What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – DOMS For Short
In the fitness community there are a lot of different fancy words thrown around which might sound like the equations of core physics. In this topic I’m focusing on what is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS for short) and some common questions revolving around it.
What DOMS Actually Is & What Causes It?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the feeling you get after training when you wake up the next day or two. Depending on various different factors the length of experiencing this is somewhere between one day to a week.
The important fact is that exercise science has not yet determined exactly what causes this phenomenon. But the research implies that it has something to do with microtears on the connective tissue of the muscles, more so than the actual muscle tissue which we’re trying to grow bigger and stronger!
The eccentric (negative) part of any lift plays a big part for causing DOMS. For example when bench pressing and you’re lowering the bar to your chest, that is the part of the lift that really causes the soreness.
Although the main reasons for DOMS is your current experience level, lifting intensity, new stimulus and frequency of training the same body part.
A beginner lifter who has never squatted before wants to try out the movement and starts doing sets of 8-12 adding weight as long as he trains in the 70-80% range of his one rep max. As the guys body is not used to performing squats he can be 99.9% sure that the DOMS will hit a day or two after that training session, and oh boy they will hit him hard! The soreness will be quite painful to be honest. Walking up and down stairs will be one hell of a push, just normal walking will hurt and sitting down will feel like the world is piling up on you. I know this and I’ve experienced it more times than I can count, it’s completely normal and you shouldn’t worry about it.
Lifting Intensity / New Stimulus
Intermediate lifters will also experience soreness sometimes, usually when they try something new such as movement or different rep ranges or just decide to train really hard close to their limits.
This is a huge part of getting DOMS. The more you train certain body part, the less you will experience DOMS from the training since your body gets used to the stimulus. This is valuable to digest because if you’ve been training for a while and hitting each body part only once per week and then you decide to hit each body part two times per week your body is not used to the extra stimulus you’ll be giving it.
Does DOMS Indicate That The Workout Was Successful?
One of the biggest myths is that the soreness after workout determines if the workout has been successful or not. And this simply is not true!
The occurrance of soreness has nothing to do with the fact that how effective your workout was. You will notice as you keep lifting more and more over time that you will be making progress and you will get only really minor DOMS if even anything. It’s all about your body getting used to the work your doing with it.
Eventhough I’m gaining strength and mass on a constant basis and not experiencing any DOMS, if I’ll go to a boxing class after a couple of years lay off, I will get soreness because my body isn’t used to that kind of stimulus. And if you compare which one puts more muscle mass on your frame, weight training or boxing the answer is without a doubt weight training.
So once again…
DOMS is NOT an indicator of the successfulness of a workout!
It’s just the fact that you’re providing your body a stimulus that you’re not used to.
What Really Determines The Success Of A Workout?
So that being said, the real indicator of a successful workout is basically divided into two different factors which are:
#1 Are you training with a high enough intensity? If you can honestly say that you gave everything you had in a workout and you did all of your movements within 1-2 reps short of failure, congratulations you have a successful workout since you overloaded your muscles with the proper intensity to give them a reason to grow!
#2 You’re making progress when comparing to the previous workouts. If you could perform more reps or more weight than before, you’ve given your body a reason to adapt to the new stress, and your body will do this by increasing muscle mass to be more efficient at handling the same weight next time!
Is It Detrimental To Workout When You’re Sore?
Absolutely NO! Infact this actually can alleviate the DOMS in quite efficient fashion. Quite a lot of people shy away from training when they’re sore and to be honest this is not the best way to go about it. But there is a couple of things to consider before hitting the gym again.
Don’t jump in there when you’re sore and perform with maximal intensity. Lower the volume and frequency down and focus more on the movement and don’t aim for those really heavy weights.
The timeframe in which your actual muscle growth happens is 48-72 hours after your workout, so If you’re still sore after 72 hours, don’t fear that you cannot make progress eventhough you’re experiencing soreness. It’s totally ok and even recommended to go in there and get a decent workout in.
So when it all comes down to it, DOMS is just a response from your body to stimulus that it’s not familiar of. It’s completely normal and excepted and everyone who works out on a regular basis will get familiar with it.
The only thing you can try to prevent it is to start out as slow as possible and gradually build up over time. When you get the soreness, there is not much you can do about it other than wait for it to subside. But the thing is that you shouldn’t start to avoid workouts just because you’re experiencing soreness.
To recap all the important points here is a bulletpoint list:
- DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- You’ll experience DOMS when your muscles experience unfamiliar stimulus
- Working out on a regular basis will diminish the effects of DOMS
- Lifting experience, lifting intensity, new stimulus and frequency will affect the occurrence of DOMS
- DOMS are not an indicator for successful or unsuccessful workout
- It’s a good idea to workout even if you experience DOMS, just reduce the volume and frequency
- The real factors that determine successful workouts are intensity and progressive overload
That is all there is to it guys and girls! I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any comments or suggestions I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment down below and I’ll get back at you.
Check out my article on how to structure proper diet when the goal is to build muscle HERE!