Should You Workout If Your Muscles Are Sore?

Have you ever woke up really sore from a workout that you did the day before, and then have to workout again that day? If your muscles are sore should you skip your workout, or just keep training?

How Muscles Become Sore

Usually when you start a new routine your muscles get really sore, because you are doing different exercises and using muscles that you are not used to using. Also if it’s been a few weeks since your last workout, your muscles will get really sore as well because they haven’t been used in a few weeks.

When your body gets used to a certain workout, your muscle soreness tends to ease off. This workout that made you really sore when you started doing it no longer seems to have a big impact. That’s when you might start to question if what you are doing in the gym is actually helping you.

Are you training hard enough? Do you need to switch it up so you get sore again? If a muscle feels sore it is because you damaged it. Most people think the more sore you are, the better. When it is repaired, the damaged muscle will become bigger and stronger, right?

Not exactly.

Sore Muscles (DOMS)

First of all, nerve fibers transmit the sensation of delayed-onset 800px-thumbnail
muscle soreness (DOMS). Those fibers are mainly found in the connective tissue between your muscle fibers, and are also in the junction between the tendon and muscle.

So DOMS stems from the connective tissue that helps bind muscle fibers together, rather than just the muscle fibers themselves.

There is a link between DOMS and damage to muscle cells. You can’t tell how damaged your muscles are by just relying on your muscle soreness. Your Glutes may feel so sore after a leg workout that you can’t sit on the toilet without wincing in pain. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve created a significant level of muscle damage.

On the other hand, if you feel little or no soreness that doesn’t mean your muscles didn’t get damaged from your workout.

It also depends on your genetics, because everyone is different and respond to workouts differently. Research has shown a significant amount of variability in individuals and how much damage they get from exercise. This means that if you workout with someone and do the exact same workout as them, you might be a lot more sore than your partner or not as sore as them.

Should You Workout Sore Muscles?

There’s no reason why you cant work out sore muscles, as long as you don’t work then every single day.Crunch

However, if you’re constantly training a muscle that feels sore, you need to change it up. You may be training too hard or doing an exercise incorrectly.

If you’re lifting but not improving your muscles, or are getting “burned out” this post is for you. There are a variety of workouts on this website that you can do to mix it up! If you workout every day, I would rotate working out your large muscle groups. Like do a leg day, then an upper body day, etc. Just don’t work your legs every day, they need recovery.


You can use amino acids before, during, or after the workout to help recover your muscles better and faster. ALWAYS get at least 20-30 grams of protein after your workouts! Click the links for more information on these supps!


Recovery is the most important thing to do when keeping active. You need at LEAST one or Stretchingtwo days of recovery each week! (do yoga or do nothing)

Your muscles need time to rebuild. It will make you stronger, healthier, and give you more energy. Foam roll before and stretch after the workout! For an example click here.

For more information and my recommended equipment, check out the Cardio Training and Strength Training pages.

Live Well and Live On,


This article has 14 Comments

  1. Oh I’m glad you have answered this question. I have been wondering. I go a lot of hula hooping. Sometimes I end up a bit sore after an intense session, especially if I am learning a new trick. I usually end up having a day off (against my better wishes just because I don’t want to risk making myself any more sore.

    I was once told that you should only work out heavily twice a week. What is your opinion on this?

    1. You can lift heavy about 2-3 times a week. I usually just do a total body workout 3 days a week, and cardio twice a week. But if you are working out every day, you need to separate your muscle groups. Like upper body one day and lower body the next.

      As long as you are getting at least 1-2 days of recovery each week, you will be fine 🙂

  2. I have always wondered if you were supposed to push through your sore muscles. After reading this, I gather that it is not exactly the case. Whenever I am working out, I always am incredibly sore (because I don’t do it enough). I guess it is just my muscles saying that they were hurt/damaged. Thank you so much for the info.

  3. Hello Karissa, I tried to share but your twitter and fb links seem to be broken or it could just be on my end. I’m glad I came across your site it gave me some added motivation. I love your philosophy and your workouts and nutrition advice. You seem like a pretty genuine and caring person and really enjoy what you do. Like you said you have been active since you were a child. I exercise of and on but to stay motivated, ugh…. Well thank you for sharing your passion with us know let me go clean the clothes off my elliptical…tomorrow…Monday, yes Monday sounds good lol…I’ll get there I am sure 

    1. Lol, yes.. The sooner you get started the better. Anything you can do for 21 days straight becomes a habit!

      Thank you for the comment 🙂

  4. Great article!! I love how you not only map out all the specific functions of DOMS, but you also go into such great detail explaining how sore muscles are not a great indicator of a good workout.
    As a personal trainer, I have a difficult time finding quality, informative informative content for my clients to read. I will definitely be sending them to your page.

  5. Good explanation on DOMS and how to mitigate too much of it. What are your thoughts on the Bulgarian Style of training, particularly the Olympic Weightlifters? They training every single day and use those same muscles on a daily basis, doing maxes on a frequent basis. This goes against what we know to be safe and effective, but it seem to work really well for them.

    1. It may be ffective, but I have a feeling they will have issues with their bodies as they age. They are also at risk for a disease that can deteriorate your muscles, because it can happen when you lift WAY too much.

      You only need to max out about once a month to measure progress. You can probably do it every day, but in the long run you will run into problems.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Live Well and Live On,


  6. You did a great job answering this question. I know when I first begin working out after a long hiatus, I can sometimes be sore for a whole week. Usually I avoid working those muscles out of fear of doing serious damage to them. Now I know as long as I’m not over training them I can still work them out. Thanks for the great article!!

  7. This is great – thank you! I’ve recently been getting into fitness… well, for the past couple months, but everytime I try some new routine… I get incredibly sore, and I think that’s why I switch routines so fast is because my muscles are sore. But I haven’t really noticed much change, and I guess that’s because I haven’t been taking rest days.

    Perhaps I should just stick to one routine for a while, WITH rest days in between… and then let my muscles recover and get stronger.

    Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    1. No problem!

      Yes it will really help if you rest and give your muscles time to recover. Also continue to challenge yourself. You can only get better!

      Keep at it! 🙂

      – Karissa

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