Some people are more prone to suffering with muscle soreness (DOMS) than others, I myself am particularly prone to suffering with soreness. You may also suffer with delayed muscle soreness if your muscles are not accustomed to exercise or resistance training. The soreness tends to reduce over time with repetition, however it may never completely go.
Many people believe if they are sore the day after their workout they they are going to make gains. However delayed muscle soreness doesn’t actually indicate that you triggered muscle growth or that you even had a very beneficial workout.
Why doesn’t DOMS indicate a productive workout?
Whether you suffer from muscle soreness or not is largely dependent on the exercises that you perform rather than the amount of effort you exert during the exercise. Some exercises for example, chest flyes will almost always cause delayed soreness even if only moderate effort and resistance is used during the exercise. This is because of the stretching action during the movement of the exercise.
You could perform 3 sets of chest flyes with only a moderate effort and several hours later you could suffer with severe soreness in the pectorals, yet you could perform 4 heavy sets of the bench press training to failure on each set with only very little or less soreness suffered with after. It’s fairly obvious which of the two examples will be the most beneficial yet the soreness will be less by performing the benchpress yet it will get better results.
Certain exercises are fantastic for muscular development, yet from a personal point of view suffering with delayed soreness with certain exercises is rare. Example exercises include Bicep Curls, Pull Ups and Lat Pull Downs. It’s also rare to suffer with soreness in the Shoulders.
Most shoulder exercises don’t allow for the type of muscle movement and stretch which normally causes delayed soreness. So no matter how hard you train your shoulders it’s unlikely that you’ll suffer with DOMS, especially if you’re a regular lifter.
There are many exercises and variations of those exercises that can trigger (DOMS) but they’re not necessarily the most effective exercises for reaching your goals. (DOMS) shouldn’t be used as a guide to whether or not you had a productive workout.
However DOMS can still be a useful indicator. If you’re trying to target a certain muscle and that muscle becomes sore several hours later then you have successfully targeted that particular muscle, which is an indicator that you have performed the exercise properly. So delayed soreness can be useful, just don’t rely on it as an indicator of you having a productive muscle building workout.