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Ponderer983's avatar

Do you have to get sore in order to gain muscle?

Asked by Ponderer983 (6401 points ) March 18th, 2012

As stated. Do you gain muscle without getting sore? If so, how do you know you are gaining it?

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18 Answers

saint's avatar

Soreness depends on lots of variables. Stretching, hydration, use of certain suppliments, as well as duration and intensity of exercise. But sure, you can gain muscle without getting sore.

Nullo's avatar

You can gain muscle without getting sore. The simplest method is to not push yourself as hard. Takes a lot longer, though.

Cruiser's avatar

Soreness is a sign you over did it, you didn’t stretch, dehydration and not enough rest between workouts and you can gain muscles without any of the above.

Ponderer983's avatar

@saint @Nullo @Cruiser If you don’t get sore, then how do you know you did enough to gain muscle?

funkdaddy's avatar

I think it may be possible theoretically but practically, if your goal is to gain muscle in a reasonable time frame then at some points you’re going to be sore.

Honestly if you haven’t gone for a hike, swam, or pulled weeds from your yard in a while you’ll be sore afterwards doing those things for the first time. If you’re trying to gain muscle, you’re trying to push your body and make it adapt, you should at some point be doing something you haven’t done in a while.

It only makes sense that it would make you sore.

SavoirFaire's avatar

No, you do not have to get sore to gain muscle. In fact, working out to the point that you are sore the next day means you operated past peak efficiency and will end up gaining less muscle from that work out than had you stopped a little sooner. The same is true of stopping too soon, of course, though at least that doesn’t come with pain. You will never know, however, that you are gaining muscle just from the sensations in your body. You can track your long-term results and see that you have gained muscle, and you can know that you are following a program that will build muscle when followed correctly, but you cannot feel your muscles growing.

This is not to say that there are no physical indicators during your workout that can tell you whether or not you’re being efficient. One common recommendation—though by no means universal, and the subject of some controversy regarding method—is to exercise to the point of failure. The notion of “failure,” however,” is not always understood properly. It’s not the point of pain, of exhaustion, or of no longer being able to do the exercise. It’s the point of no longer being able to do the exercise properly. Anyone can get a few extra bicep curls in if they recruit other muscle groups to help, but that’s not the point of the exercise (and will likely lead to soreness).

You also need to know the correct way to determine weight and repetitions. Exercising to the point of failure is a lot different depending on whether you are lifting 15 pounds or 150 pounds. Figuring all of this out and coming up with a workout plan that fits your goals often requires the help of a trainer who can give you advice tailored to you. You don’t necessarily have to hire someone to work with you every week. One or two sessions to develop a program and teach you how to track your own progress will suffice if you are self-motivated enough. So while you may need some expert help, you won’t be reliant upon it forever.

saint's avatar

@Ponderer983 If you move your muscles against resistance, and you are properly nourished, not sick and not so old that you are way low on testosterone, they will get bigger. You can fine tune the process by using more weight, more reps, etc but over a period of time, they will get bigger. Alot of what is implied in your question is how long does it take, how bulky do you want to be etc. But if you move them regularly against resistance, muscles get bigger. Big weight, low reps will build more mass faster but it also increases your chances of injury, some types of which are permanent and will take you out of the exercise arena. And you may get sore. Lower weight, more reps will also build muscle mass, but you will not be as bulky, and it will take a little longer to get the result. Regular repetions, with moderate resistance will, over time, create a result. Having done it every way you can imagine, I recommend moderate weight, plenty of reps and do it often and be patient. Nothing more frustrating than damaging a knee or a rotator cuff in the name of getting big guns quick.

funkdaddy's avatar

So, as an aside that may be helpful to the OP, has anyone here ever started training for something new and not gotten sore when starting out?

saint's avatar

If one has never done anything, and starts off cold, one will probably get sore. :)

Cruiser's avatar

@Ponderer983 Everything depends on your fitness goal and age. You can add muscle just doing isometrics with no weights. I “older” and do not need massive bulk and work out with maximum of 50 lbs. I pyramid my workouts with a lot of reps starting with 10 lbs and up to 50 lbs and back down to 10 lbs. After 80 -100 reps my muscles are pooped, have had one hell of a workout and not sore.

Soreness too is also caused from lactic acid that builds up in muscles as they are exerted and if you do not stretch after a workout to help eliminate this lactic acid build up, you will be sore for sure.

Ponderer983's avatar

I’m not looking to get bulky; I am a woman just working out to get healthier. I just want to get to a point where my muscle tone is good for my age and increase muscle so that I lose more weight. I lost a lot of muscle after an injury that didn’t allow me to work out for an extended period of time, and in conjunction gained weight. I want to get to a place where I feel healthy. I was asking because i worked out with a medicine ball yesterday and did the workout I was doing before the injury, and I am incredibly sore. And while I know I gained some muscle, I wish I wasn’t this sore. But sometimes, the only way I feel I accomplished something is to feel the results.

Cruiser's avatar

@Ponderer983 To me it sounds as thought your memory of your workouts is sharper than what your muscles remember they were able to do and to be expected when you have a long break from working out. I would just ease back into the routine with scaled back workouts and allow for about 3 weeks conditioning your muscles before you can “hit it” they way you used to. Pain or soreness is not to be ignored and simply honor your body with what it is telling you it is ready to do!

gondwanalon's avatar

See what expert celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak says about No pain, no gain

I never knew that stretching before a workout can actually facilitate injury. I’ve exercised consistently for >30 years. No wonder my muscle are frequently sore after hard workouts and races.

Good luck!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@gondwanalon It all depends on how you stretch. Dynamic stretching can be quite beneficial before a workout.

JLeslie's avatar

No. If you stretch properly after exercise you should not get sore, unless you have really overdone it. Overdoing is not good. Stretching before does nothing for soreness, it can help avoid injury, unless you injure yourself while stretching, which would be a possibility for me I am not limber at all. I never stretch before starting exercise.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, but when working out in a gym the final 30 seconds on a weight machine should be hard and a bit unpleasant. This will help you gain muscles in the following hours and days. Most of the time you won’t get sore especially when you follow the advice of the gym instructors.

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