Responding to muscle soreness

16.103 Muscle soreness is a fact of life for everyone who lifts weights. It is one of the rewards from a hard workout, proving that you delivered the goods. Good soreness comes from intensive effort in exercises done in safe form, is purely muscular, and goes away after a few days. ^is is different from longer last ing soreness from injury due to abusive exercise form, from having started a cycle too heavily, or from having stretched too far.

16.104 Muscle soreness can be very misleading. Some muscle groups show soreness much more readily than others. ^at your shoulders, for example, may never get very sore does not mean that they are not getting trained. And that another muscle may get sore very easily does not necessarily mean that it is going to grow faster than a muscle that is rarely if ever sore.

16.105 ^e misinterpretation of muscle soreness has produced exercise distortions that have become part of the folklore of bodybuilding, and which are at the root of much pain and injury. Some of the resulting exercises have been harmful for many people, e.g., a hack machine and Smith machine squats, and many exercises with exaggerated grips, stances and ranges of motion.

16.106 Tendons attach muscles to bones via a sheath over the end of each muscle. ^e muscle under the sheath does not have as many blood vessels as the muscle away from the sheath. ^e areas where there are fewer blood vessels cannot clear waste products as well as areas that are well supplied with blood vessels. ^is is why the end of the muscle is more likely to be sore than the rest of the muscle. But this has nothing to do with more growth stimulation for the end of the muscle. ^e desire for soreness in the ends of the muscles, e.g., lower quads and lower biceps, has encouraged exercise variations that produce exaggerated stress on the involved joints and connective tissue, leading to injury.

16.107 At the beginning of a cycle in general, and in particular when you are using a new exercise or one that you have not done for a while, take it easy. Pick up the intensity over a few weeks, never make any big jumps in training intensity, and then you will avoid getting any debilitating soreness.

16.108 When you are very sore you may be more prone to injury. Give yourself extra rest before you train the sore area hard again. You can do a scheduled workout that trains other areas of your body, unless you are wiped out sys-temically—in which case you need to recover more before you weight train again. On rest days, to help speed the easing of extreme soreness, do some additional low-intensity cardiorespiratory work, together with a carefully done stretching routine. Massage may also help to hasten recovery from soreness, as may a hot bath.

16.109 When you train a big exercise only once every 7-10 days, especially the squat, and train it intensively, you may get very sore. If so, and as noted elsewhere in this book, add a second but light squatting session later in the week. Do your regular warmup sets, but no top sets. ^is should be enough to substantially reduce any soreness from your next heavy squatting session.

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