Do You Have To Get Sore To Build Muscle?

Do You Have To Get Sore To Build Muscle?

Many people think muscle soreness equals muscle growth. But that’s just not the case.

Believe it or not, you can build muscle regardless if you get sore or not and that’s what you’ll learn about in the video below…


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Muscle soreness is NOT an indicator of a successful workout. Soreness just means that your muscle tissue is still inflamed and has not fully recovered.

For the most part it’s only out of shape beginners who get really sore after working out. Generally, the better shape you are in, and the more advanced you get, the less muscle soreness you’ll experience because you can recover faster from your workouts.

And that’s a good thing!
It should be a big relief to know that you don’t have to get sore and live the rest of your days in pain and agony simply because you choose to include weight training as part of your lifestyle.

Our body is not meant to be in pain and this should not be looked upon as a good thing.

The whole muscle soreness myth comes about when people first start weight training. At this stage their recovery sucks because they are out of shape. When they workout they are providing totally unique muscle stimulation that the body is not accustomed to, and this breaks down the muscle tissue and causes soreness.

This soreness could last for several days (or longer) and people mistakenly assume that they must have done a good workout if they are really sore afterwards. And then they’ll back that up by saying silly catch phases like “No Pain, No Gain” which is really a crock of BS.

While some people may think it’s cool and tough to say such things. That’s not how muscle growth really works.

The only way to know if you are on the right track for building muscle is with progressive overload. This simply means that you have to be getting stronger overtime, by either lifting more weight, performing more reps, or completing a set workload in less time.

If you are not getting stronger and you are not increasing your work capacity, than you are not building muscle, regardless of how sore you get.

Now generally the way muscle soreness works is that when you start off working out you’ll get really sore afterwards, especially if you are over zealous and do too much, too soon.

But if you stick with it and let your body adapt to the workouts, you’ll gradually experience less and less muscle soreness after training.

And eventually you’ll get to the point where you can go into the gym, bust your butt doing a really hard and intense workout, and you won’t experience any soreness at all the next day.

When this first happens a lot of guys mistakenly think they are doing something wrong. That they are not working out hard enough and that they need to push themselves even harder in the gym in order to get back the muscle soreness.

But instead, this lack of muscle soreness should be looked upon as a good thing. It means your body is adapting and growing from your workouts and that your work capacity has increased to the point where you quickly recover from intense training sessions.

However, this doesn’t mean that advanced lifters will never get sore. Sometimes when you do push yourself extra hard or try a new exercise or new workout routine that you’re not accustomed to you may still experience some muscle soreness.

But again, that doesn’t mean you’ve built more muscle. It just means that you are not fully recovered yet and need a little more rest time before hitting the gym again.

Remember, soreness does not have anything to do with what causes muscle gains — It’s progressive overload (lifting more weight and getting stronger over time) that is the stimulus to building bigger muscles.

So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to train for muscle soreness. I mean if soreness was all that was needed for muscle growth you could get someone to repeatedly punch you in the arms, while this may make you sore, it anit going to do anything for helping you build muscle.

Bottom line — lift smart and strive to increase the weights you are lifting over time with progressive overload. While you may still get sore from time to time, it’s just a sign that you haven’t fully recovered yet and need some extra rest. But don’t think that it’s the soreness that’s building muscle, because it’s not.

About The Author

leehayward

Lee Hayward is a competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online helping people build muscle, lose bodyfat, and get in shape since 1999. Lee was selected as one of the Top Fitness Trainers Online through YouTube's Next Trainer Program and his work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes.

18 Comments

  • Joseph

    Reply Reply

    Good stuff once again Lee. I believed that myth and to some degree still do just not so much meaning I still try to get sore meaning if it takes my body extra time to recover I assume that I had an extra intense work out of course not ever to the degree the soreness was when you first start working out like you said if that makes any sense..

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  • Tony

    Reply Reply

    Man I am sore all the time…. I think it is cause I change my routine up on a regular basis.. I follow your program workouts, which help me.. I have seen some good growth working out, but I am sore all the time… Thanks Lee

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  • Daniel Ali

    Reply Reply

    Hi Lee, Do I have to do the whole Blast your Biceps program in one session or 3 phases are for 3 different sessions. I will be ordering my program as soon as I get my credit card hopefully today. I did try out you explosive Biceps and I did manage to put 3.5cm on and it looks pretty cool. Now I need to get to the crunch and Blast my Biceps off. Thanks Mate. From DownUnder.

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  • Jo

    Reply Reply

    Hi Lee, I agree what you explained, but, i know for a fact that there’s a another way to get muscle soreness; and that’s when you do something brand new but still intense(exercises, training intensity, training style, name it) I experience regularly soreness this way when i change up my programs every3-8 weeks.
    But, the pain only last 24 hours at most and it’s not really painful, well maybe the legs, after doing each bodypart one time, no more muscle soreness until the next time.
    Maybe it’s in my head, but, i like the feeling of soreness, i do not think that it is why i improve, but still.

    Nevertheless, that pain is gone when the muscle are recovered and, able to do more.

    What do you think ?
    Great video thanks.
    JO.

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  • Well said Lee
    Another stupid myth busted

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  • Bob

    Reply Reply

    Great information as usual and keep it coming. I would also like to see information for older lifters, say 45+. There are many challenges as we age and any information is helpful.

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  • Just to clarify…
    There’s nothing wrong with getting sore, but soreness doesn’t mean you are building muscle. You can still make great gains, regardless if you get sore or not, provided that you are training with progressive overload.

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  • Daniel Ali:
    Hi Lee, Do I have to do the whole Blast your Biceps program in one session or 3 phases are for 3 different sessions. I will be ordering my program as soon as I get my credit card hopefully today. I did try out you explosive Biceps and I did manage to put 3.5cm on and it looks pretty cool. Now I need to get to the crunch and Blast my Biceps off. Thanks Mate. From DownUnder.

    The Blast Your Biceps program is a 3 phase system. So you’d follow phase one for 6 weeks, phase 2 for 6 weeks, and phase 3 for 6 weeks.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Bob:
    Great information as usual and keep it coming. I would also like to see information for older lifters, say 45+. There are many challenges as we age and any information is helpful.

    A lot of the same principles with regards to training, nutrition, supplements, etc. still applies to older lifters. But the older you get the more you have to listen to your body and be extra cautious with your workouts. More attention to warming up properly, taking extra rest days if needed, knowing when enough is enough, etc.

    Basically older lifters can’t get away with abusing their body’s like the young whipper snappers… 😉

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  • Muscle MythBusters! Definitely agree with the point that no longer being sore after an intense workout is a good thing. Knowing that you now recover faster means that you can take less time between workouts without overtraining, correct?

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  • Yes, less soreness will mean that you’ll be able to train more frequently and thus make faster gains. But again you need to listen to your body and monitor your results. It’s possible to over train without direct muscle soreness, but rather excessive stress on the central nervous system.

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  • Alex

    Reply Reply

    I understand what you mean.. and being an intermediate bodybuilder i am experiencing much less muscle soreness these days.. but i also think that that is when you must find ways to workout more intensely with supersets, drop or giant sets for example.. i love it when i change my workout and get really sore again, and off course it has to do with growth because that is when i get the best gains.. it’s not a direct effect, but both things go hand in hand with each other.. the type of cardio and stretching you do also has a large role in muscle soreness or lack of it..

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  • tamara

    Reply Reply

    this does work lee..true

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  • Do you have to get sore?
    Absolutely not.
    Soreness is either a sign of a long layoff or dramatically increasing your workload in a short amount of time.

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  • David

    Reply Reply

    Lee, I’ve been working out for about 6 years non-stop. I stoped working out for 2 years due to health issues. Now that I’m 48 years old, after my workout I feel the sourness untill 2 days after the workout. Why?
    Thanks

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  • JAMES GLAZNER

    Reply Reply

    Hi Lee, I’m back. I hurt my shoulder by over lifting some big logs. And I was in pain for about 2 months. I went to the doctor, and said I mess up my shoulder by lifting those heavy logs. So I pain medicine to kill the pain. Now Lee, I’m better now. And ready to get back to working out again. Do I need to start out working with light weights Lee? And work my way up?

    JAMES

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  • Sam

    Reply Reply

    Hey Lee, great article
    I was wondering if steroids give you a deep voice then how come many mr. olympia bodybuilders don’t have a deep voice; or do you have to take a combination of steroids with other drugs to give you a deeper voice?

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  • Sam,

    Steroids can drastically change the voice of a woman and make it deeper. But they usually don’t change the voice of man.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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