Q&A: Soreness and Recovery Time


I appreciate all the helpful information in your blog. I understand that experiencing soreness is not important as far as a determinant of a successful workout. The question then, is it an indicator of the least amount I should rest before the next workout?

I currently train HIT as taught by Mike Mentzer (3 to 4 exercises per workout, mostly compound movements with roughly 7 days of rest between workouts). I always experience soreness and it persists for a good 4 days. For example I trained legs and torso on Tuesday and my quads/abs are still sore. I would like to train twice a week, but my next workout has deadlifts (so in my mind it seems counterproductive to train before the soreness has gone away). Does this concern have merit or would I be ok to attempt the next workout after 3 – 4  days of rest even if I’m still sore in bodyparts that are involved in the exercises of that workout?


You are correct that soreness is not an indicator of exercise or workout effectiveness. Although most people experience some degree of muscular burning during and soreness shortly after exercise it varies considerably between individuals, between muscle groups, and over time.

Likewise, the presence or degree of delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS – usually experienced from two to four days after a workout – is not an indicator of workout recovery. You can experience DOMS and have recovered enough to work out again productively, or you can have little or no muscle soreness at all but still need more rest days. The best way to determine how much recovery time you need between workouts is to keep accurate records on workout charts or in a training journal. Assuming you are training intensely enough, keeping your workouts brief, and getting adequate nutrition and rest you should be making consistent progress. If not you may need to increase recovery time between workouts.

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