Have you experienced DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) ?
Most guys out there love to feel sore after a workout. Well this might shock you but we don’t like it at all. We see it as an annoyance and a symptom of training that we’d rather avoid as much as possible.
If you aren’t sure what the hell Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS is – it’s that soreness you get in your muscles usually the day after training. For some people this soreness can last as much as 7 days!
Leg day in particular tends to lead to some pretty bad DOMS. It makes it hard to get out of your chair and makes it look like you are in pain just from walking across a room.
If you have DOMS in your glutes going to the bathroom can be particularly unpleasant. Today we are going to dive into just what DOMS is, what causes it and how to prevent it from happening to you.
All You Need to Know About Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
My Friend Told me DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is the Sign of a Good Workout
Your friend is wrong. A lot of guys seem to think this and it’s probably why they get so excited when they experience DOMS despite the fact that it is not pleasant to deal with. They think it means their muscles are growing and that they will be stronger in the following workout.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, DOMS has literally no correlation with how good of a workout you got and how much you are growing.
Studies have demonstrated that feeling sore after a workout doesn’t necessarily mean you are growing.
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Similarly, other studies have shown that you can get way bigger and stronger without every getting DOMS. Just like when you get a pump while working out, it doesn’t mean good things are happening – even if we think it should.
So now that we know there are no positive consequences of DOMS let’s go into some of the negatives. First of all, if you are sore for days you can miss your next workout, possibly more than one. After all if you are sore you won’t be able to lift effectively.
Second it can make you less likely to want to go to the gym if you know that you are going to be sore for days afterwards. For those who choose to power through DOMS and go to the gym you face an increased chance of injury if you are compensating for weak muscles with lousy form.
Finally it sucks constantly being sore throughout the body – it interferes with your day to day life outside of the gym.
Why Do I Get DOMS?
The short answer is – we don’t know. Studies still haven’t been able to confirm conclusively what exactly is responsible for DOMS. The original theory was that it had something to do with lactic acid levels building up in the muscles.
However studies have shown that these levels return to normal within an hour of training – therefore they can’t be responsible for 48 hours of soreness.
The prevailing wisdom of the day is that DOMS is caused by microtrauma which is just science-talk for damage done to muscle fibers at a very small level. Also, the damage tends to occur when you are lowering the weights down (or the eccentric phase).
Therefore if you are training with forced negatives you are likely to experience DOMS. Finally, you are most likely to experience DOMS when you are training your muscle in a new way. Therefore you are most likely to feel DOMS when you first start training or when you come back from an extended break.
As a result, those who are in and out of a given training routine tend to experience DOMS whenever they do decide to show up to the gym. However, after consistent training it happens less and less.
How to Prevent DOMS
So now that we’ve (hopefully) convinced you that DOMS does not equal gains we will give you some tips on how to prevent it so you can, well, enjoy your life.
First of all, a lot of guys tend to get DOMS in muscle groups they don’t train frequently. Legs in particular are everyone’s favorite muscle group to skip. As a result when you do finally train legs you are going to set yourself up for a high likelihood of experiencing DOMS.
Now you obviously shouldn’t be skipping leg day, DOMS aside, but hopefully this helps reinforce that message.
Also, just because taking time off will likely cause DOMS when you get back doesn’t mean you should avoid it altogether. Taking some time off to let an injury recover or to deload is still advantageous in the long run.
One great way to prevent soreness is to perform some active recovery following your workout. Try doing some moderate cardio that targets the muscle group you just worked for a few minutes at the end of your training session. Going on the exercise bike after a leg workout for example will help reduce DOMS in the quads and hamstrings.
You also want to make sure you are getting plenty of water throughout the day so that you are well hydrated as this tend to reduce DOMS. Finally, massage and foam rolling are great ways to reduce soreness in muscles you just worked out.
What to do When you Have DOMS
So you got DOMS – don’t worry it’s not the end of the world. Don’t bother with taking an ice bath or any of that nonsense as it doesn’t make a difference – don’t put yourself through it. Foam rolling at this point also won’t help much since the soreness has already set in.
Therefore what you want to do is give you body everything it needs in order to recover quickly. Things like getting enough sleep, consuming a high quality diet and staying well hydrated will all help speed up the process. A trip to the sauna or a hot bath have also been shown to help improve blood flow to the area.
Make sure that your testosterone levels are in check. The reason pro bodybuilders who are taking in steroids can train at such intensity day after day is that they have superior testosterone levels in their body. We aren’t recommending dangerous steroid injections which come with dangerous side effects.
However, make sure you are doing anything you can to keep your testosterone levels as high as possible.
You can do that by:
- sleeping more
- consuming more saturated fats
- lifting heavy weights
- focusing on compound exercises like (deadlifts, squat, bench press)
- and taking testosterone boosting supplements that naturally increase the testosterone production in the body.
Just make sure you are using a product that uses high-quality ingredients that are scientifically proven to boost t-levels because there are many supplements out there that contain ineffective and outdated ingredients.
Hopefully this article enlightened you on just what DOMS is and, more importantly, that is not necessarily an indicator of progress.
With that said you should be looking at ways to limit DOMS (while still working hard in the gym) so that it doesn’t impact your future workouts and overall lifestyle.
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