A Simple Trick for Minimizing Soreness and Enhancing Recovery

soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be a nasty result of training hard and heavy. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to learn several methods for reducing the effects of this ever-present companion, resulting in less discomfort following a hard workout.

Most will agree that the day after the day after, two days after the training session, is the worst when it comes to muscle soreness. This is especially true if you are coming off of a layoff, or have recently made changes to your training routine such as a new rep scheme or a new exercise. While I’ve often stated that muscular soreness is not the best indicator of effective training, it is highly likely if you are hitting it hard.

Basically, if you aren’t getting sore, you’re probably not training hard enough.

Here is my favorite method for combating DOMS:

Let’s say that today is Bench Press day. You go to the gym, warm up the movement, and bust out three hard, working sets using the tried and true “Greyskull LP” base method. Today you used 235 lbs for your work weight and pushed through two sets of five, followed by your all-out rep max set, on which you grinded out eight solid reps. The last one was a nasty one, and your training partner assisted you on one forced rep after you had finished the clean ones.

You feel a pump like no other through your upper body, but in the back of your mind you just know that you’re going to be one sore monster in the making come Sunday.

What I want you to do is hit the gym, garage, basement, or wherever you have access to some basic equipment tomorrow (the day after training), and knock out a few (2-3) sets of 20 reps on the bench press with a relatively light set of dumbbells. Assuming the 235 lb working weight, I’d shoot for something in the 40-50 lb range for the bells.

I can sit here and talk about lactic acid, and pushing blood into the muscle, and active stretching, and all of that, but none of those theories are nearly as valuable as this simple fact:

You will be much less sore the following day.

This same method can be used for virtually any strength training movement. Simply perform the movement again the day after, with a much lighter weight, and for about 40-50 easy reps. You can incorporate this into your warmup if it is also a training day, or treat is a stand-alone component of your overall training regimen.

For the squat, load the bar with something very easy, as in first warmup easy, something like 95 lb, or maybe 135 lb if you’re a bit stronger, and knock out a few sets of 15-20 easy reps.

For the press, grab some light dumbbells and knock out some seated or standing presses using the same basic guidelines.

For the Deadlift, I find sled drags to work the best, but you can do a few sets of back extensions on a 45 degree bench, or GHD if your soreness is more in your lower back, or if you do not have access to a sled. That is not to say that the deadlift itself can’t be used with a lighter weight as the recovery exercise as in the other movements, I’ve just found that the deadlift is the one movement for which those other exercises work better to minimize the soreness (probably because of it’s lack of an eccentric component).

Try this out this coming week, and drop me a line to let me know if you’re not much less sore on the second day after your training.

Look for more interesting tips like this in my upcoming book “By the Power: The Ultimate Guide to the Greyskull Methods” which is available for preorder here with some awesome bonuses, and is rapidly nearing release.

Keep grinding, and keep growing.

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