Whether you are just new to working out or have been working out for some time, you are probably familiar with that sore muscle pain you get the day after a good session at the gym. Sometimes it’s so bad you can barely get out of bed and you have to beg people not to make you laugh throughout the day.
Is It a Good Idea to Workout with Sore Muscles?
The good news is, if you are feeling some pain than you are in line for some gain. That’s because muscle pain is a sure sign you have challenged your muscles and they are going to adapt by making themselves bigger and stronger.
You may be tempted to sit back and relax until the storm is over before hitting the gym again, but it turns out that in most cases, this is really not the best thing do.
Exercise Your Way to Faster Recovery
Now while it’s true it’s not a good idea to blast your sore muscles by working out with the exact same routine that got you to this point in the first place, it is actually more beneficial for their recovery if they are exercised as opposed to just completely rested. This is commonly referred to as ‘active recovery’.
Exercising sore muscles will help get them the oxygen and nutrients that they need for repair, much faster than lying in bed or sitting on the couch all day.
This is because oxygen and nutrients are delivered through the blood stream and muscles require increased blood flow when exercised, in order to support the extra demand placed on them.
It’s a two-way street, so getting the blood pumping will also help remove all the toxins from the damaged muscle.
4 Tips to Help with Working Out with Sore Muscles
Warm up First
This is key and should be done before you attempt anything else. Muscle soreness is nearly always accompanied with muscle stiffness and so you need to warm everything up before you even think of working it out.
Fail to do this and you put yourself at a high risk of injury. Aim for 10 mins on the stationary bike or maybe a fast walk with a slight incline on the treadmill.
Stretch it Out
Once you are nice and warm, it’s time to stretch it all out. Most people hate stretching and see it as a waste of time (it is a waste if you are not warmed up), but it really is crucial if you are planning to work out sore muscles (you are planning to, you have read this far).
Now stretching is not going to magically make your muscle soreness go away, but like the warming up, it is going to help with your muscle stiffness and getting your full range of motion back.
With less stiffness and more range of motion, you are going to have a far more effective workout.
Tone Down the Intensity and Volume
Now that you are all ready to go, how hard you are going to push yourself and for how long? The short answer is: Not too hard! But let’s look at the specifics.
Basically you are going to want to aim for an intensity level of about 60% of what you would normally do. For example, if you normally bench press 100 lbs, only do 60lbs.
In terms of volume, you want to aim for roughly 2/3rds of your normal routine. If you are normally a 3 set type of guy or gal, 2 will be plenty.
Remember, these are just rough guidelines and it’s not going to make or break you if you are slightly above or below these numbers. The key take away point is that you are performing a much milder workout that what you would usually do.
When choosing the exercises for your workout, aim for compound movements rather than isolation exercises. For example, if your chest is hurting, don’t jump on the peck deck machine. Instead, look to do a dumbbell press or dips.
By choosing compound exercises you are not solely targeting any one muscle group that may be hurting. This allows other muscles to help burden the load while still providing the benefits of increased blood flow.
So Summing it all Up
Many experts agree that active recovery is one of the best ways to recover from muscle soreness faster. Working out with sore muscles may seem counter intuitive, but the benefits it delivers outweigh the alternative of just putting your feet up.
Sorry if this has taken away one of your best excuses for having a day off – you can thank us later.