For reasons I don’t fully understand (nor does the science), when you start the quest of becoming a hard-core workout warrior you also start experiencing post-exercise muscle soreness aka delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

And so every time you go to the gym, you come out of it as an S-shaped bag of pain that thinks weight lifting sucks.

Now, I’m fully aware that you don’t want to spend the rest of the day reading about the hypothesized theories of why DOMS occurs or what role inflammation plays here. The unit of time you want to spend on all that is probably so small that it doesn’t exist.

So let’s dive into the “how to get rid of DOMS” part.

How to get rid of DOMS?

Errr, you don’t. Clinically, DOMS is a common but self-limiting condition that usually requires no treatment (source) because most treatment strategies — cryotherapy, stretching, low-intensity exercise, massage guns, anti-inflammatory drugs, massage (small effect) — suck at reducing DOMS ( source 1, 2).

Time is the only treatment — DOMS goes away on its own in one to three days:

Time course of muscle soreness following different types of exercise
by Andrew J Vickers

So there is no treatment for DOMS. But you can get in front of it so that it doesn’t leave you with a lot of swearing when getting out of bed. The best thing you can do is to stop training like a maniac all day errday: 

  • Stop training to failure all the time — failure training needs to be used with a purpose if used at all. Instead, train anywhere between 0-5 reps in reserve.

  • Stop doing 10 different exercises for the same muscle group each workout. Instead, depending on the workout split you follow, do 1-4 different exercises for the same muscle group per workout (read more about exercise selection).

  • Stop changing your workout routine too often because the novelty factor plays a significant role in kicking your ass. ‘Muscle confusion’ is not a thing. The IQ of people who claim otherwise is somewhere between the amoeba and the sloth so instead of taking their words for it, stick to your current workout routine for AT LEAST three months. Get used to it. Adapt. And progress.

  • Don’t cram too many eccentric exercises into the same workout (exercises that emphasize the muscle lengthening portion of the exercise such as Romanian deadlift, good morning, lunge, etc.). Instead, have a nice balance between the eccentric and concentric exercises — a lunge, barbell hip thrust, Romanian deadlift, cable kickback, etc.

  • Stop hyper-focusing on things that don’t matter — silly massage guns, foam rollers, static stretching, icing, etc. Instead, zero in on things that do matter — time, quality sleep, proper nutrition, and stress management.

Now excuse me, I need to go and brainstorm another topic for a post (which will probably require ingesting a close-to-lethal dose of caffeine) because time is not only less DOMS but also more money.

Any ideas for the next topic?

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Originally published by me on Medium on May 5, 2022

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Max

    Great, to-the-point post, as usual.
    Idea for the next topic: multisport sessions (i.e.: triathlon, mixing two types of cardio like running and jumping rope alternatively)…do those sessions it really have mode benefits than single type cardio?

  2. Egis R.

    Holy crap, hard one!

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