. Muscle soreness, which is due to inflammation, does nothing to help you achieve your health and performance goals.
In fact, you want to do everything you can to minimize inflammation and maximize recovery (this means adequate sleep, good nutrition, a well planned training program, maintaining flexibility, foam rolling, and periodically changing movement patterns). The goal of your training should be to improve your health and performance with appropriate training, while managing/minimizing the cumulative stress placed on it.
If your goal is to improve your body composition, then you must be consuming an appropriate diet. If you expect to see a dramatic change in your body through just exercise (especially repetitive motion, i.e. running), then there is a good chance you will experience muscle and joint soreness before you reach your body composition goals. This is especially true if you are just starting a fat-loss program.

Training is a long-term process. We are all biological systems and need exercise training to improve, but we can only handle so much stress. Use muscle soreness as a guide to adjust your training. Muscle soreness may be impossible to avoid entirely, but remember, training should stimulate, not annihilate your body.


Janet said...

I agree...I got sore just learning to carry around Ally so much. I am used to it now and have developed that strength. When you feel that that what releases a chemical that makes you feel good? You know after you have a good workout you may feel sore, but you feel good too.

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Actually, there are two separate things going on. There are many theories to why you feel good, one common one includes the release of endorphins (pain killing substances, like morphine). The soreness is from actual damage to the muscles from using them to a greater extent than they are used to being used. The soreness sets in 24-36 hours later (termed delayed onset muscle soreness) as white blood cells and inflammation set in.

So, you can feel good after a workout and not experience the delayed onset muscle pain if you start off easy and gradually build up with regular training.

Janet said...

I am a regular trainer..haha

Anderson said...

muscle soroness, are a result of acid latic, anaerobic training, simple

stimulate you muscles with heavy load, not with sets

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...


Delayed on-set muscle soreness is actually the immune response/inflammation repairing muscles that have been worked hard. You can get sore from any type of training (ie.heavy single reps, sprints, super slow training, etc.). The bottom line is that you are training to improve performance. You may get some soreness as a by-product, but the soreness should not be used as a gauge of the effectiveness of the training. Again, your performance (numbers) will tell you if the training is working.