How sore is too sore?

Hi babe! How many times have you crushed a leg day, only to be afraid to sit down to pee for a few days? Been there, done that too many times to count! I hear clients say all the time that a workout totally destroyed them and they love it! They're sore, but it's a good sore. But is that the best way to see change? Is it really no pain no gain? How much pain is too much pain?

Short answer: "no pain no gain" is sabotaging your results in the gym. Long answer: pushing yourself to the limit with every workout taxes your body, reduces the amount of work you can put in a weeks time (5 smaller, effective workouts vs. 1-2 really hard workouts) puts you in the breakdown-recovery trap (consistently breaking down muscle tissue so much so that the body essentially forgoes muscle building in favor of recovery) AND increases the likelihood of getting sick and/or injured from constantly pushing yourself to this level.

BUT HOW? First, we need to understand how muscle building works: your body responds to your training because of the signals you're sending. The more muscle building signals you're able to send in a given week through the workouts you do, the more your body will change. This means the amount of times you work a specific area trumps destroying that body part once or twice a week. If you consistently hammer your body in the gym, it's going to prioritize recovery over muscle building, and you'll be in the breakdown - recovery trap: when your body is getting the signal to recover your muscles, but those signals are much, much louder than the muscle building signals sent by those workouts. This means you are working so hard and leaving it all at the gym but still not getting anywhere. Let's say you do a leg day on Monday. That muscle building signal is sent and received, but within 24-48 hours that signal is long gone. You're still not able to walk right by Wednesday, and the soreness finally subsided by Thursday or Friday. You are still recovering from the impact of your leg day on Monday for so long that the effect of the workout is gone by the time you recover.


Muscle soreness is not an indicator of the results you’re going to get from that workout - it’s an indicator of overtraining.


Why does overtraining matter? Overtraining is the fastest way to get you sick and injured. It is a negative consequence of training with very few days off, or not allowing for proper recovery between workouts. While you can push through and workout while you're sore for a short period of time, your body WILL make you stop by getting you sick (acutely or chronically) or injured. The more overtrained you are, the less effective your workouts become. Just give yourself a break and allow for some rest. How sore is just the right amount of sore? There isn't one easy answer here, but what I can say is that NOT being sore is NOT a sign of an ineffective workout. If you crushed your workout but didn't push yourself to any limits and didn't half-ass your workout, you're probably doing just fine. The best part? The less sore you are, the quicker and more effectively you can get back to training that muscle group and sending yet another signal to build muscle. AND you can walk down the stairs and sit to pee. It's a miracle!! What is an ideal training style? Ideally, you'll work your full body 3-5x per week with a few heavier days and a few lighter days. You'll get active during the day by focusing on NEAT (the small things you do each day: parking farther away, taking the stairs, standing vs. sitting, etc.), as well as doing interspersed workout moves during the day. Let me break that last one down for you: this plays on the frequency principle as well - if you have a body part you're really trying to boost and build, i.e. your quads, doing exercises focused on that body part during the day can be helpful, and they increase the amount of times a muscle building signal is sent to your body. So with this, maybe once an hour you'll get up and do 1 set of 15 walking lunges, or twice a day you'll get up and do 3 sets of 15 walking lunges. The more active you can be during your day, the better results you're going to get. the good news When you know what pushes muscle growth and how training works in your body, you can use that to benefit you! Based on what we've talked about today, you should know that hammering your body isn't the best, most efficient way to your goals. You can spend less time in the gym, and more time in full body exercises each week. You'll also be able to walk pretty consistently and not cry when you go down the stairs. Does it get better than that? Don't think so. xo, Corin Groustra

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