When it comes to the pain felt during and after weightlifting, you have to differentiate between a good “burn” and a bad “burn” to avoid injuring your muscles or joints.
It is also important to rest between weightlifting sessions so that your muscles have time to repair.
In regard to pain, most of the time your gut instinct is correct. When you weight train you “feel the burn” and it feels good.
You know you are doing the right thing for your body and you are enjoying it.
You also know when you feel a burn that does not feel so good. It sets off the “uh-oh” indicator in your head. When this happens, you need to give your body downtime to recuperate before pushing on.
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The Good Burn of Weight Training
When you decide to begin weight training you are working various muscles to strengthen them.
In the process of weight training and building your muscles, your metabolism naturally releases lactic acid into your system.
Lactic acid is how your body converts glucose into energy during your workout. While it is completely natural and safe, it can cause a burning sensation that many people attribute as the “good burn” of a workout.
The burning sensation can begin during your workout, but usually, it occurs and subsides within 24 hours of your exercise program.
While the lactic acid is responsible for the weight-training burn, it is not related to the muscle soreness that also occurs after working out.
Muscle Soreness After Weight Training
During weight training, you break down muscles with microscopic tears. While this is a natural part of weight training, it can cause soreness for up to 48 hours after your workout is complete.
It is caused by the increase of white blood cells and other anti-inflammatory natural remedies that your body produces to tend to the torn muscles.
The soreness you feel after a workout is your body’s way of telling you that is it rebuilding the muscle, helping it strengthen and grow.
It is very important for all of your muscle groups to have some period of recovery before you work them out again, and the soreness is nature’s way of telling you to take it easy.
You can weight train while you are sore and push through the pain, but if you overwork your muscles, you will have the opposite effect of what you were trying to achieve.
Instead, let your muscles recover and use your downtime to work on different muscles or focus on cardio training.
In the meantime, there are some things you can do to relieve the normal muscle soreness you feel after weight training. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be reduced with proper stretching before and after every weight training session. Watch the video below for more info on muscle recovery:
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While it’s important not to overwork your muscles, it is important not to over-nurture them either. Use your muscles gently throughout the day following your workout.
You will feel the soreness, but keeping your muscles moving will help the soreness go away faster than if you let your muscles atrophy.
Additionally, you can use ice or heat to ease your aching muscles. Massage can also help and some people use muscle relaxants to temporarily relieve the pain.
Since muscle soreness is completely normal after weight training, you do not have to worry about the pain. Just give yourself time to heal by weight training every other day and allowing your muscles to rebuild.
The Bad Burn of Weight Training
When you are weight training and experience a good burn sensation, then you don’t usually have to worry.
However, if you have any sudden unexplained pain during your workout or if your muscle soreness does not go away after resting for a couple of days, then you may need to consult with a physician.
If you workout incorrectly you can injure a tendon or your rotator cuff. These pains can be excruciating, getting worse as time goes on.
If your injuries prevent you from doing everyday tasks then you may need professional treatment.
In order to avoid injuring your muscles during weight training, warm up properly, stretch your muscles before and after your workout, and fuel your body with proper nutrition.
A personal trainer can also help you learn how to work out correctly to reduce the risk of injury.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Should I weight train in the morning or evening?
Some studies have shown that lifting weights in the early evening is more beneficial because cortisol levels are lower. With that being said, the best time to weight train is when you feel the most energized and/or have the time to do so.
Are free weights better than machines?
Free weights are better for an overall workout than machines as they require the use of more stabilizer muscles; however, machines are a great addition to a well-rounded exercise routine.
When should I go up in weight?
If your last couple of reps can be done easily and quickly (with good form), then it’s time to increase the weight of your lifts.
Is a weightlifting belt necessary?
A weightlifting belt should only be worn when it’s absolutely necessary — like when you have a very heavy load on your back.
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