Should you be sore after every workout?


This article adresses what I have touched on on my Instagram. Namely: should you be sore after every workout? My answer is: NO!

There is a wide range of adaptations that can happen when you exercise regularly that don't need to lead to crippling muscle pain that will prevent you from going to a public bathroom (as a woman, you know what I mean). Namely: improved circulation, better skin, an increased VO2 max, more economical use of nutrients, better mood, sleep, sex, friendships, etc.

My approach to training people who I see more than once a week is to leave them with subtle structural fatigue and soreness in some areas. If we have targeted one, then we won't target it again the next time. It requires their body to think on its feet each time and doesn't allow it to "learn" my method and therefore adapt which would lead to a decreased amount of calories burned and thus the overall metabolism to not purring at the speed that we want it to. Some soreness is good, debilitating pain for days is not.

Now, if you engage in an activity that is primarily cardio-vascular auch as running, cycling, swimming even kickboxing and you are doing that several times a week, imagine if you were dead sore each day after a training. You would lose interest, motivation and over time would probably wonder why your body was still such a wuss. I would.

There is a rule in running that says that you should do most of your training at an easy pace and only spike for 20% of your weekly mileage. For marathoners that would be a track workout and a tempo run. If you continuously run your easy days or your long runs too fast, over time, you are setting yourself up for mental fatigue which will lead to less focus in your training which increases your danger of injuring yourself either acutely or through overuse. Achilles tendonitis, IT band issues, plantar fasciitis and runners knee can ensue. But I am not saying, go super easy all the time, either.

What to do? Supplement your cardio activities with strength building activities such as body-weight training, HIIT training or yoga. Mix up your routine, your surroundings and pace. Revel in the occasional soreness that propels your performance forward and then make sure to test it(!!). If you ran a hard track workout really well, use that strength in your tempo runs to run easier at a faster pace. During your easy runs, use the new power from yoga to run and pay attention to your gait, your breathing and maybe even the weather and your music (things you couldn't enjoy because you were butting heads with the voice in your head)!

Roma van der Walt after climbing South Sister, Oregon

When you approach each training session as hard, it will be hard and you will lose interest and sadly the joy in it. If you go into most of your workouts feeling like you will enjoy them, you most likely will... and might even surprise yourself. To read more on variety in training and supercompensation, go read this blog post!

As usual, share your thoughts with me, your progress, your approaches. I look forward to hearing from you!