• Zach

Why do I always get so sore when I start working out that I end up quitting soon after I start?

This is one of the most common challenges that keeps people from getting into a consistent exercise routine.


You get all hyped up that you’re going to turn into a shredded Greek God or Goddess overnight at the new year or right before beach season. You go to the gym and absolutely punish yourself thinking that the harder you work, the better the results will be. You do 15 sets of 30 on everything over a 4-hour workout session.


Then the next day you can hardly move. So you take the next day off to recover.


But the next day you’re even worse off. Just getting out of bed that second day after starting your new fitness quest makes the top three list of the most difficult things you’ve ever done. No workout that day either.


You’re still pretty sore the third day but you’re finally feeling a slight improvement. You think one more day will do it.


So on the fourth day after the first workout, you hit the gym again – hard. After all, you’ve had three days off and need to make up for the missed days. But you’re still feeling the first workout and you can’t even match the previous workout’s numbers, far less improve on them. You’re getting weaker already?! How can that be?


You decide your only course of action is to push yourself even harder to make up for your weaker performance. Then you end up hurting yourself or can’t even get off the toilet without assistance for a week because you’re so sore again. After just two workouts and two weeks of unbearable soreness, you throw in the towel and decide it’s not worth it to get in better shape. You’re great just the way you are (just like your mommy tells you).


Sound familiar?


Unfortunately, working HARDER is very rarely the answer – ESPECIALLY when you’re just getting started or starting up after a long hiatus from working out. Wouldn’t it be great if just working harder got better results?


Anyone can work hard. That doesn’t take talent or any God-given gifts at all. It just takes some mental toughness and a decision to work hard with the perseverance to follow through.


Most people think the equation goes like this: Maximum Effort + Consistency = Results


But in reality, the equation looks more like this: Proven Plan + Adherence = Results


What does that mean though?


Blind hard work, with the assumption that more (more weight, more reps, more soreness, more sweat, more fatigue, more workouts, etc) is always better, will get most people nowhere. Actually, it will often cause them to regress (go backwards).


So what’s the solution? It’s really a simple process:


1) Define your goals.

Do you want to get strong? Lose weight? Learn a movement or skill? Compete in a powerlifting, bodybuilding, or bikini competition? Feel better overall? Be specific. The more specific, the better.


2) Find someone who has already done what you are hoping to do.

Find someone who looks like you want to look or performs like you want to perform.


3) Figure out what they did to get there…

But don’t forget this absolutely ESSENTIAL DETAIL – don’t look at what they’re doing now after they’ve already achieved what you are trying to achieve. Look at what they were doing when they were in your shoes. Look at what they did when they were just starting.

How much sense would it make for you to do the same workouts as an Olympic gold-medalist when you’re just starting out? How much do you think someone would benefit from doing the same workout as Michael Phelps in his prime if they’re just getting into swimming? Maybe you’re thinking “when you say it like that, it just sounds stupid. Who would do that?” The answer is lots of people. I would say most people. Too many people.


4) Be conservative, consistent, and disciplined in your execution of your plan to accomplish your goals.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to start conservatively. Think about it this way.


Let’s say you just LOVE pie more than any other non-human thing in the entire world. Now let’s say you’re only allowed to eat one piece of pie every other day. Do you think you would still enjoy pie every time you ate it?


Now let’s say you’re forced to eat an entire pie every single day. It’s forced on you and you can’t skip a day because more is better right? How much do you think you would like pie after two weeks of that?


My point is this: if you overdo something, your motivation/desire to keep doing that thing disappears quickly. However, if you appropriately pace yourself and are disciplined in your dosing then you’ll continue to enjoy, and want to do more of, that thing.


If you go from never working out to hitting the gym for 4 hours every day and you’re sore all the time, you probably won’t want to go back to the gym very badly after a week or two. But if you start slowly and train with a credible plan, you’ll not only continue ENJOYING the process but you’ll actually get the results you’re looking for too.


So here’s the short version:

1) Define your goals

2) Find someone who has already done what you are hoping to do.

3) Figure out what they did to get there

4) Be conservative, consistent, and disciplined in your execution of your plan to accomplish your goals.


That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard. It just means you time your hard work, easy work, and recovery to both force and allow your body to improve itself based on the demands that you place on it.


That might sound a little funny, but read it again and really think about it.


You FORCE your body to at least TRY to adapt and improve based on the demands you put on it.


You ALLOW your body to recover and improve based on your rest and nutrition.


Here’s another little helping of food for thought: if you are always WORKING at maximum effort, you are actually never PERFORMING at your maximum potential.

Here’s what that means in (hopefully) simpler terms. Let’s say you start on day 1 and go all out in the gym. You’re fully rested, but also fully detrained and unadapted to the work you are performing.


The next day you come in and do the same thing. Your performance is inferior on the second day because of the residual fatigue you have from the day before and the fact that your body has not recovered and adapted. If you continue this pattern, your performance will continue to decrease because you are not allowing your body to recover and improve. So you are actually never PERFORMING at your maximum potential even though you may be WORKING at maximum effort.


In order to PERFORM at your maximum potential, your body needs to be fully recovered and adapted from the previous stresses you have placed on it. For that to happen, your body needs rest and recovery days. Recovery days don’t have to be rest days either – they can just be lighter days. “Easy” days. The important thing to note is that in order to perform at a high level, you actually have to INTENTIONALLY include LESSER effort days into your routine.


This goes for everything – work, relationships, hobbies, etc. You can’t go 100% all-out every single day because even if the effort is there, the performance won’t be. You can’t give your wife or girlfriend the full-on Valentine’s-Day-of-her-life-flowers-and-chocolates-and-fancy-dinner experience every day. It’s just not doable. You can’t have an unbelievably best-most-productive-day-ever at work every day. Just like training for strength or fitness in general, your exceptional performance days will be sprinkled in with plenty of average/easy/less-than-stellar days.


To wrap up this concept, here are the important takeaways:


1) Maximum EFFORT every day does not equate to maximum PERFORMANCE – it actually hinders it.


2) Maximum Effort + Consistency ≠ Results, Proven Plan + Adherence = Results


3) Start slow to progress quickly.


4) Do what your role model did when they were in YOUR position, not what they are doing after they have already accomplished the goals you have for yourself.


5) You still need to work hard, but hard work only benefits those with a credible plan to accomplish their goals who also have the discipline to adhere to that plan.


6) You won’t be performing at your best every day. Improvement isn’t linear – it’s cyclical. There will be ups and downs. You need to work hard, but then allow your body to adapt and recover.


What do you think? Share your thoughts below, give it a like, and share this post with someone you know who could benefit from it!


(As always, none of the information provided here should be considered medical advice. It is for informational/entertainment purposes only. Always consult your doctor for medical advice or before starting a new exercise or nutrition program)


#powerlifting #gym #strengthtraining #weightlifting #benchpress #squat #deadlift #overheadpress #muscle #fitness #workout