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  • Writer's pictureTrang Nguyen

Do you need to get sore after strength training?

There's a general belief that DOMs is a good indicator of a 'successful' gym session. But is this true?

Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is muscle soreness & reduced muscle strength that can occur 24-72 hours after training. It's a sign of "muscle damage" caused by intense, unaccustomed activity.

A 2011 study by Flann et al examined this exact question. The study compared two groups doing resistance training with the same workload. The first group was exposed to a 'muscle damage' regime causing muscle soreness, and the other group was protected from muscle soreness via gradual exposure to training. In the end, both groups achieved identical muscle strength and growth as each other.

Although DOMS is often perceived as an indicator of a good workout, it is NOT associated with either muscle strength or growth. This challenges the notion of "No pain, no gain".

In fact, runners should avoid excessive DOMS. Regular DOMS is counterproductive as it causes fatigue & disruption to key running sessions.

Ways to avoid DOMS

  • Strength train consistently, ideally more than once a week

  • Increase reps/sets & weights gradually across multiple weeks

  • Avoid changing exercises too frequently

  • Avoid doing sets to "failure"

But if you do go a bit overboard, read our previous blog here on how to manage DOMS

If you need help on how to structure your training, don't hesitate to contact us!


  • Flann, Kyle L., et al. "Muscle damage and muscle remodeling: no pain, no gain?." Journal of Experimental Biology 214.4 (2011): 674-679.

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