Q: I get sore muscles after almost every workout, and then I’m still sore the next time I go to the gym. Is it bad to train a muscle when it’s still sore?
A: Scientists believe that sore muscles are caused by micro-tears in the fibers. In other words, it’s damage. Training a muscle hard while it’s still sore is like scratching the scab off of a wound before it’s completely healed. It impairs the healing process and can cause damage that retards proper recovery.
However, note that we said training a muscle “hard.” Studies have shown that moderate pump-style workouts when a muscle is sore, training that doesn’t do more damage but instead pushes nutrient-rich blood into the muscle, is beneficial to healing and recovery. It also helps replenish glycogen stores for more size.
You’ve no doubt heard of our heavy/light training tactics—a heavy, intense workout for a muscle followed a few days later by a lighter, subfailure pumping session. If you’re prone to chronic soreness, we highly recommend a heavy/light training protocol. You’ll get muscle-fiber trauma at one workout; then three days later you’ll speed the healing and growth process with higher-rep subfailure sets that engorge the recovering muscle. Seeing and feeling a big pump is very motivational as well.
[Note: For more on heavy/light routines, including traumatic/nontraumatic, see the Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload e-book. The Fascia-Expansion Workout in the X-Rep Update #1 is also a heavy/light program.]
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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