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Effects of Muscle Soreness on Hypertrophy

Dr. Darden, a couple direct questions:
Does muscle soreness equal muscle growth?
Is full recovery (no soreness) necessary before working the same muscle again?

I believe muscular soreness plays a role in muscle growth. But how much, I don’t know.

Your second question, I don’t believe a lack of soreness is necessary before you can work it again.

Interestingly, Arthur Jones always said that soreness from lifting was NOT in the muscle. He said it was in the surrounding sheath.

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How do you feel about never being sore from working out

I’d love to know too how much a role soreness plays. I’ve been using my compex elite and stimulating the hell out of my muscles since I got Covid and a little before. I’ll get DOMS 2 days later and have it last for 1-3 days. I’ve always thought muscle stimulators were gimmick and now I’m not so sure.

I usually don’t work a muscle when it is really sore. @wanna_be I am always sore after working out! Otherwise I don’t feel I went hard enough. (I also end up injured a lot)

I lift as hard as impossibly can, every session. And I’m never sore lol. It would be nice for the mental masterbation to be sore, feel like I destroyed something.

Well, if your muscles are getting bigger and you are not getting injured, you are doing it perfectly.

I agree. I was just curious to hear his thoughts on that.

Do I read you correctly, you never get sore?

Pretty much. If I go a while between training claves and hamstrings I can feel a little doms but other than that no soreness really. I’m sure if I went long periods without training it would be more pronounced.

I can get sore in various ways…

Sometimes with a slower negative and heavier weight…

Sometimes with a lighter weight, but short rest (15-20 sec rest) between sets (Gironda approach)…

Sometimes with a new exercise…

Movements which emphasis stretch…

I usually look forward to being sore as sometimes it’s the only thing that shows I did something. It’s nice to feel my lats being sore as I then know I worked them hard. I know if I stay on the same routine for weeks it’s hard to get sore but if I change things up I usually always get sore in some muscles. Even though I’ve been doing this 30 10 30 a few weeks now and I focus more on back than pushing movements my triceps still get sore most workouts . I have to really work my lats hard to get them to hurt. I feel them most when I do my negative chin portion ( not 30 10 30 ) of the workout .

I just did a version of the Big routine. I say version because I don’t remeber the whole routine.

Three hours later and I’m starting to feel sore. For me I usually feel it the most 2 days later.

I call it a good sore.

I love that sore muscle feeling the next day or so. Delts are another muscle I find hard to get sore.

Here is the academic perspective: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/fulltext/2013/10000/is_postexercise_muscle_soreness_a_valid_indicator.2.aspx

If I read that right soreness doesn’t mean growth is happening and no soreness doesn’t mean growth isn’t happening.


I love the soreness feeling the next day, kinda how I gage the workout, hard enough or too easy.

==Scott ==
A very useful perspective !! If I understand it correctly muscle soreness isn’t really necessary for hypertrophy and too much soreness can impede recovery. Finding the right medium might be the key? In the past I have felt accomplished when I got very sore after a workout which I did quite often. If I wasn’t sore it was like I failed! It could very well be why so many times I failed to progress and then I’d quit for a while , recover and come back eventually to do it all over again. I’m thinking this 30 10 30 might just be the medium I’m looking for that sits between too much and too little yet still promotes hypertrophy!

He may have been onto something. Some research suggests that exercise induced damage to the extracellular matrix (a kind of connective tissue framework surrounding the muscle fibers) may be related to DOMS.

Here is an example:


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