sore guyPhoto: djile (Shutterstock)

Delayed sore muscles – the kind that make you flinch when walking down the stairs after a busy day – is quite common after your first day of a new workout. But it’s not that likely to happen after day two, thanks to a phenomenon known as the repeated combat effect.

In essence, a workout that induces pain seems to give you some protection from additional pain that lasts for a while. (It fades over time, but research suggests that some level of protection can last for months.) If you’ve ever followed a friend to the gym and worked out with them, you’ve seen this in action. They may be sore for a week, but since they are doing the same workout all the time, they barely feel anything.

This also explains why you feel more pain at the beginning of an exercise program than after a few weeks. Sometimes people wonder if the program stopped working, however You can still get stronger even if you don’t get sore, and vice versa.

This is how you use the repeated combat effect to your advantage

When starting a new exercise program or doing a new type of exercise for the first time in a while, do not give your all on your first day. A medium intensity workout still triggers the repetitive fighting effect, so once you have this protection activated, you can get tougher on your second day.

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If you already did a killer on day one and are now in agony, your best bet is to get back to the gym on time. Allowing yourself an extra day of rest is fine when you need it, however Please don’t think that you will have to wait for the pain to go away. Work it through and the pain will subside.

Illustration for article titled How Not To Be Sore All The Time After Exercising

What if you’ve worked out for a while but are still sore? Chances are, you haven’t done the same movements consistently. Crouching, bench, and deadlifting every week will protect you from squat, bench, and deadlift pain. But if you like variety so much that you do a different YouTube video or a different CrossFit class every day, you’re not giving your body a chance to get used to a particular exercise.

(Getting enough sleep and eating enough are also helpful in overcoming pain. So if you are sore, constantly dieting, and never going to bed on time, these habits should also be looked at.)

How many problems in fitnessThe solution to pain is consistency. I know it’s daunting to lie in bed the day after your first workout and think, ugh, I have to go back? But if you do, things will get better. I promise it.

Illustration for article titled How Not To Be Sore All The Time After Exercising