Kolumne 26 | Muskelkater und Muskelaufbau - Demo-Frey-Nutrition

Column 26 | Muscle soreness and muscle building


Column 26 - Muscle soreness and muscle building
Is muscle soreness always a sign of gains? Or the other way around: Is training without subsequent muscle soreness not as effective? Can muscle soreness even have negative effects?


Andreas Frey answers
The causes of muscle soreness are still not fully understood. It was previously believed that the accumulation of lactate (lactic acid) was responsible for muscle soreness, but this has been refuted by new scientific studies. It has been proven that muscle soreness is caused by tiny tears (microtraumas) in the trained muscles. The typical muscle soreness occurs 20 to 24 hours after an intensive training session.

Studies also show that muscle soreness is increased when the negative, eccentric movement of a repetition is emphasized - the very movement that has been proven to produce the greatest muscle growth because it is much more unfamiliar to the muscles.

Muscle soreness is caused by tiny tears in the muscles
There are various methods that can help treat muscle soreness, but it is almost impossible to avoid it. The harder you train, the more likely you are to experience the microtraumas mentioned. Stretching before and/or after a workout, for example, has no effect on the development of muscle soreness. Heat treatment can make it subside more quickly because it increases blood flow to the affected muscles.

According to an American study, taking cherry juice or the antioxidants it contains reduced muscle soreness and loss of strength. However, whether this has a long-term effect on improved muscle growth remains to be seen.

"If muscle soreness were bad for progress, negative movement would not have its growth-promoting significance." (Quote: A. Frey)
The negative movement leads to severe muscle soreness
It is not easy to answer whether muscle soreness is good or bad for gains, as unfortunately there are no long-term studies on this. What is certain, however, is that intensive training with heavy weights promotes muscle building. If the negative component of a repetition is emphasized, i.e. the weight is moved slowly and in a controlled manner at this point, this has a very positive effect on muscle building. And since the emphasis on the negative ultimately leads to greater muscle soreness, this brings us closer to the belief that it theoretically promotes muscle growth. It remains to be seen whether this can be proven by scientific studies. But it is likely.

I always try to train so hard and intensely that I feel a little sore the next day. I don't always manage to do this, but when I do, I know that I've done my best during training. However, you shouldn't overdo it with the soreness! As in many other areas, success lies in the happy medium: moderate muscle soreness is an advantage, but excessive soreness should be avoided.

Muscle soreness usually occurs after a long break from training or in untrained people. In this case, care should be taken not to train the affected part of the body again until the muscle soreness has completely subsided. Otherwise, the already damaged muscles can lead to further injuries, including torn fibers and partial or complete tears.

There are also athletes who almost never get sore muscles. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that they can't build muscle. Personally, I find sore muscles to be a good feeling and promote growth, but it's not an absolute must for building muscle!

Glutamine can improve regeneration
If you often suffer from severe muscle soreness, this may be due to inadequate recovery. In the worst case, this can result in symptoms of overtraining, such as severe fatigue, loss of strength and/or muscle loss. If this is the case for you, I strongly advise you to reduce your training workload and get enough sleep, ideally 8-9 hours per night.

If you want to effectively improve your regeneration, I can SUPPLEMENT GLUTAMINE highly recommend it. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in blood plasma and is used up most during intensive training. Studies show that consumption can be up to 40 g, depending on the intensity. The faster our body reabsorbs the used glutamine, the better the regeneration. For this reason, well-informed athletes take around 10-15 g of glutamine directly after training.


How do you handle the rest time between sets? I don't stick to a specific time and start the next set when I feel like it. How do you do that?


A regular break time is very important and crucial for success. If you take a break that is too long, you may end up in injury because the muscle has cooled down too much and cannot cope with the weights. Strains that set you back in training are often the result. The other way around: if you train alone, time passes much more slowly because there are no distractions. Then you may start the next set too early. This can lead to a loss of strength because the muscle you are training has not had enough time to recover.

It's best to stick to a specific time to avoid mistakes and injuries. I personally never train without a stopwatch. I stick to an average break time of one to 1.5 minutes; for leg training, it can sometimes be three minutes due to the greater cardiovascular strain.

The optimal break length between two sets should be consistently between one and 1.5 minutes.
Equal break times are important
By always keeping the break time the same, it is also possible to maintain a relatively short and constant training time, which plays a key role in optimal muscle building.

Sometimes I "shock" my muscles by reducing the rest time to half a minute. The pump is then phenomenal and the intensity cannot be increased by anything. One advantage is the short training time, the muscles enter the recovery phase more quickly. On the other hand, the unusual training with short rest times also stimulates muscle building. Just try it out and see what happens. Have fun and success!

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