Workout of the Day

To Be Sore Or Not To Be Sore


As far as training metrics go, soreness is a poor one. Unfortunately, it’s also caught up in the shortsighted “no pain, no gain” posturing that rules much of the fitness world.

The fact of the matter is, some very productive days of training will make you sore, some very productive days of training will not make you sore, and vice versa. Not to mention, the same day of training for two different people can make one person very sore and the other not at all. Soreness, like anything else, is feedback, but it’s not our currency.

Let’s get a quick breakdown of why soreness occurs in the first place.

The soreness you feel in the days after training is a result of muscle tissue breakdown and microtears in the muscle fibers. “Breakdown” and “microtears” sound bad, but this is actually a necessary part of how your muscles get stronger -- fret not! Your body responds to this tissue damage with localized inflammation, a part of the healing and rebuilding process that makes your muscles bigger and stronger. This inflammation is the main cause of soreness.

Different types of training will lead to varying levels of soreness, too. Eccentric movements (muscle lengthening under load, as in the lowering portion of a back squat) causes more muscle damage and therefore more soreness than concentric movements (muscle shortening under load, as in a power clean). This means that while a sled push or a long sprint on the air bike might make your legs burn and feel like jello in the moment, they are unlikely to cause soreness, as there is very little eccentric loading. Conversely, something as simple as a few sets of 5-second negative pull-ups can make you sore enough to struggle to lift your arms the next day. Novel movement patterns are more likely to cause soreness, too (this is why you get sore a lot more often when you’re new to training).

By all means, pay attention to your soreness and understand what it signifies, but don’t make the mistake of holding it up as a lone signal of good training. There are 1,001 things you can do to improve your fitness that won’t make you sore, and even more unproductive things you can do that will make you plenty sore.

- PS


  • Strict weighted pull-ups - 5,5,5,5


  • AMRAP 20

    • 50 cal row

    • 40 walking lunges

    • 30 K2E

    • 20 box jumps (24”/20”)

    • 10 C2B pull-ups