Different Types of Muscle Soreness Caused By Weight Training (And How To Minimize It)


Soreness is a normal part of the recovery process that starts once you finish your bodybuilding workouts.

There are several degrees of soreness that we need to be aware of:

1. Typical Mild Muscle Soreness:

The first type of soreness is the typical mild muscle soreness experienced the day after a good workout. While scientists are still unable to pinpoint the true cause of such soreness, it is generally accepted that it is caused by micro trauma caused at muscle fiber level and by an excess of lactic acid. At either rate, what’s important is the fact that this is good soreness as it is of a mild nature and muscle function is not impaired. It generally lasts a day for advanced athletes and up to 3 days for a beginner. This soreness is a good indicator that you had a good workout the day before as you created the trauma necessary to trigger adaptation (e.g. muscle growth). When you are no longer experiencing this type of soreness then that is an indication that your body has successfully adapted to the training program; something that leads to no gains unless the routine is changed once again.

2. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness:

The second type of soreness is delayed onset muscle soreness, better known as DOMS. The term DOMS refers to the deep muscular soreness usually experienced two days after the workout has been done (not the day after). This soreness prevents the full muscular contraction of the muscle. This type of more severe soreness is caused when you either embark an exercise program for the first time or when you train a body part much harder than usual. This pain can last between a couple of days for an advanced well-conditioned athlete or as much as a week for a beginner. If you are being affected by this type of soreness and it is time to workout again, I find that the best idea is not to take the day off, but instead to exercise the body part doing an Active Recovery routine. The Active Recovery Routine that I am referring to here is a routine where all of the loads are reduced by 50% and the sets are not taken to muscular failure. For example, if you are to perform an exercise for ten repetitions, divide the weight that you usually use for that exercise by two and that is the weight that you will use for that day. Also, stop executing the exercise even though you will not have reached muscular failure once you get to repetition number ten. The idea of this type of workout is to restore full movement in the muscle and to remove the lactic acid and other waste from it. Also, to force high concentrations of blood into the damaged area in order to bring the nutrients needed by the muscle for repair and growth. I have always found that doing this is always more beneficial as by the next day you will not be as sore or stiff anymore as opposed to skipping the workout in the name of recovery and waiting for the pain to subside in a week or so.

3. Injury-Type Muscle Soreness:

The third type of soreness is the one caused by injury. This soreness is entirely different in nature from the ones described above as it is usually immobilizing in nature and very sharp. Depending upon the nature of the injury, it may be experienced only when the muscle is moved in a certain way or constantly. Sometimes these injuries become apparent as soon as they happen. Other times the day after. If you become injured, the first thing that you should do is apply the RICE principle (Recovery, Ice, Compression and Elevation). After consulting a doctor, some injuries may allow you to continue training while working around the injury (in other words, finding the exercises that target the injured muscle without involving the range of motion that triggers the pain). Other more serious injuries, like a muscle tear, may involve complete rest of the injured area, and depending on the severity, it may require even surgery. Therefore, when you weight train, please leave the ego somewhere else. Do not bring it into the weight room as it may cause you to get injured and injuries not only can take you out of the gym for a while, but they always seem to haunt you long after you think that you have fully recovered. So needless to say, the best way to prevent this type of soreness is by cycling your exercise parameters and by constantly practicing good form.

There are a few techniques that one can use to manage muscle soreness from the first two types:

1. Ensure proper nutrition:

While this should be obvious, a lot of people miss the boat on this one. If you do not take the proper amount of carbohydrates (1-2 grams per pound of body weight depending on how fast your metabolism is), 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight and 20% of your total calories from good fats, your body will not have all of the nutrients that it needs in order to recover and grow (regardless of what supplements you are taking).

2. Drink your water:

While this does not look fancy, muscle is over 66% water. Therefore it is of utmost importance that you drink your water. You need your body weight x 0.66 in ounces of water on a daily basis in order to function properly. So if you weigh 200-lbs then you need 132 ounces of water per day. Less water than that and you impair your ability to flush out toxins and thus your recovery will be adversely affected.

3. Periodize your training and keep training sessions to 60 minutes maximum:

If you train heavy all of the time, this will invariably lead to overtraining and even injury. The same is true if your volume is too high. Therefore, it is important that you periodize your workouts by manipulating the volume and how heavy you train. Alternate periods of higher volume and lower weights (10-15 reps) with periods of lower volume and heavier weights (6-8 reps). In addition, in order to maintain anabolic hormone levels high, refrain from training for longer than 60 minutes (45 minute sessions being even better). After 60 minutes testosterone levels go down while cortisol levels rise. As a result, training past the 60 minute mark leads to increased cortisol levels and thus impaired recovery. (Read more about Periodization or download my periodized 21-Day Routine below)


4. Do some cardio:

Believe it or not, three to four 30 minute sessions of cardiovascular exercise a week will actually help you speed up recovery since the extra oxygen and circulation helps to flush out toxins and lactic acid out of the system. So do not neglect your cardio.

5. Alternating hot/cold showers:

Alternating cold and hot showers (30 seconds of cold water followed by 1 minute of hot water) is a great method to help flush out toxins and lactic acid. The cold water creates vasoconstriction while the hot water creates vasodillation. You can use this simple method after a hard workout. Typically, I like to do 3-5 rounds of cold and hot.

6. Massage:

Massage can help with lymph movement (a fluid that helps to remove waste from body tissues), which combined with blood helps to supply oxygen and nutrients while helping to rid the body from wastes and toxins. While ideally, the higher the frequency of training, the more often one should get a massage, a massage performed once a month will do wonders for your overall recovery.

7. Enzyme supplementation:

store_sorenzyme_bigThere is an incredible amount of research that shows certain enzymes are not only good for digestion, but they are also good for anti-inflammation and recovery. I did not really believe this until I started using an enzymatic formula that has helped to reduce the soreness and inflammation that happens after the workouts with great results. The formula’s name is Sorenzymes, and it is composed of many enzymes that have healing properties and that reduce inflammation. At first, I really did not understand how enzymes can help to recover faster but Lee Labrada set me straight on this. Lee told me that this formula is composed of enzymes that work on a systemic level and address the issue of DOMS. He said: “One of the things that we have been finding from our research is that judicious use of enzymes can actually reduce the inflammation associated with DOMS, which increases recovery and therefore increase muscle growth – it can almost double it. It’s tremendous”. I must say that after I tried the formula, I was not disappointed and thus became a believer in enzyme supplementation. Just 4 capsules taken on an empty stomach after training do the trick for me.

8. L-Glutamine supplementation:

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle cells. It is released from the muscle during times of stress (such as hard weight training workouts) and dieting. This amino acid not only has been shown to be a great anti-catabolic agent (protects the muscle from the catabolic activities of the hormone cortisol), to be a contributor to muscle cell volume, and to have immune system enhancing properties. For more information on glutamine please take a look at my article on Glutamine Basics.

9. Take Your EFA’s:

EFA supplementation has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties (amongst many other good properties). Take at least 14 grams per every 100-lbs of bodyweight. Good sources of EFAs are Fish Oils, Flax Seed Oil, and EFA Lean Gold.

10. Take your creatine:

Creatine has been shown over and over again to help improve not only in between set recovery but also recovery after a workout as well. Half a teaspoon (2.5 grams) before and after your workout will upgrade your recovery capabilities. For more information on creatine please take a look at my article on Creatine Basics.

11. Get enough sleep:

If you don’t get enough sleep your cortisol levels will go through the roof, recovery will be impaired, and your probability of getting injured and/or sick will increase. It is of utmost importance that one gets as much sleep as possible with 8 hours being optimal. For more information on the importance of sleep please take a look at my article on The Maladies Caused by Sleep Deprivation.

Now you have a few tricks up your sleeve in order to deal with soreness, start implementing these immediately so that you can go to the gym and train super hard!

Take care and train hard!





About the Author

hugoHugo Rivera is an International best selling fitness author certified in personal training and nutrition with a computer engineering degree from the University of South Florida. Hugo is owner of www.hugorivera.net, an informational, free fitness and nutrition website. He is author of over 10 fitness books (with over a million copies sold) including his best sellers: Body Re-Engineering, The Body Sculpting Bible for Men, The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, the Weight Training Diary, and the Hardgainers Handbook of Bodybuilding. Today via his website HugoRivera.net, numerous articles, book publications, TV and radio appearances Hugo continues to educate the public on how to achieve the body of their dreams via the use of weight training exercise, good nutrition and correct supplementation. You can follow Hugo via:

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Natural Bodybuilding FAQ: What To Do If You Experience A Joint Injury?

Natural Bodybuilding Question: What Should To Do If You Experience A Joint Injury?

I have lifted with that I thought was good form and also with moderate weight. Yet, my shoulders are killing me and I seem to have an injury since I cannot lift my arms past a certain point. What should I do now?

Answer: Sometimes, injuries still happen even when we do everything right. Life’s not fair sometimes. Dr. Raul Rivera (MD), my grandfather and orthopedic surgeon, taught me that what to do depends entirely upon the nature of the injury.

For Minor Injuries Use RICE

RICE is an acronym that refers to the following:

(R)est. This does not refer to laying in bed but instead stopping to do the activity that created the injury or at least stopping to do movements that cause pain. As a matter of fact in my personal experience and in my conversations with sports medicine doctors if you can continue training without pain the healing process will be faster. Keep in mind that the exercise promoted blood flow helps to deliver valuable nutrients to the damaged areas. The trick is to find exercises or angles of an exercise that allow for execution without pain. Dumbbell training is a valuable ally for training with injuries due to the versatility of the exercises that can be performed with them.

(I)ce. Using ice immediately after the injury is great for numbing the pain and reducing the swelling of the injure area. The quicker you apply this ice, the better. Apply the ice pack for 20 minutes, then remove for 20 minutes. Continue this pattern for as long as you want for 24-36 hours. For those of you who hate ice, at the very least attempt to do 20 minutes every hour for good results.

(C)ompression. Use an elastic bandage to wrap the injured area with a layer or two. You can apply the ice pack after the second layer and then continue the wrapping but make sure that you don’t wrap yourself so tight that you cut off circulation. However, make it tight enough to prevent fluid from accumulating in the injured area. This is the whole purpose of compression.

(E)levation. Get the injured area elevated above your torso. While tricky, this is something that can be done when you lay at night in bed.
Important Note: If within 24-36 hours you don’t see any improvements, and especially, if your condition worsens, please visit your doctor immediately.

If You Get An Injury That Causes Immediate Bruising Go To The Doctor Immediately

Bruising of the area with immediate swelling are signs of a serious injury; possibly in the form of a tear. Make sure that you go to the doctor immediately if this is the case!

Note: the best way to get the absolute fastest muscle gains and not get injured is to practice picture perfect form! for a GREAT programs with solid videos that teach the best exercise execution please take a look at my MI-40 review here and also find out how you can get my program Body Re-Engineering for FREE.]


Number 1 Tip To Alleviate Shoulder Pain by Rick Kaselj

So this week I decided to ask my friend and Injury Specialist Rick Kaselj, MS, author of the Fix My Shoulder Pain system what is the absolute best tip he could share with all of you to alleviate shoulder pain.

Below is his reply. Also, remember that only now you can get his full system for less than $20 and at the same time you also get my 6 Week Rapid Muscle Gain Program (valued at $29.95) which contains a day by day periodized training routine for RAPID muscle gaining and fat loss for FR E E.

(Just remember to email me your receipt at hugo@hugorivera.net and you will get your gift within 24 hours)

==> Fix My Shoulder Pain (less than $20 sale) + The 6 Week Rapid Muscle Gain Program FR E E

The Number 1 Tip To Alleviate Shoulder Pain that is going to help your banged up shoulders feel better in just minutes is called vertical hanging. If it sounds self-explanatory it’s because it is.

Here’s how to do it: Lift your arms straight overhead and take note of
how your shoulders feel. Next hang on something like you’re a kid
hanging from the monkey bars. [Read more…]

Top Injuries and What To Do About Them by Lee Labrada (Interview by Clayton South)

Lee Labrada Talks About Injuries, Preventing Them and What To Do If You Get Them
by Clayton South and Lee Labrada

Bodybuilding injuries can occur for several reasons and once they happen, they limit our ability to continue making progress.

As bodybuilders hit the gym harder than ever in order to build some serious muscle, inevitably some get injured in the attempt to get the perfect body. When this happens, what do we do? How can we avoid being sidelined or, worse, crippled, by injury? How can we continue on to achieve our goals?

In this interview, Lee Labrada shares his over three decades of professional bodybuilding expertise and knowledge, and answers these questions like no one else can.

The Interview with Lee Labrada on Injuries: [Read more…]

Joints Care for Preventing Injuries and for Pain Free Natural Bodybuilding

In this article I discuss how to take care of your joints in order to prevent injuries and to practice natural bodybuilding pain free for many years to come. [Read more…]

Natural Bodybuilding FAQ – Should You Train When You Are Feeling Tired?

Natural Bodybuilding FAQ – Should You Train When You Are Feeling Tired?

Should you perform your bodybuilding workouts when you are feeling tired? [Read more…]

10 Tips to Get The Most Out of Your Natural Bodybuilding Program Safely

In order to achieve your long term natural bodybuilding goals, one thing that we need to keep in mind is lifting safety. A recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine unfotunately shows that weight training injuries are on the rise.

Sustaining an injury is something that will set you back, sometimes for months to an end. Thus, it is of utmost importance that certain rules be followed in order to stay injury free so that you can make the fastest progress at the gym. In order to help you with this, here are my Top 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Natural Bodybuilding Program Safely. [Read more…]

How Much Water Should You Drink?

How Much Water Should You Drink?
Anthony Alayon: Author of The Fat Extinction Program

Check out this video where I discuss how much water is needed to be healthy regardless of your fitness goals!

[Read more…]

Guidelines To Ensuring A Good Night Sleep

Through articles like The Top 8 Effects and Maladies Caused by Sleep Deprivation, we have learned the value of a good night sleep. By following the guidelines below, you will ensure that you get the best sleep that you possibly can.

1. Avoid activities that involve deep concentration or high physical exertion.

These activities will increase adrenaline levels and will prevent your body and brain from achieving the state of relaxation required to achieve sleep. Therefore, try to manage your time in such a way that your deep concentration activities as well as exercise are finalized no closer than 2 hours before going to bed.

[Read more…]

The Sleep Cycle and the 8 Maladies Caused By Sleep Deprivation

The Sleep Cycle And The Four Phases Of Sleep

When we deprive ourselves of sleep, there is a delicate cycle that we disrupt. Let me now share with you that cycle:

Phase One: Phase one begins as soon as the sun sets, when the pineal gland starts to release melatonin, a hormone released in the absence of light and responsible for making us sleepy. When you lay down in your bed at this time, your muscles relax, heart rate and breathing slow down, and body temperature drops. The brain also relaxes but still remains alert. If you could look at the wave patterns being generated by the brain, you would see a change from the rapid beta waves of daytime to slower alpha waves. When the alpha waves disappear, replaced by theta waves, the sleeper has tumbled into the sensory void called stage one sleep. In this stage, the sleeper is unable to sense anything.

[Read more…]

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