The subtitle to this article should be, “And, why it doesn’t matter.” Many fitness practitioners chase the feeling of soreness as if it were a marker of a job well done. In reality, it might mean you’ve worked hard in training, but not always.
In order to dispel the myth that if you’re not sore your training doesn’t count, we’ll have to understand how we get sore in the first place. Soreness is a reaction to the breakdown of the muscle tissue. That sounds dramatic, but muscles need to breakdown in order to grow. Now, that being said, you need to understand that muscles contract in three types of ways: isometric, concentric, and eccentric.
Isometric: HOLDING STILL (Force produced = Force opposed). This is characteristic of the working muscle actively hold constant length during the work.
Concentric: LIFTING THE LOAD (Force Produced > Force Opposed). This is characteristic of the working muscle actively shortening during the work.
Eccentric: LOWERING THE LOAD (Force Produced < Force Opposed). This is characteristic of the working muscle actively lengthening during the work.
All you need to know for now is that all three types of contractions show up in your training, especially in your general physical preparedness (GPP) training. While many movements you likely do have both eccentric and concentric action, some movements are particularly rich in concentric loading or eccentric loading. Eccentrics are where the most muscle damage occurs. For this reason body builders specifically use eccentric loading to target and grow muscles. This type of loading is particularly good at making us sore.
While you can train plenty hard (and get plenty fit) doing sled pushes and rope pulls, for example, they have virtually no eccentric loading and workouts that can push you to the brink rarely come with the kind of soreness that lots of volume lunges, squats, and pull ups do (with their eccentricity heavy loading).
Divorce yourself from the need to be sore. I’d rather you chase performance rather than chasing soreness. After all, your soreness is almost mutually exclusive from your ability to get fit.
Complete 3 rounds for quality:
:50 Handstand Hold
Then, AMRAP 10
6 Push Presses (135/95)
18 KB Swings (70/53)
At 10:00, take 8 minutes to find a heavy set for:
2 Full Cleans