In a previous post I discussed perception versus reality in terms of what it actually takes for someone to gain a desired level of fitness, and the false perceptions of what it takes. As I mentioned feeling absolutely crushed after every single workout is not a good indicator of an effective training regimen.
Constantly feeling sore for days after your workouts is not necessarily a healthy way to approach training. Soreness is a poor indicator of a good workout.
What is muscle soreness? Muscle soreness (or DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness) is a normal adaptation process. This is a result of damage which occurs in muscle cells when stressed through a new range of motion, different volume of movement, etc. Essentially, when your muscles get sore, it means you have damaged them. Damaging a muscle is okay, as the body is a very adaptative organism and over time, the more you work a muscle group the less sore you should be, because the less damage to the muscle tissue you are doing. This is common place in someone who is new to exercise, or returning to exercise, or in someone who has ramped up the intensity of their movement, ie, heavier weight at same amount of reps. This should not be a common state of being. Soreness does not mean anything in regard to effectiveness of a workout.
There are two things to consider if you are finding yourself constantly sore.
1. You may more recovery days in between your workouts, as you are not recovering properly. This could be due to stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, age, or a handful of other factors. If you find yourself constantly sore, you need to increase recovery otherwise, you risk over training, and injury could result. Remember in order to grow stronger, and build lean muscle, you need to rest.
2. Your exercise regimen needs to be changed, and the “intensity” of your workouts needs to be reduced.
The first point is a no-brainer. If you want to make long term gains, you need to rest and recover. If your body feels beat up, rest. The body needs to heal itself in between bouts of exertion. Exercise is stress, and too much of any kind of stress has negative effects on the body. Typical muscle soreness does not mean just rest, however, prolonged soreness, or continual soreness may be indicative of a need for more recovery. If you are getting an adequate amount of recovery, excessive or continual soreness, is more likely a result of point number 2.
I am using intensity more in lines with volume, as many believe there is a correlation between the two.
The more you do, the more intense a workout is. I cannot stress enough that high volume workouts where you are doing countless number of reps of a movement, just for the sake of doing the reps, in order to make a workout longer has no place in any type of training, whether for health or performance. If doing a particular exercise or set number of reps, has no purpose or direction to an overall end goal, regardless if it is just body weight, can add up to having a detrimental effect on your training. High volume in the amateur trainee will not elicit the desirable adaptations one trains for in the first place. The opposite effect, is likely over time, and even worse, some type of injury or damage to muscles, joints, or supporting ligature could result.
As mentioned in previous posts, everyone, no matter what they are training for should have some sort of overall goal. Since there is a goal set, every workout should be geared towards that end goal, and if you are making progress towards it. If a workout's only measure is for the day, with no particular goal in the future to be measured by, it's garbage. If this is your exercise regimen, you need to find a new one.
Any inexperienced person, trainer, gym program can get you sore, damaged and broken, its quite an easy endeavor. Not every person, trainer, or gym program has the know how to actually have you accomplish something.