Can you still work out with sore muscles?

Working out sore muscles?

We all get sore, even those individuals who have been working out for a while. We can be as smart with our training as possible and still feel the pain of a tired muscle. It can be the day after or a couple of days after that we’ll experience soreness. Well what if your next scheduled workout comes and you’re still feeling sore? Can you work out a sore muscle? Short answer, depends.

When we experience muscle soreness, it is the body trying to repair the muscle tissue that has been broken down. This soreness can range from minor discomfort to severe discomfort. We have to determine how sore we are if we want to work out the same muscles. If you are feeling slight discomfort, lighter resistance should be used as well as some lighter, low impact cardio. This ensures that blood and oxygen are getting to those sore muscles and speeding up the healing process. In fact, I always recommend some light cardio a day after a lift to help in the recovery process. If you are experiencing any more discomfort than this, by all means, rest. Further damage can be caused. If we keep pushing our bodies hard without proper recovery we can overreach. This can lead to overtraining and actually decrease our performance (see my article on the Law of Accommodation). This overtraining can lead to an increased heart rate, depression, illness, injury, fatigue, insomnia, decreased appetite, or worsening performance.

Fortunately, we can avoid this overtraining. By using a combination of recovery strategies such as myofascial release and sleep as well as splitting your training up we can reduce the likelihood of overtraining. Splitting up your workout so you aren’t doing the same muscle groups or the same loads on the same muscle group can help you to organize your training. For example, if you go to the gym twice a week, do an anterior/posterior split. There is only one proper split out there. That’s the one that works best for you.



Sean Willitts is an ACE certified personal trainer. He graduated from Kutztown University in 2015 with a bachelor’s is sport management and a minor in fitness. Including training at Body Elite, he is also a record holding powerlifter. He uses his practical experience and knowledge to help his clients achieve their strength and fitness goals.