That Was A Great Workout! (Or Was It?)

I don’t know where the notion came from, but people seem to think that if they aren’t crazy sore the day after a training session, then the session wasn’t tough enough.  Conversely, they are convinced that if they have a hard time sitting down for potty time or washing their hair the day after, then they must have had a great workout.

Let me just come right out and say it-neither of these concepts hold any water.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

-A few months ago I had a client have a great session.  She set a deadlift PR, added 8 push ups to her three set total from the week before, and all around crushed everything she touched in the gym that day.

I saw her two days later and commented on the great job she did in our previous session.  With disappointment in her voice she said, “Yeah, but I wasn’t sore at all and I really thought I worked hard.”

That’s when I karate kicked her in the face…metaphorically speaking.


The mere fact that she set a new PR should have made the session great for her, let alone everything else she did.  But just because she wasn’t struggling to move the next day, she was unhappy with her efforts.

-When I first started training, I also worked a few hours at the front desk at the club I train out of, Fit For Life.  I remember designing a logo for a run the club had sponsored, and I had to color in the logo by moving the mouse back and forth like you would color with a crayon.  The whole thing took me about 3 hours, but it was fun, OH LET ME TELL YOU IT WAS FUN!!!! 

The next day, my right triceps hurt like crazy.  By some people’s logic I got a great workout for my triceps.  Forget push, ups, shoulder presses and dips…all I need is a mouse and a logo to color!*

Are you seeing my point?  The logic behind soreness being an indicator of good or bad session doesn’t pan out.

Now don’t hear (or read) me wrong and think that I’m saying if you’re sore you didn’t get a good workout and vice versa.  The problem is when being sore makes or breaks things for an individual. 

Instead, you should focus on what you accomplished.

-Did you get more reps or more weight on the bar? 

-Did you push yourself more than you did the previous week? 

-Did you include all the elements you wanted to (foam rolling, strength training, metabolic work, etc.)?

These are the gauges you should use to measure the efficacy of your sessions, not soreness.

If you can answer yes to any, or all, of those questions, then be happy with your efforts despite whether or not you have to free fall to the toilet the next day.

*This statement has been frosted with low-carb chocolate sarcasm.

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