Question: If I’ve been working out for a while - doing strength training, etc. should I still be getting sore after every workout? If I don’t get sore, does that mean I’m not working out hard enough?
Answer: The answer to this question really lies in the goals at hand. If you are happy with the way you look and you are just trying to maintain yourself and lose a little fat, you could probably get by with light weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise. However, if you are trying to add muscle and increase your long-term metabolism you may want to be a little bit sore for a day or two after exercise. When you get sore you are actually getting small “micro tears” in your muscles. You are sore because you are tearing your muscle down on a small scale. The muscles grow or increase in size as a defense mechanism by your body to avoid future damage.
When you do eat calories (specifically protein) your body will use them to repair your muscle. Proteins break down into amino acids to repair muscle. You don’t want to get sore to where you are in severe pain for a week, but it is okay to be a little sore for a day or two after training a body part. Also, make sure not to keep training a muscle after it is sore as it has had no time to repair itself for the next workout. This may seem a little technical but it really is a science.