Litfest Special: “Sore Today, Strong Tomorrow” – Harsh Singh

Strength Training and Muscle Soreness

Strength Training leads to damage of muscle fibers as the trained muscles are put under trauma. The muscles go through a repairing phase thereafter and proper diet having sufficient protein sources leads to the rebuilding of damaged muscles. This rebuilding phase may last from 24 to 48 hours after the strength training session.

During the repair phase, the athlete may experience soreness in the trained muscle group. This soreness is also known as DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. If an athlete trains with progressive loading and lifts a little outside the comfort zone by increasing  the volume, he/she will experience soreness or DOMS. Muscle soreness is more pronounced for beginners, when one trains using a new movement, increases load, changes the training schedule with addition of new exercises, increases volume/intensity or increases time under tension.

Soreness or DOMS confirms that the targeted muscle group has been trained with good intensity and the rebuilding phase will lead to hypertrophy and strength gains.

All said, we must identify if the pain . The former gets better with rest, structured and quantified dietary intake, and time, while the latter may aggravate if left untreated and requires medical intervention. ‘Ego lifting’ or lifting beyond one’s capacity with incorrect form and faulty range of motion may lead to such a condition and hence must be avoided.

Ways to counter the effects of muscle soreness:

  • Structured quantified diet with adequate protein intake of 1.5  grams to 1.8 grams per kg bodyweight.


  • Optimal hydration with water intake of around 4 liters. Dehydration may lead to cramps.


  • Adequate sleep of 7 to 8 hours a day is very important as muscles are rebuilt during this resting period.


  • Foam Rolling is often used to provide relief in severity of the soreness.

  • Showers: Some athletes swear by cold showers while others take hot showers, and another set indulges in alternate hot and cold showers for relief. Find what works for you and do it.


  • Repetitions: Diminishing nature of soreness is noted when there is repeated activity in the same muscle group by performing repetitions of the same exercise. Over a period of time, the athlete doing this will have reduced or negligible soreness.


Article Credits – Harsh Singh (Litfest Submission)