I recently got back in to the gym and it has been a struggle. The first week was not fun, with every muscle in my body aching after finishing working out. As Wired points out, which I absolutely can confirm, hitting the gym in January is literal hell on the legs:
But actually that soreness might be the sign of a workout well done. What you’re likely experiencing when your muscles ache the day after a tough gym session is something called DOMS: delayed onset muscle soreness.
When you put your muscles to work, tiny tears appear in the muscle fibres, and it's repairing these tears that leads to inflammation and soreness. DOMS happens after your muscles lengthen under tension, something called eccentric muscle contraction. For example when you’re lowering down a weight and your arm extends slowly, and the muscle tears slightly. It’s also common after downhill running, rock climbing and resistance based exercises.
“We call it the good pain because it shows that your training session was actually quite effective,” says Aamer Sandoo, lecturer in sport and exercise science at Bangor University in Wales. When the muscle repairs those tears, it makes it stronger. With exercise, we're trying to cause trauma to the muscle and the body's response is to make a stronger muscle by depositing more fibres within it.
The good kind of pain. I sure hope whatever I am currently attempting to do in the gym will have a positive effect. To stay motivated I need to see some fairly rapid indication the hard work I am investing in the gym is actually paying dividends towards my ultimate goal of de-beer-belly-ifying!