Can I continue with this training plan?

Sore muscles: continue training or take a break from training?

Sore muscles are as old as mankind.

And yet many are still unsettled when the muscles burn on the day after a hard workout:

"Is it possible to train with sore muscles or do you need to take a break from training?"

One thing is as safe as the amen in church in strength and muscle building training: sore muscles.

You will not be able to avoid it completely if you train intensely and want to move forward.

At irregular intervals I organize a game of squash with friends - I love this sport.

Although strength or endurance training is part of my day like an espresso in the morning, I feel like I have aged by around 30 years every morning after a game of squash - the sore muscles turn into a big cat.

And then? Training break?

Many athletes pause until the sore muscles have completely healed. Often they miss the perfect time to get back into training - and their fitness progress looks accordingly.

So is a break really necessary?

When is the right time to get back into training?

What is sore muscles?

Researchers are interested in the phenomenon aching have been around for a long time and have published countless studies. But even though people have suffered from sore muscles since ancient times, even scientists understand its cause to this day rather poorly than right.

Causes: This is how sore muscles develop

The currently most common thesis is the following: muscle soreness is the result of inflammation caused by micro-cracks in the smallest working units of muscle tissue. Supporting this theory is that sore muscles can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Since practically everyone has been familiar with sore muscles, there are a number of wrong approaches. For example, the claim that muscle soreness is caused by lactic acid - lactic acid is produced during anaerobic energy production in muscles - has now been disproved.

Muscle soreness usually occurs when we expose our body to a training stimulus to which it is not yet adapted. A good example is your very first weight workout when your trainer meant it a little too well for you. An even better example is returning to training after a long break. If you overdo it, you will then enjoy sore muscles as described in a sports medicine specialist's dictionary - exquisite. In addition, muscle soreness can develop if you adjust your training plan and e.g. increase the intensity or number of repetitions, or do a new exercise.

Symptoms: What distinguishes sore muscles from other pains

Muscle soreness is delayed - it only becomes noticeable 12 to 48 hours after training. The time lag depends on several factors:

  • Age
  • fitness
  • Training volume
  • Training intensity
  • Muscle group
  • exercise

Perhaps you have already noticed that certain muscle groups are more prone to sore muscles than others and that certain exercises are real sore muscles, while others almost never cause symptoms.

Basically, movement patterns tend to cause sore muscles if the load is high during the eccentric part of the movement - the “negative” phase of a strength exercise in which the muscle becomes longer.

Would you like some examples?

Sore muscles are rare for exercises with a small eccentric component:

Muscle soreness occurs more often for exercises with both a concentric and an eccentric part:

Muscle soreness often arises with so-called Negative repetitions. This is an intensity technique that aims to fully utilize the muscle in the negative (eccentric) movement.

For example, you can have a partner help you with the final repetitions of the bench press and then end the set with one or more negative repetitions, in which you only concentrate on slowly lowering the barbell while your training partner supports you, bring the weight back to the starting position.

Sore muscles in the chest the next day are almost inevitable.

For every seriously training athlete, sore muscles are a part of it every now and then.

The all-important question is when does it get unhealthy?

Are sore muscles harmful?

Since sore muscles are inflammation in the muscle, you regenerate faster and more sustainably if you can do without it despite hard training.

There are training methods that have sore muscles as a “feature”, so to speak, as the muscles are regularly “shocked” with new training stimuli. First of all, that's not bad.

However, if the muscles do not have the opportunity to regenerate over a longer period of time, the inflammation can become chronic. Instead of strength and fitness, it can result in injury and illness.

If you have sore muscles from time to time, however, this is not at all harmful. By the way, many records in sports were set by athletes who had sore muscles.

Take a break from training if you have sore muscles - or continue training?

"Can I go to training even if my muscles are sore?" I hear this question regularly.

My answer: "It depends!"

It depends on how sore the muscles are and what kind of training you want to do.

The first question to ask yourself is what you are aiming for in today's training:

  • Do you want to train the same (painful) muscle group again?
  • How intense should your workout be?
  • Do you want to do some light cardio training or do you go to the heavy weights?

Second, it matters how well trained you are:

  • Do you have sore muscles because you have just trained with weights for the first time in your life or have you just returned to work after a training break of several months?
  • Or do you train regularly like clockwork and have you given it right this one time?

The best way to tame sore muscles as a beginner

If you have just started with muscle building training and the sore muscles are really strong, I recommend you: Give your muscles a break from training until you can move them painlessly again.

How to keep sore muscles at bay in 3 steps if you have been training for a long time

If you have been training continuously for more than 6 months and you know exactly how sore muscles feel, take the test and then decide depending on the result.

These three muscle soreness tests will help you to make a safe decision as to whether and how you can start training.

Sore Muscle Training Test # 1: How Bad is the Pain?

On a scale from 1 to 10: How sore are your muscles?

If you now answer 8 or 9, pause until you would rate the pain with a 4 or 5.

Sore muscles training test # 2: Can you train with full range of motion?

This method is a little more objective: test your movement amplitude.

Can you perform the movement of an exercise completely and without restriction from the starting point to the end point?

To do this, you should warm up properly beforehand - the warm-up often relieves the sore muscles.

If you still have so much pain that you cannot do a pull-up or a squat completely and cleanly, for example, then you are not yet ready for training and should allow yourself some time off.

Sore Muscle Training Test # 3: How Much Strength Do You Have?

If your movement amplitude is okay, you can also test your strength. You should also be well warmed up here.

Now get into your training with regular weight and repetitions and watch how well you get on with it.

Can you develop as much strength as usual despite sore muscles?

If you cannot do the desired number of repetitions with good technique without your muscles failing or excessive burning or pain, you are most likely not yet adequately regenerated.

What can you do if you don't want to take a break?

The above tests only apply to those muscles that are affected by sore muscles. You can continue to train all other muscle groups as usual.

Oh, you shot all muscle groups and really sore muscles all over the place? Hats off!

In that case, write a comment now, I would like to know how you managed to do it!

Alternatively, you can do a low-intensity cardio workout.

But here, too, the following applies: if you cannot perform the corresponding movement cleanly due to pain, leave it and allow yourself a break.

Does stretching prevent sore muscles?

Can muscle soreness be prevented if you stretch extensively before and after training?

Even if I regularly see athletes stretching before building their muscles - don't do it!

This is undermining your training success because the performance of previously stretched muscles is measurably lower.

Warm-up yes, stretching no!

Okay, back to our real topic - sore muscles. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it if you stretch.

Australian scientists asked themselves this general question some time ago and came to the conclusion that stretching cannot prevent sore muscles.


Unfortunately, there is no one hundred percent answer to the question of whether you should go to training with sore muscles.

Experienced athletes who have already trained with sore muscles at one point or another will probably have a good idea of ​​where they are on the scale from 1 to 10, how far they can go and when it is better to take a break.

If you still lack this experience, and you yourself for sure if you “only” have sore muscles, you can bite the bullet: Get into training and train despite sore muscles.

This is how you can judge what a 10 out of 10 means for you on the sore muscles scale.

It won't take you long to find out.

With this experience you know what a 4 or 5 on the scale means and when you can effectively get back into training and train sensibly.

Surely this is a slightly more demanding way of gaining experience. On the other hand, you only have to do it exactly once to find out your limit.

At the end of the day, one thing is still important to me: It's okay to use a muscle despite sore muscles, as long as you do all desired repetitions of your exercise with clean shape and with the total range of motion can perform.

If you lack the strength or if you cannot fully perform the movement, you are not ready yet. Then let it stay!

You should always consider these two factors - clean shape and movement amplitude - first of all!

Question: What is your experience of training with sore muscles? Are you one of those crazy people (welcome to the club) who even enjoy a little sore muscles ...? Write a comment.

Category: Fitness with M.A.R.K., muscle buildingTags: fitness training, strength training, muscle building training, sore muscles, regeneration, training, training theory, workout