Maybe you just started exercising again. Maybe yesterday was leg day. Or maybe you just did crossfit for the first and last time.
Regardless, you’re sore. But you want to workout again. Should you do it?
Before I answer, we have to explore the reason for your pain.
Being sore doesn’t necessarily indicate an effective workout. So don’t assume it’s automatically a good thing.
That said, here are a couple times when being sore is almost unavoidable, and ok.
1. You’re new to working out.
If you haven’t worked out in a long time (or ever), you’re going to get sore.
I find it’s always worst 2 days after a workout. But since you’re new, don’t be surprised if you’re consistently sore the entire first week or two.
There are ways to lessen the pain a bit, which I’ll mention later. But ultimately, yes, you’re going to have to work through some soreness.
2. Starting a new program.
Once you’ve been working out awhile, a little muscle soreness or fatigue isn’t uncommon.
But it can get worse again when you switch to a new program (which shouldn’t happen more than every few months), or when introducing a new exercise on the same program.
At that point, it will take your body some time to adapt and you may be more sore than usual. It probably won’t last as long as your “newbie” soreness did, but yes, you’ll again have to work through it a bit.
These reasons for being sore fall under the category of “go ahead and skip your workout.” But it’s important to understand why.
1. You’re overdoing it.
You’re not a well conditioned collegiate athlete, so don’t train like one, especially when you’re first getting started. Spend a week just getting comfortable with your exercises and learning what weights to use.
Eventually you can work up to doing more. But even then there are many different ways to overdo it (working out too frequently, too long, too intensely, etc.)
If whatever you’re doing regularly causes you to be so sore you can barely move without pain, you’re overdoing it. You should reevaluate your program, and in the meantime you could use a little extra recovery…
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2. You haven’t recovered enough.
Recovery plays a major role in how your body feels on any given day.
An acceptable workload one day can turn into being too much if you do the same thing several days in a row without rest.
If you think you’re too sore to hit the gym, look back and ask yourself if you’ve had a chance to recover.
Sore from a big leg day? You probably need two days rest before you work your legs again.
Sore from a specific heavy exercise? You might need a full week before you do that lift again.
Workout 7 days a week and deal with constant soreness? Look into scheduling a rest day (or 3) every week into your routine.
Feeling extra sore and tired? How has your sleep been lately? If it’s been interrupted for any reason, or you aren’t getting around 7-9 hours at night, you might need some extra recovery time before your next workout.
Another good way to decrease the amount of time you spend being sore is through active recovery (like going for a walk or foam rolling.)
Don’t overdo it, especially when first starting out, and make sure you’re getting enough rest time.
If you’re so sore it’s affecting your movement, you won’t be able to workout effectively anyway. But if you’re just a little sore, you’re fine to get back in the gym.
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