How can you tell if a workout was productive?

First, I’m new - been weightlifting 10 months.

My question is, how can you tell if a workout
was productive? Usually if I’m sore the next
day or two I chalk one up for the home team,
and if I’m not I try to change things up
to -get- sore.

Getting sore shouldn’t be a goal. In fact, it’s a sign something is wrong. Means you’re out of shape. Get in shape, and you should never be sore again.


Greg is right and wrong. Getting sore shouldn’t be your goal. Getting stronger, leaner, bigger, and or healthier are the goals people have in terms of weightlifting. soreness can be a sign for many things and determining your own soreness is quite simple to do. keep track of your workouts and see what makes you sore. getting sore does NOT mean you’re out of shape. being sore means that you’ve stressed your body a lot, you’re overtrained. this can be prevented by a lot of methods and easiest would be your diet. applying heat/ice is another, massage, stretching, etc. try and see what works for you. most of all, do NOT set your goal or monitor your progress on soreness.

DOMS does not neccesarily mean something is wrong. How to tell if a workout is productive: Are you any bigger or stronger?

A great way to figure out whether or not you had a good workout is the next time you work that same bodypart(s). If you made some progress (whether by an increase in weight, reps, etc) then you know that the previous workout was good.

It depends on your goals. If you are a powerlifter, it is pretty obvious if your workouts have been productive. If you are a bodybuilder, or just trying to improve body composition, you wait for several weeks or months and then use weight scale and calipers to measure your progress. As simple as that. Soreness has nothing to do with it, if you hit your head with a hammer you will be sore but there will be no progress whatsoever.

If I used more weight than the last time, or added reps/sets I know I’ve improved somehow & the session was productive. Sometimes I get sore & sometimes I don’t.

“If I used more weight than the last time, or added reps/sets I know I’ve improved somehow & the session was productive.” While this may work for the way you’re training, it isnt a good credo to train by. Sometimes you may want to not progress or even decline slightly, fallow that up by a period of training with similar intensity and much less reps, and youll grow.

There are a number of factors I use to determine the effectiveness of a workout:

  1. Use perfect form and avoid injury
  2. Train with intensity and focus
  3. Use proper nutrition pre/during/post
  4. Complete my workout in under an hour

If I feel like I have done these things I am confident that my workout was productive. Soreness is an indicator that tells me I provided my muscles with a new stimulus for growth.

dman: If I’m still a little sore, or tired or don’t feel recovered I don’t go all out, but I still do something even though I might not feel like it. If I feel really good though I’ll try to do one more rep/set etc.

DOMS is a good indicator of an effective training stimulus if your goal is hypertrophy. You are right in your thinking! However if you do not create an environment for growth via nutrition and recuperation its all for naught. Ultimately, the best index of a successful training program are the results over time.

DOMS is not a good indicator. Ill go quote supertraining and a few other books if you want me to.

DOMS is a direct result of fiber damage secondary to eccentric loading. I believe that this “microtrauma” is the required stimulus for the initiation of muscular growth (damage theory) therefore mild to moderate soreness is not only permissable but prefferred for inducing growth. Damage = DOMS = Hypertrophy (assuming everything else is OK; Nutrition, rest, etc…) Why do you think BBs stress eccentrics and slow,controlled movements more than strength athletes? Dman, I checked supertraining but couldn’t find it! Give me a page #. Also, I would like your opinion (or anyone elses’ on DOMS’s role in the hypertrophy process. If it is just a coincidental side effect then why do really strenuous bb’ing programs (like the limping series) elicit a greater DOMS effect? Do you subscribe to the bioenergetics theory (ATP supercompensation) that Siff seems to favor?

Me again! I just read muscle masochism in issue 161 & 164. I think this also lends support to DOMS being an effective measure of workout effectiveness. Opinions anyone?

I usually gauge my workout by whether or not I’m stronger in the same lift the next time I hit it. If gains stall (and they usually do around the 6th workout) I change it up. Ideally though, I plan these changes out and move to a new protocol before I stall out.

Soreness is a good indicator and so is progress
If you are up in weigths and/or reps from your privious workout (while maintaining the form of course ) you can be certian you are doing well.