Does Soreness Mean Muscle Growth?
I don’t know about you, but I love waking up with sore muscles the day after a grueling workout. It makes me feel like I actually did enough work during my training session. Muscle soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) usually occurs 24 to 48 hours after your workout session. Some of you might hate it, especially after a hard leg workout session that leaves you crawling up the stairs the next day.
I have been using muscle soreness for years as a gauge to whether or not I’ve had a successful workout and if I do wake up and I’m not sore, I feel like I did not work out hard enough. Does this sound familiar to you? Well a lot of my friends are in the same boat. They use muscle soreness as an indicator of whether or not their muscle fibers were torn up during the workout. The reason behind this is that with muscle soreness, your muscles will always be built up stronger and bigger providing that you feed your body with essential nutrients, enough calories, etc. Or so they assume. Is muscle soreness an accurate indicator that you have pushed your body to the point where fibers are torn enough that they will repair bigger and stronger? Does soreness mean muscle growth?
Well to give you an honest answer, nobody is 100% sure what causes muscle soreness. There is some research that says that soreness is related to connective tissue damage and not even the muscle tissue itself. Over the years I’ve learned that muscle soreness does not mean anything in terms of a successful training session. Though I was correct about soreness being an indicator of a good workout, it does not always mean that muscle growth is stimulated. There are tons of daily activities that are not in any way related to bodybuilding, such as carrying heavy objects, running, being bent over for long periods of time and countless other activities that will cause you to be sore the next day. Heck, you can even get up right now and do 50 burpees and mountain climbers and wake up sore. That does not mean you’re going to gain any muscle from it.
In addition to all of that, there are many other things that will influence how sore the muscle is the next day. This includes training experience, how you warmed up, if you performed a cool down stretch or not, proper supplementation, rest, etc. There are too many factors to list.
So to sum it up, muscle soreness is should not be used as an indicator of a successful muscle building workout. It means that some damage has been done to the muscle tissue, but it will not 100% result in new muscle formation and strength.