Muscle Soreness & Pump: Are They Important To Your Workout?

Anyone trying to lose fat or build muscle always wants to do it as quickly as possible, and that probably explains why so many people seem to base the effectiveness of a workout on the instant feedback they get from it.

Now I don’t just mean the geniuses who get on the scale, then jump on a treadmill for 30 minutes, and then get on the scale again to see all of the “fat” they already lost. Nor do I mean the other dumbasses who measure their arms, do 15 sets of curls, and then measure their arms again to see how much their biceps have already grown.

The instant feedback I’m referring to here isn’t so much seen or measured… it’s felt. I’m talking about:

  • Pump
  • Soreness

These are the 2 “feelings” that people seem to use as an indicator of how effective their weight training workouts are. How so, you ask?

Well, in a lot of people’s minds, a super intense pump = a super awesome workout! Crippling muscle soreness the next day = guaranteed sign of a successful workout! Hardly any pump? Then you failed. No soreness whatsoever the next day? Then your workout was an ineffective waste of time.

But just how true is all of this? Let’s find out…

What Is Pump?

Pump (aka “the pump”) is the immediate but short term feeling you get in your muscles during your workouts as a result of blood filling the area.

You know, sorta like what happens with that other body part us guys have.

The muscle being trained feels “fuller” and “tighter” and “bigger” and just pretty awesome in general. In fact, Arnold himself agrees with this description a bit too much (warning: that link may be slightly NSFW).

The degree of pump you get depends on a few factors (e.g. exercise selection, rep tempo, etc.). But the most significant factors are likely rest periods (less rest between sets = more pump), rep ranges (higher reps per set = more pump), and more than anything else… total training volume.

Basically, the more sets, reps and exercises you do for a muscle group in a given period of time, the more “pumped” it is likely to feel.

What Is Soreness?

Whereas “the pump” is something you feel during your workout which goes away soon after, soreness (aka DOMS, aka delayed onset muscle soreness) is that feeling of “stiffness” you start to notice later on… typically several hours after your workout.

It’s pretty normal for this soreness to then last up to 1-3 days, sometimes even more. Which means, it’s much more of a long term feeling than the pump.

But just like “the pump,” the degree of soreness you experience also depends on a few different factors. Matt Perryman does the best job I’ve seen of covering every single aspect of it right here.

However, soreness tends to be a little harder to pin down than the pump is. I mean, just do a bunch of sets of dumbbell curls and you’ll have a pretty good pump in your biceps. Soreness doesn’t work quite like that.

It seems to vary widely based on the following:

  • Exercise Selection
    Certain exercises, specifically those with a stretch component to them, are just more prone to causing soreness than others. For example, Romanian deadlifts (the perfect real world example of this) and split squats will always make it damn near impossible for me to sit the next day. Skull crushers will always make my triceps super sore. Dumbbell flyes will cause more chest soreness for me than any amount of bench pressing ever will.
  • How Accustomed Your Body Is (Or Isn’t) To What You’re Doing
    The less used to something your body is, the more muscle soreness you’re likely to experience. That’s why when you’re a beginner who is starting to work out for the first time, you’ll probably be more sore after those first few workouts than you’ll ever be at any point in the future. You’ll often notice something similar when you start doing an exercise you’ve never done before or just haven’t done in a long time, or even just when you change some aspect of the way you train. But then, as more time passes and your body gets more accustomed to what you’re doing, you’ll often experience less and less soreness.
  • Individual Weirdness
    For example, I can’t even remember the last time my biceps were sore the next day. No matter what exercise I do, there’s just nothing. Weighted pull-ups always make my lats sore for a day or two, but lat pull-downs done at an equal intensity? Pretty rare. I can probably list a dozen more examples like these. What’s the deal? No idea. In my experience, some of us just get sore from certain things at certain times, and some of us don’t. I have no real explanation for it other than “individual weirdness.”

Now for the big question…

Are Pump And Soreness Indicators Of An Effective Workout?

Simply put… no. The presence of a pump during your workout and/or muscle soreness in the days following your workout DON’T mean you had an effective workout or a productive workout or a results-causing workout.

At the same time, NOT having a crazy pump or experiencing extreme soreness doesn’t mean your workout was bad, or ineffective, or unproductive, or useless.

As far as workout effectiveness goes, muscle soreness and pump mean nothing.

So if your training is built around what best produces these “feelings,” then congratulations… you’re training like a moron.

The same goes for if something was making you sore, but then it gradually stopped making you sore weeks/months later. That doesn’t mean it’s “not working” anymore. That’s total nonsense, and the fact that it was making you sore before didn’t mean it was ever “working” in the first place.

Then What Does Tell Us If Our Workouts Are Effective?

So if soreness/pump tell us nothing about the effectiveness of our workouts, then what does?

Well, a reader recently asked if they were doing enough in their workouts because it didn’t “feel” like they were. Part of my answer then is pretty relevant now:

You see, the goal of your workout isn’t to feel tired, drained or trashed at the end. Your goal isn’t to get tons of pump. Your goal isn’t to feel sore as hell the next day. Instead, your only real goal is to make progress. After all, that’s the one and only indicator of a successful workout.

and

Remember, your goal isn’t to “feel” like you’re doing enough to get results. Your goal is to actually get results. Which means, don’t base the effectiveness of your workout on how it felt. Base it on what really matters… which is the amount of progress you made.

So if progressive overload is happening at an acceptable (and realistic) rate, and your body is improving the way it should at an acceptable (and realistic) rate… then guess what?

Your workouts ARE working regardless of how much soreness or pump you’re feeling or not feeling.

But Wait… Hold On… These “Feelings” Are Still Useful

Now while muscle soreness and pump don’t tell us anything about the effectiveness of our workouts, they may not be entirely useless. In fact, they CAN serve a legitimate purpose.

They are an indicator that your muscle(s) did something.

Once again, they don’t tell us if that “something” was good or bad, useful or useless, successful or unsuccessful. But they do tell us that a given muscle group actually did something.

Confused? Here’s a few common examples of what that means and what purpose it can serve…

  • If you’re doing back exercises like rows, pull-ups or lat pull-downs, and during/after the exercise it feels like your biceps did a ton of work but your back did absolutely nothing, then that’s a problem if your goal was to actually train your back rather than just move a bunch of weight around. In this case, a lack of pump/soreness is a good sign that you’re not properly using the target muscle group (a common problem: How To Use Back Muscles During Back Exercises).
  • The same goes for if you do some type of bench press and feel nothing whatsoever in your chest, but your shoulders and triceps are super pumped. Again, if you’re training for strength rather than size, this matters less. You mostly just care that the bar is moving, not which muscle groups are moving it. But if you are benching for the specific purpose of training your chest, a lack of pump/soreness in that muscle group is a sign that this exercise may not be providing the intended training stimulus.
  • If you do the Romanian deadlift and feel a ton of work being done by your lower back and nothing being done by your hamstrings, then this isn’t just a sign that you may not be properly training the target muscle group. It’s also a sign that your form may be terrible (e.g. rounding your back/bending at your waist instead of your hips).

See what I mean?

Now, you’ll never be able to do a row or pull-up without your biceps doing a significant amount of work, just like you’ll never be able to bench press without your triceps and shoulders doing plenty of work as well.

However, if pump and muscle soreness are showing you that those muscle groups are doing damn near ALL of the work while the main target muscle groups (back and chest respectively) are doing little to nothing, then that’s a pretty good sign you need to fix something somewhere (assuming you’re more interested in muscles than movements).

And in that regard, these feelings can serve a useful purpose after all.

The Final Verdict

So, here’s what it comes down to…

Why They Don’t Matter

On one hand, getting a pump during the workout or feeling sore in the hours/days after the workout are pretty much meaningless in terms of monitoring the success of your training and are in no way an indicator of how effective (or ineffective) your workout was. Meaning…

  • You can get an amazing pump and be sore as hell the next day and have accomplished absolutely nothing (which probably describes most of the people in your gym getting shitty results).
  • Or, you could have felt an average pump at best and experienced no soreness whatsoever yet had the most successful and productive results-stimulating workout of your life.

For this reason, the intent of your workout should NOT be to get a MaD SiCK BRo-PuMP or be so sore the next day that you can’t put on a shirt or sit down on a toilet. The true intent of your workout is to make progress. That progress (or lack thereof) should be the primary indicator of whether or not what you’re doing is actually working.

Why They Sometimes Can Matter

But on the other hand, these “feelings” don’t need to be ignored entirely, especially if you’re training muscles for the purpose of making them bigger, stronger and prettier.

In that case, if you do an exercise for Muscle XYZ, and have no indication of any kind during/after that Muscle XYZ actually did anything during that exercise, then that’s a possible sign that something is wrong somewhere.

Maybe your form needs to be fixed (probably the most common issue). Maybe your exercise selection needs to be adjusted. Maybe your mind/muscle connection needs to be improved. Whatever it is, if you’re training Muscle XYZ, then Muscle XYZ should feel like it’s being trained to some extent.

That definitely doesn’t mean you MUST be sore the day(s) after your workout (as mentioned above, soreness varies widely… so I wouldn’t base much on soreness). And it also doesn’t mean you need to experience the most intense pump on your life (and if you’re training intelligently, you won’t).

It just means you should feel something in the muscle being trained. Just enough to let you know that the body part that should be doing some of the work actually is.

And The Winner Is…

You shouldn’t think of pump and soreness as an indicator of workout effectiveness and progress. They’re absolutely not. What you can think of them as however is an indicator that you actually used the muscle(s) you were trying to use.

77 thoughts on “Muscle Soreness & Pump: Are They Important To Your Workout?”

77 Comments

  1. It’s really awsome i was just thinking this very day about this and was wondering if i don’t get sore anymore from some exercise did i do it wrong. But your timing was perfect and now i know.

    Thanks

  2. ”So if your training is built around what best produces these “feelings,” then congratulations… you’re training like a moron.” Lol! It gave me a good laugh..
    Very good article. Could not be explained more clearly.

  3. Great article as usual..
    Since you mentioned soreness as a sign of what you might be doing wrong in an exercise, when I do deadlifts I always feel sore in my lower back the next day, is that normal or is it a sign that I am not doing it correctly?

    • You didn’t mention which type of deadlift you’re referring to, but generally speaking, the lower back is always going to be heavily involved in it.

      But honestly, the “soreness/pump method” is only one small sign in this case. Actually seeing the exercise performed is the only real way to know for sure if your form is what it should be.

      • I was referring to the regular deadlift, I don’t know if it has another name. I had a friend watch me do it and he mentioned that I have to bend my knees which I wasn’t. Should I bend my knees? and should the bar touch the floor on each rep?
        Thanks for your time..

      • If the muscle I’m training hurts DURING the exercise, for example, let’s say my biceps hurt during barbell curls, or my quads during squats: is this an indicator of a good workout?

        • If you feel the muscle that should be working actually doing the work during an exercise, that’s a good thing. It can potentially mean your form is good.

          But it’s not indicating that your workout was good and effective. I mean, I can go into the gym today and do nothing but 100 sets of 100 reps of biceps curls and my biceps will feel all kinds of shit going on. But was that a good and effective workout? Not at all.

  4. Sometimes that gives me the feeling that I’m not working as hard as I should. I lift as much as I can, but I dont feel like I’m pushing hard enough. By the end I’m thinking I must’ve not eaten well enough before the training, or that I didn’t get enough sleep and thus couldn’t do anything well.

    • As long as the weight on the bar is moving in the right direction at a realistic rate and your body composition is doing what it should be doing (also at a realistic rate), then that’s mostly all you need to care about it.

  5. Wow, this cleared up lots of my questions. Thanks for sharing!
    Though now i have another question, how long should i wait to see/ check my progress?
    As for now i’ve been lifting weights for 2 months but my muscle growth seems very minimum or cant be really seen by the eyes.

        • If you’re not tracking your body weight, it means you’re not tracking your rate of weight gain. And if you’re not tracking your rate of weight gain, it means you’re probably not tracking your calorie intake and actually eating a surplus.

          And if you’re not eating a surplus, you’re not eating to support growth.

          Which means, you’re not gonna grow regardless of what you’re doing in the gym.

          • I see, thanks man!, i will check out more about this surplus. However, i read from scoobyworkshop about the growth, he said that muscles need protein to grow, and eating more then my daily calorie needs will make me fat? How true is that?

          • Muscle growth requires sufficient protein and calories.

            Exceeding the amount of calories your body needs to build new muscle tissue will definitely result in fat gain. No doubt. However, this doesn’t change the fact that muscle can’t be built out of nothing… a surplus is required.

          • Thanks for clearing it out for me. I will start taking surplus now haha. Now i feel like i wasted 2 months of training for nothing. Damn it >_<. Well, Ima keep reading more of your articles =)

  6. Hey awesome article again!! I trained for around 12 months starting weight was 9st12lb, i had never touched weights before, and after a year of training i weighed around 12st 8lb….i do admit that i used to think of soreness as a sign of a good workout but after around 6 months i stopped getting sore, but the progress continued. I started a new job as an Tree surgeon and stopped training for around 4 years because i couldn’t put the effort into working out or recovery needed to make optimal progress and felt i would be wasting my time because of how hard physically the job is…after 4 years i felt i had got used to the work load and it was part of life,i’d adjusted and it had become natural, i didn’t feel tired and decided to work out again, after another 14 months of working out (weight now a 14st 3lbs body fat around the same amount) i don’t really get too sore maybe a day or so here and there, i’m still making progress but I have had soreness when i train my biceps and my fore arms..i get sore every back and biceps work out and i can do only two sets of curls and be sore for 5 days sometimes longer…i think this might be linked to the amount of lifting, pulling my body weight while climbing, grabbing ropes and holding chainsaws all day and not being able to recover but i’m not sure because i got sore biceps easily before i started the new job. Does over training make you sore?? i also get a cramping feeling while doing curls but every other muscle group is fine, i eat healthy foods, drink 5 or more ltrs of water daily, eat 4500 calories daily because of my energy requirements, use BCAA, creatine. Sorry about the length of the question lol, i felt i had to explain the work loads and situation because i think that might be the cause but i’m not sure and need an experts help…thanks for your time and keep doing what ur doing 🙂

    • If you’re using a muscle group significantly at work on a daily (or close to it) basis, and then going into the gym and training it a couple of times per week, then sure… it’s definitely possible that you’ll be sore all the time because the muscle is never really getting a break.

      I’d personally be less concerned about soreness in this case, and more concerned about developing an injury from overuse. You may need to cut back somewhere to compensate.

  7. Great article as it covered a doubt I had In my mind. I started my local this gym this week, completly changed my diet to suit, Im 6 ft 2, 22 years old and about 13 stone. I feel majorly embarressed with the how small im lifting yet struggling towards the final sets where I can possibly lift anymore. First couple of days I was really sore from monfay to wednesday so I had thursday as my rest day. So I went in this morning which is a friday did my usual upper body workou, felt the ‘pump’ and trained to failure but I dont any soreness what so ever. Surely my body isnt adapting within a 4 day workout ? Would this be a tell tale sign of upping the weights ? I am a real newbie to this and just need advice or someone to point me in correct direction. Thanks !

  8. This was extremely helpful! Oftentimes I rely on how sore I am as an indicator of how well I did my workout the day before.

  9. Hi there, I started working out four weeks ago and things seem to be going well. What I have been wondering is:
    Should I use lighter weights and perform my reps slowly? I read an article saying that I should lift the weight for about five seconds and then lower the weight for about five seconds…. 5 sec up, 5 sec down… they say this will increase the amount of time your muscle is tensed and therefore will build you much quicker. However, I can lift twice the amount of weight if I perform reps that take about one or two seconds up and one or two seconds down. (Without swinging the weight or anything)

    I’m thinking higher weights as long as I don’t cheat like swinging the weights or lowering them too quickly. Higher weights with maintaining full control of every rep.

    So what do you think is better? Higher weights with quicker movements or low weights with slow movement?

    • While rep tempo sometimes has its uses, I honestly don’t put much emphasis on it and hardly ever use or prescribe a specific number of seconds for the concentric or eccentric portion of a rep. I find it’s more of a distraction than anything else. I’d much rather see 100% of the focus during a set be on proper form, using the target muscle(s), and progression… not counting seconds.

      But in general, I like to see the weight lowered under control on the way down, and then exploded back up. Simple as that.

      Some exceptions exist (like calves, which tend to benefit from lowering slower and pausing), and certain exercises really aren’t meant to be “exploded” (like leg extensions or lateral raises, for example), but for the most part… controlled eccentric, explosive concentric is what I recommend.

  10. Thanks man, very good article! Had this thing today, I did cardio before and I couldn’t lift my usual amount of weight. I feel sore, but I couldn’t complete all the biceps exercises I used to complete before. You see, before I used to do cardio after weights or not do it at all. I think I shouldn’t do cardio before weights. It really got me frustrated today, in fact right now I am very worried. Cause biceps I used to lift 22 lbs, today I couldn’t lift that, and at one exercise I only could do 2 sets out of 3 sets.

  11. Such an informative article.. I’m addicted to working out because of the results. I’ve always been small and skinny so wanted to put on a lot of muscle for sexy curves. I work out my legs 5 times a week with weights, squats, lunges. Is that too much? I work out arms and abs 4 times a week.
    I’m noticing good results but don’t want injury.

  12. I have read a few different explanations of why DOMS happens, the most common being minor muscle tears. I remember reading about this years ago and one of the reasons for muscle soreness given was a lactic acid build up, I have also heard of a few other more technical scientific reasons. Is micro muscle tears still considered to be the main cause of DOMS.

  13. First time lifting after 13 yrs. Marine Corps injury. Next day feels like my arms are going to fall off.Guess I can chalk it up to being a newbie

  14. Wow, great article. Exactly what I was looking for and perfectly explained 😀
    I did arms yesterday and my arms were pretty sore AFTER the work-out (2-3 hours later) but this morning, after getting 8 hours of sleep, I didn’t get that sore feeling like I did last week.

    But it only makes sense that if you eat and rest properly, soreness or no soreness, you will make progress.

    Thanks a bunch, bookmarked your site and looking forward to more articles 😀

  15. Glad to read this. I think I’m one of those weird ones. Feel the pump while working out. But hardly soreness the next day.

  16. thanks a lot this article was very helpful. I had just worked out my biceps hard the day before and didn’t get sore the next day but bad a huge pump so I was wondering if I got a good workout. according to your article I did.

      • Well i probably was in the moron section of people who used soreness as a sign !! but my personal understanding was that it helped me to understand the specific exercise that i was performing was hitting the targeted muscles or not !(i know being dumb is what i was )
        However it helped me to some what get motivated for the next day or so !. As for newbies the results don’t kick in until quite a few months have passed so they start taing soreness as a sign 🙁
        Then again soreness or pump may be useful for beginners who have no trainers around to guide them with postures like you mentioned in your article
        so the saying “no pain no gain” isn’t entirely true then !!!

        • Yup, that is another “benefit” of soreness… it does make uninformed/stupid people think something good was accomplished in their workout, and this can be beneficial from a motivational standpoint. Which of course is why most shitty personal trainers aim to make their clients as sore as possible early on (so they come back/keep paying).

          Of course, the downside is that this mindset leads a person to start training specifically for soreness, and that almost always will entail training like an idiot.

  17. I’ve been starting your upper/lower A/B workout ever since I found this website a few weeks ago. I found the article about how bodybuilding routines suck for building muscle and thought “Finally some real answers to questions of what does and does not work!” Great stuff by the way… I do have a question though, I’m not sure if I missed it anywhere, but I was wondering what tempo to lift weights at? I just use dumbbells at home for my workouts, and I was wondering if there is a better lift speed, or how many seconds up and down to lift? Thanks a lot!!!

  18. This article makes complete sense. Worked out in a gym for many years. Always got very sore but didn’t get many results. Started doing bodyweight workouts only a few months ago. I rarely get sore BUT am seeing muscle growth results I never did in all my years in the gym. In retrospect, one of the reasons I saw little growth is that I was going too hard. Anyway, bodyweight training is absolutely incredible. Doing push-ups (and all their variations, including using gymnastics rings hung form my chin-up bar), pull-ups, planks, etc. are proving very effective. All the results and minimal soreness….can’t beat it. Thanks for the well-written article. :O)

  19. I have always gotten a pump with my workouts, yet have never really had much soreness. I have always worked on having one more rep than the last workout or uping the weight. I seem to get decent results but yet I dont lose very much body fat in the belly. My diet is below my alotted calories for the day(im sure) as I track it with an app tracker and I gain muscle at a slow but progressive weight. Could it be that I am still not working hard enough or is it something in my diet. I lift until Im as close to failure as possible without failing on that lift. A little bit lost.

  20. I had to take a year and a half off from any heavy lifting but am back at it again. I have worked out for about 2 months now and cant and never could get my biceps sore. I assume this falls under the weirdness factor because I get a good “pump” in my biceps but never any soreness. I have tried just about every differant type of bicep exercise possible and had good result (steady increases in weight). However the muscles and tendons on the inner part of my elbow area do get sore now that I am training again. I am just wondering if it is possible that I am getting more of a forearm workout from some of these exercises. Have been called popeye due to the size and strength of my forearms and am wondering if that is taking away from my actual bicep goals? Seems likely to me.

    • As long as your form is good and there’s no stupid jerky motion where you’re just throwing the weight up with momentum or anything similar… then it could just be weirdness. My biceps get a pump like crazy, but are pretty much never sore. They still grow just fine, which is all I care about.

      Also keep an eye on that pain you mentioned. Sounds like medial epicondylitis which is one super annoying/stubborn/hard to fix injury.

      • I mainly stick with EZ grip preacher curls so the jerky motion isnt an issue. When I do other bicep exercises I am very mindful of form and often do the lifts with my back on the wall to avoid bad form. Especially after watching so much bad form from other people in the gym. Am keeping a close eye on my inner elbow area, which seems to be getting less and less sore per workout. Will keep an eye out to make sure its not medial epicondylitis as well. In your opinion do you think forearm strength can pull away from bicep development? Not completely but partially?

        • If all you’re doing is hammer curls, then definitely. Otherwise, as long as form is good, the biceps are always going to be the primary mover in supinated elbow flexion exercises. Forearms (specifically the brachioradialis) will be also contribute as well secondarily, so “partially” taking away from the biceps is possible… but definitely not entirely.

  21. Maybe I missed it somewhere, but should you work a muscle if it is still fairly sore from your last workout? I generally do unless I’m really sore.

    • Depends why you’re sore. If it’s significant chronic soreness, that may be the result of an improperly designed program/diet/something else (lack of sleep, too much stress, etc.) that is causing issues with recovery.

      If everything is being done properly however, then training through some mild soreness is perfectly fine.

  22. Great article. Very thorough stretching (both dynamic and static) after working out was drilled into me in dance training years ago as supposedly it prevents DOMS so a dancer can perform/train the next day more easily.

    I’m not sure if this is true or a “dancer myth” (like the whole low weight/high rep nonsense), but it stuck with me and seems to work. When I work out with my husband doing at the same intensity (though I use lighter weights), I spent 10 minutes after stretching all over, he touches his toes for a few seconds and goes “done” and wanders off. He always gets much worse DOMS than me 😀 I just got him a foam roller to help.

  23. Thank you. You have explained it well, I am one of those soreness junkies (was until now).. One question: I undertand about the beginners feeling the soreness after a few hours/ or the next day after a workout but can you explain why bodybuilding enthusiasts’ have the ideology that soreness after a workout means that a person has succeeded their previous workout in terms of workout volume, weight sets and reps? for example doing a weight you never done before and the next day you are sore and this happens repeatedly can’t this soreness be an indication that the muscle is adapting to the weight? I hope you understand my question because it’s all a ‘little’ confusing to me.

  24. Good morning Jay,

    I have read throughly this article and undestrood that soreness does not equeal results but can soreness stall your results?

    I trained for several years but stopped training for abot 3 years. Recently (4 months ago aprox) I started training again with your starters routine. Got good progress for 3 months but then some body parts just stopped progressing.

    After that Indecided to shift to your muscle building routine. I have been doing this routine for two weeks and have started seeing gainz again but I am always sore. I’m doing legs tuesday and friday and my legs are sore all week (except tuesday and friday morning).

    Would appreciate your help to see if i should doze down or will this just go away in a few weeks.

  25. hey man i started working out about 4 months ago but just lately when i lift i barely feel much pump in my right arm (my stronger arm) but i feel a lot of pump in my left. So im just wondering why this is happening?

  26. This article is pretty much one giant contradiction…. I agree with what you said in the beginning, that basically you should base whether or not your workouts are successful by the progress you are making. But then you get into “pump and soreness mean absolutely nothing. Except sometimes they can mean something. But just remember they mean absolutely nothing.” Make up your mind guy. To simplify this, a pump is an indicator that you are engaging (or not engaging) the targeted muscle group. Soreness is also an indicator depending on your goal. If your goal is primarily strength gains then no you’re right, soreness isn’t going to be the best factor to tell you if your making the progress you’re wanting. The weight itself is going to be what you need to pay attention to. However, if your primary goal is hypertrophy then yes, soreness is definitely a strong indicator of whether you’re going hard enough or even too hard. Hypertrophy being muscle growth, is initiated by tearing muscle fibers after all, which is going to make you feel sore. I think you had the right idea in your article (mostly anyway) but your writing is pretty indecisive.

    • That’s the thing, though. It comes across “indecisive” because there is no truly decisive answer. Pump/soreness don’t matter in many ways but still can matter in certain other ways. It’s not black and white, and I wrote this article to make that clear.

      Also, here’s a study that shows the last part of what you said isn’t as true as you think.

  27. Is it okay if your working out monday upper, tuesday lower, thursday upper, friday lower AND do 200 push ups throughout the day everyday? I heard I will halt my strength progression, I want to be strong not freakishly big. Just wanted to check with you on this

    Thanks man your websites the tits

  28. How does one gain this magical ability to comfortably sit on a toilet after leg day. As someone who does your muscle building routine I call shenanigans.

  29. Hi Jay,

    very informative, thank you! I’ve been wondering about this, so I did what I always do when I have questions about lifting -> Google -> “aworkoutroutine + whateverIHaveAQuestionAbout”.

    Since I’ve started with your beginner program a couple of months ago I’m seeing progress as the goal is fat loss and eventually looking “more toned” (ha). I’ve been losing weight consistently every week, but that’s probably because I’m on a caloric deficit anyway. I NEVER feel sore after and most of the time it also doesn’t feel like my muscles are actually doing something. The only time I ever felt sore after was when I had a session with a personal trainer and when I didn’t stick to your program and did more than I should (had to try ay). Now, I know my form isn’t that great, maybe even real bad. I find it hard to improve my form without any feedback from anyone but myself. So I’ve been thinking of working out with a PT, just to improve my form, but I haven’t had good experiences in the past. I’m wondering what else I can do to improve, besides watching tons of YouTube videos and browsing your website. Or does ” practice makes perfect” go for this?

  30. About three years ago, I had just given birth to my first kid when a month later, one of my husband’s Army work buddies convinced me into going to the gym with him. He was a complete gym rat, going every single day for five days straight, 2-3 hours each day, resting on the final two days if he felt inclined. He was an ectomorph like you, I think–waaay skinny frame despite all the food and hours at the gym. Anyways, as you can imagine, I became extremely sore after every workout…but it never went away. I was literally in tears trying to go down stairs or do simple arm/leg movements for everyday tasks. We trained this way for almost two months, and I never really stopped being sore. I felt there was something wrong with it, but I trusted him because–well–that’s how he did it, and he could do crazy lifts, so it must be the way it’s done, right? But finally I couldn’t take the hours away from my newborn and husband, and all the soreness along with it. Not to mention, the guilt he always drove home when I tried to back out of gym sessions. So I wrote him a long-winded message saying I didn’t think it was the right time in my life to work out. Right after that, I got pregnant again with my second kid. After I gave birth to him, I decided I’d rather lose weight than buy a bunch of fat clothes…so I Google’d around, and that’s when I found your blog 🙂 As simple as the “calories in, calories out” concept is, it was completely mind-blowing when I read your version of it, because you explained it in such a dumbed-down way that it made perfect sense. And I lost the 45 pounds of baby weight in a matter of months, just by cutting calories 🙂 🙂 🙂 So thank you, Jay! I recently started trying to workout on our Bowflex at home, only to read your article that says you should wait until you are lean enough before building muscle. My upper body is extremely thin–ribs and collarbone protrude–yet I have all this fat on my thighs/tummy/love handles. And those are the exact places I want to be showing muscle! So, that is my goal now. I’m 5’4″, 123 pounds, female…People actually gave me a lot of crap for going on a diet before–they actually thought I had some mental problem for wanting to be as thin as I was pre-pregnancy. So now that I appear to be really skinny to others, I plan to keep this diet hush-hush from friends and family. My bio family (I was adopted) are all insanely skinny, while my adopted family are all very overweight. So I have genetics set up for being a twig, but a lifetime of grossly overeating at every meal; I just need to change my eating habits, and I can get lean enough to finally build some muscle and get an awesome butt and wear some yoga pants in public, just because I’ll look good in them!!! Anyways–thank you so much for all your help; I’m still on the journey, but I’d still be miles behind if I hadn’t found your blog when I did. Thank you 🙂

    • Extremely happy to hear it Jess! Congrats on the impressive fat loss progress… glad the website has helped in any way with making it happen!

      Just one small thing… you should definitely do some form of strength training now/before getting “lean enough” because a) it will ensure that you (at the very least) maintain the muscle and strength you currently have while losing fat, and b) if you are new to strength training, you will have the ability to gain muscle WHILE losing fat… at least for a little while.

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