Is Soreness Required for Muscle Growth?

I'd let him make me sore.

As silly as it sounds, don’t you love being sore a day or two after a really intense workout?

In some twisted way, I think we all do. And it can be addictive; many people feel like they didn’t get a good workout unless they’re sore thereafter.

But it begs the question: Is soreness required for muscle growth?

No. Soreness is not required for muscle growth.

There is a lot that is still not understood about soreness, but it often arises after doing something new. New workouts or exercises are a shock to the body, and soreness may be part of the result. Since subsequent workouts are less of a shock, soreness tends to decrease over time.

If you’re just starting out with a new routine, you’ll probably feel it the next day. But if you’ve been training for years, you probably won’t feel the soreness. It doesn’t necessarily mean your muscles aren’t growing; it may simply mean that your body isn’t shocked in the same way.

And if you’re looking to build your muscles, sometimes no soreness is a good thing. Muscle soreness is often associated with endurance training (i.e., taking a spinning class, doing many reps of an exercise, etc.) and not the type of low-rep high-resistance strength training that stimulates muscle growth. In other words, if you do a few sets of heavy bicep curls in a low rep range (say 8 reps) until muscle failure, you probably won’t get sore. But there’s no doubt that it will grow your muscles.

Of course, if you try something different, work ignored muscles or push your body in a way in which it isn’t accustomed, then you’re likely to experience delayed onset muscle soreness. But it’s not required to gain muscle mass.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. Hey! Thanks for the tip! I was just arguing about this with my roommate. Guess I was right all along. 🙂

  2. I’m sore already every day after working. Not after working out. It’s because I have to work on my feet walking or running but always doing another thing I didn’t do the day before. So I’m working out different muscles every day. Since I gained more fat then not muscle mass, since I started this job, I think this kind of ever changing workout is bad. I conclude with the assumption that in a way always wanting to do something that makes you feel sore can be a bad thing.

    • If you’re always on your feet and keeping active, then you are expending a lot of calories. I’d take a look at what you’re eating and how much mental stress you have.

      • A good guess would be the mental stress and the inability to sit down to eat for more than five minutes. I’m working at a retirement home for mentally impaired, very old, people.

        Thanks for the thoughts, it raised my awareness for my eating behaviour.

    • christopher says:

      change shoes a number of times in a day-ok-at least twice in a day—-you will most definately notice the difference-and proper shoes and fit make the difference.trainers-part of day-exer-sandles rest of day.your feet will thank you.exer-sandles-as in Birkenstocks-just an example.no flip-flops-unless very short walkabout or the pool.

  3. Thanks for the tip! 😀
    Ehm… what is the name of that guy on the picture? Rawr…

  4. christopher says:

    a sore muscle burn really doesnt hurt day to day-and it wont be that intense from day to day.if similar workout stress is employed-it would vary in a mix of workout types.a bit of sore burn does indicate you worked the muscle-and gr8 recovery ensues-the very next day.bottom line-listen to DW-he knows what hes talking about.i sure do.

  5. I have been physical training with Firemen everyday working my muscles to the point i can’t do a single push or or situp the next day i’m so sore. I was researching and your suppose to have a rest period for muscle growth, but marines PT everyday? i was confused on how the whole situation works.

    • I believe it’s got a lot to do with attitude and your genetic foundation. Of course almost everyone can build a muscular and fit body, but some have to work much harder than others do and some just have to do it differently.
      I tried different things and my body has a 28-days cycle in which one week I can’t get myself to do anything and the other three I can’t resist training. If I train in that one particular week I’m sore, very quickly exhausted and get unbelievably hungry. However: training in the three other weeks is easy and I don’t get hungry all the time, manage to lose weight/increace muscle mass and reduce body-fat. Funny in some way…

    • I’m a Marine and PT is only required for x amount of days throughout the week. I’m in the infantry and sometimes training ops get into the way of that. But the PT we do is generally only enough for general fitness. We have to take time out of our day to PT on our own and see real improvements.

  6. I’m fourteen and i used to do over a hundred crunches without being sore the next day. I do around three hundred now and I’m STILL not sore!!!! I thrive off of that soreness to keep me motivated but I’m just not feeling it. And I’m vegan so that means lots of fruits and veggies. Not sure if that has anything to do with this. I want to be more toned not bursting with muscle.. Please help!

  7. “Muscle soreness is often associated with endurance training (i.e., taking a spinning class, doing many reps of an exercise, etc.) and not the type of low-rep high-resistance strength training that stimulates muscle growth. In other words, if you do a few sets of heavy bicep curls in a low rep range (say 8 reps) until muscle failure, you probably won’t get sore. ”
    — Been training 18yrs consecutively 5-7 days a week, I don’t endurance train, I train for strength, I don’t concur with the above quote (although it may be accurate for the majority?), as for the last 8+ yrs the majority of my lifting has been under 12 reps, slow on the eccentric contraction, and I can create intense 5-7 day soreness that occurs 24-48hrs after that body part was hit, regularly.. In my “professional” opinion it’s all about the intensity, and taking things to failure….(not high reps) TRAIN HARD.. results will be evident.. I just learned this one: REST UP! 🙂 … I hadn’t learned about that part of the game until about 13 years into my training when my progress started digressing…
    Back on track now… and plan to continue on.. PS: Watch out for the connective tissue injuries..they don’t make a come back 😉 Another gem for ya’: Anyone who “looks good” likely has a fair amount of injuries incurred in the pursuit of their goals… it’s just part of the game… So be prepared, and be PREVENTATIVE! … – BIG E / NY

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  20. Soreness is obviously not a sign of muscle growth. As you said when the body expect something and it gets a shock, it will react in a different way, most of the time, painful way. It also doesn’t mean soreness is not good. Soreness is actually a micro breakage of muscle tissues, which actually helps to adapt to the change. It will help to muscle to adapt to exercise, and with right diet, it will grow further. What i find, right diet and rest, these two factors are quintessential part of muscle growth and injury free training.

    Good article. Thanks.

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  22. I cannot tell you how many times have I asked myself whether I have had a good workout or not because I didn’t get a good soreness as I used to get when I was first starting out. Not gonna lie, an extremely frustrating process!
    It is true, what you said in your article, muscle soreness is not associated with a good workout, but rather with the fact that our bodies get accustomed to the workout regimes.
    However, muscle soreness is in a way connected with muscle growth, to an extent.
    Due to the fact that muscle soreness is associated with the amount of stress that you are placing on the body then that means that you are not stressing the muscle group enough. No muscle soreness may also be an indicator that something needs to be changed in your workout – weight, rep range, range of motion, exercises and other factors that can be altered to achieve better stress on the muscles!

    Good read, though! Something that every beginner and intermediary needs to read!

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