Should You Train When Sore?

Recently, Men’s Health magazine asked me, “Should guys train if they have sore muscles?”

Here are my thoughts…

1) It really depends on…

– why are you sore from yesteday’s workout
– what type of workout are you doing today
– what is your training goal

2) If someone’s goal is simply fat loss, they should be able to do some other activity to burn calories and sculpt their body without putting too much tension on the sore muscles.

3) If the muscles are extremely sore, there is no reason to exercise them again. Soreness means there is damage, and you put more stress on them, you will end up altering your form and that could injure a different muscle group.

And that final point might be the most important…

If you are quite sore, you will compensate and change your form to avoid working the sore muscles, and that will put a new stress on possibly unprepared muscles, and you could hurt yourself.

4) Light activity for sore muscles has been shown to increase the rate of recovery…but very light…loads of less than 10%. I would suggest gentle stretching for sore muscle groups and focus on the non sore muscle groups for the workout part.

5) A day off is not going to make anyone overweight. A day off is not going to cause someone to lose their fitness. A day off from hard training and replacement with stretching and a few different exercises will help people stay active and overcome that “mental fear of missing a workout”.

But really, its all common sense. Why do you really need to work a muscle group that is sore? Is it for a training effect or is it obsessive compulsive exercise addiction?

  • Craig,
    Good insights as always. I find the best exercise when muscles are sore is a simple walk. It definitely qualifies as a “light” activity.

  • Diana

    Hi craig!!!

    I don’t know what to do, because with you booty for wife program I’m always sore!!! Not extremely sore, but sore, I just started week 9 and what hurts is my upper body rather than my lower body (in previous weeks my lower body was sore from monday to thursday)… today is my day 3, and I’m going to workout anyway because if don’t I feel then it’s gping to hurt even more!!!

    I have a question though… the botty for wife is a fat burning program?? or just a toning program???

    To train or not to train, that is indeed the question…

    • Decrease the number of sets you do for each upper body exercise to 1 instead of 3. That will decrease the soreness. The program will help you lose fat and sculpt your body.