The benefits of weightlifting don't have to be debated. A leaner, more muscular physique is often representative of a healthier lifestyle. Whether you're a seasoned bodybuilder, or a newbie to the gym, there's one thing all of us have in common, that stiff aching feeling a day or two after a touch workout. But does soreness mean your muscles are growing?
The "pain" you may feel after working out or weight training has a very specific name. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) typically begins to develop twelve to twenty four hours after the specific muscle group has been trained and can last another twelve to twenty four hours after the first discomfort begins. DOMS is different than the acute pain or discomfort you may experience DURING your workout or activity itself.
What causes delayed onset muscle soreness?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it's a rather simple concept to grasp. When you're in the gym pumping weights, or getting in an intense Crossfit workout, the more intensely you train the muscle the more likely it is to experience soreness. This is due to microscopic tears in the muscle fibers themselves as a result of the added stresses placed upon them from weight training.
Does Soreness Mean Your Muscles Are Growing?
Just because you may feel a little (or lot) soreness a day or two after your workout, that doesn't necessarily mean that your muscles are growing. DOMS is a result of a muscle group being lengthened while a force is being applied upon it. This eccentric muscle action is deomonstrated in your quadriceps (front of the leg) while running down hill, as well as the lowering phase of a biceps curl. The majority of the tension or stress that is placed on a muscle occurs during the eccentric movement of the exercise, hence the cause of the soreness.
Just because you experience muscle soreness from a gym workout or weightlifting routine, doesn't mean that the muscles themselves are growing. Instead, think of it as your muscles are repairing themselves. Those microscopic tears that occur in the muscle tissue is quickly repaired by the body assuming you're recouperating with proper rest (sleep), hydration and nutrition.
In order for a specific muscle to grow in size or mass, you need to continuously challenge the muscle with resistance (workouts) and increasing work loads. In addition, it's important to make sure with all of your exercise or fitness routines, that you're performing the exercise with proper form. Inadequate form or weightlifting with loads that you're not conditioned for can cause soreness, without the added benefit of muscle growth! Be sure to consult with a Certified Personal Trainer to be sure you're working out smarter, and not just harder!
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