2000-07-01 / Columnists

Fitness Forum….

Ask A Personal Trainer

QUESTION

Dear Shaun,

I started lifting weights a few months ago, and I’m looking and feeling much better. I don’t however get sore from my workouts. My friend says its because I’m not working out hard enough. Is that true?

Derik

ANSWER

Derik,

Let me first say that this question is for those of us who already have had the pleasure of lifting weights. If you haven’t begun to work out yet, one day this will pertain to you. For now, just casually skim through the column, or if you want, glance at my picture and feel fortunate that you may not be in great shape but at least you’ve found someone more un-photogenic than yourself.

Okay, now that I got my joke in, I can answer your question. But first, I just want to briefly explain what muscle soreness is, so everyone understands. The type of soreness that you’re asking about is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which is an uncomfortable and often "jokeable" pain in your muscles that usually appears a day or two after your workout is over. Unfortunately, it’s a topic with somewhat of a gray area to it, whereas there are a lot of different theories about what causes it, but no one fully understands why. With that being said, I’m going to bless you with my own personal theory about this matter, and like any philosopher who believes in his own theory…I’m right!

People generally get sore when they first begin strength training because their muscles are not use to being worked so hard. The more you work out, the more your muscles get use to working hard, and the less you get sore. Now like I said, different people have different views about what actually causes this soreness, and I’m not going to bore you with their theories. I’ll just bore you with my own.

Speaking only from experience, I have found that the more efficient your workout, the more soreness you will experience in the days to come. Efficient means performing the exercise correctly in order to isolate the muscle you’re attempting to strengthen. You may be working out hard enough, but you may not be performing the exercises correctly, which is why you may not have experienced soreness.

So you see, Derik, as a beginner your focus should be geared toward proper technique, not whether or not you’re getting sore. This may sound like a plug (it isn’t), but the best way to learn how to do the exercises correctly is to hire a good personal trainer. It’s worth the investment, believe me. Then when you’re unable to move, you’ll wish that you never wrote in with this question. Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. Okay, use my advice, good luck with it and I’ll see you at the gym, and most definitely on the beach.

Shaun


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