Tired and aching muscles are one of the perceived benefits of a successful training session. Seems strange that these feelings should be associated with success, but it’s a sign that you have worked your body hard and you will reap the benefits (if not at that exact moment, then at some stage in the future!)
Ironically, many people believe that NOT having tired or achy muscles indicates they have wasted the session or not trained hard enough. It seems perverse, but for many, the more tired your body feels the better you feel about yourself and the training session! To put your mind at rest, not aching after training is not a bad thing! Many people stay within their normal exercise levels, but still, give the body and heart a good work-out. They are tired in themselves, but there is little or no achy muscles.
So, what is the science behind tired and achy muscles, and is it true that the more you ‘hurt’ after a session then the better you should feel about yourself? And if that is ok, then is there anything you should do to speed recovery? Lots of questions, I know.
Let’s start with what actually happens during exercise or a training session. Regardless of whether its CV or lifting weights, your muscles are called upon to work harder. They need more energy to do this, and more oxygen too. This is why we breathe faster, to help get more oxygen into the body, blood and to those ‘needy’ muscles! Lactic acid build-up is one of the by-products of exercise, and if this isn’t mopped up or flushed away then it can lead to those infamous cramps!
The other big change during exercise is that micro-tears develop as the muscle is asked to work beyond its normal level. This is especially true during weight training, when you lift heavier weights than normal. Instructors will tell you that lifting lighter weights with higher frequencies is perfect for toning muscle, and lifting heavier weights at shorter reps will tear more muscle fibres and lead to muscle growth as they repair.
It all therefore depends on whether you are trying to keep fit and tone muscle or want muscle growth. The after-effects should therefore reflect the original objective of the training session, and in all cases, we recommend speaking with one of our trained instructors who can develop a program for you based on your needs and current levels too.
And in our next article, we will explore some of the tips and tricks you can use to help recover from a hard training session and help repair damaged muscles.