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Strength Training Myths

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Updated June 18, 2009

4 of 6

Myth 4: I should be sore after every workout.
How do you know if you've gotten a good strength training workout? A lot of people would measure their workouts by how sore they are the next day, but that isn't the best way to gauge your workout.

Soreness (often called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS)is normal if you're a beginner, if you've changed your usual routine or if you're trying new activities. But, that soreness should lessen over time and, if you're sore after every workout, you may need more recovery days or to reduce the intensity of your workouts to allow your body time to adapt and grow stronger.

Soreness is actually caused by small tears in your muscle fibers, which is how muscles respond when overloaded. Rest and recovery are essential for growing stronger and building lean muscle tissue. If you're sore after every workout, you may need more time to recover or you risk overtraining and injury.

So, if soreness doesn't work for measuring effectiveness, how do you know if you're getting a good workout?

  • Lift enough weight. When strength training, you always want to choose a weight heavy enough that you can only complete the desired number of reps. If you stop at the end of a set and realize you could do more, increase your weight so that the last rep is difficult, but not impossible to complete.
  • Work all your muscle groups. Whether you do a total body workout or a split routine, make sure you hit all your muscle groups 2-3 times each week, with at least one exercise per muscle group (more if you're more advanced).
  • Change your program. Make sure you change your routine every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus.

To prevent soreness, you should warm up before your workout and cool down and stretch the muscles you've used after the workout.

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