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Is it Ok to Work Out with Sore Muscles

muscle sore

Is it ok to work out with sore muscles? YES! In fact, a certain type of soreness should be your goal as you’re trying to build muscle.

It’s important to know the difference between Pain and Soreness.

Pain is bad, Soreness is good.

It’s a signal from your body that there is a real problem. If you feel genuine pain, you should immediately stop and tend to it.

Soreness is different. I like to think of it as a “pumped up” feeling in your muscles. It’s a signal that the process of hypertrophy is taking place. Blood is rushing into your muscle to flush out waste and bring nutrients to repair the microscopic damage your training has done to the target muscle fibers.

That’s what you’re to training to accomplish, and the pumped feeling is a sign that it is happening.

If you’re just starting out to build muscle, this sore feeling may be new to you. You may mistake it for pain. So how do you tell the difference? Tough question to explain if you’ve never felt the soreness pump before. 


Pain causes a sharp sensation in your joints or muscles. It makes movement difficult. This could be due to an actual strain in the muscle. This could limit your ability to move and send a sharp pain signal when you try.

Muscle strains generally heal themselves, but should not be aggravated by more training. If the sensation lasts more than a couple days and continues to cause you great discomfort, it might be time to see a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor. That sounds like Pain.


Soreness is more of a dull, swollen sensation in your targeted muscles. It can happen the same day as the workout, or even a day or two later. You’re feeling the ‘burn’ as lactic acid builds up in your muscle due to taking it to failure against resistance. You will see it referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.

No Pain, No Gain?

In the old days of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger was famous for saying “No Pain, No Gain.” Taken literally, that statement is just flat out wrong. No Pain Ever is our motto.

But to be fair to Arnold, what he was trying to say is that muscle growth doesn’t happen without Hypertrophy. And that’s the process of causing microscopic damage to targeted muscle fibers so that the body’s natural healing process builds them back again just a bit stronger than before.

That’s a mouthful. And it doesn’t rhyme like ‘no pain, no gain.’ But I believe that is what he actually meant to convey.

If you’ve trained before or are currently, you probably know how to tell the difference. It’s going to be more difficult if you’re new to putting your muscles to work. But don’t let soreness deter you. 

The best medicine for genuine soreness is to keep staying active and doing your workouts.

Learn to associate that feeling as the “pump” you’re aiming to create and recognize it as a sign you’re efforts are paying off.

For more perspective, check one of my favorite resources, Web MD.

And for more of my take on the Muscle Pump, check this out.

Ever been sore after a workout? What are your thoughts on Pain vs the Pump? Please share below or drop me a line at:

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