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Typically when I workout I am not sore the next day. I'm sore the day after the next day. My workout buddy is always sore the very next day, and I think he usually recovers faster. I was wondering if anyone else has heard of this. Could it be a problem with nutrition, or is it genetics? Is this common? Any help is appreciated =)

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1 Answer 1

You are experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The severity of DOMS is determined by the way your lift weights and your nutrition. Experiencing DOMS days after your workout is not bad. It is a sign of muscle growth, although not the only sign.

Workout

There are two parts to a repetition - concentric and eccentric. The concentric portion occurs when you lift against gravity. For example, lifting upwards on a barbell curl is concentric. The eccentric portion occurs when the weight falls in the direction of gravity. For example, letting the barbell fall back towards your thighs. DOMS is increased by lengthening the eccentric contraction. For example, slowly lowering the barbell in a controlled manner.

Muscles undergoing heavy eccentric loading suffer greater damage when overloaded (such as during muscle building or strength training exercise) as compared to concentric loading. When eccentric contractions are used in weight training, they are normally called negatives. During a concentric contraction, muscle fibers slide across each other, pulling the Z-lines together. During an eccentric contraction, the filaments slide past each other the opposite way, though the actual movement of the myosin heads during an eccentric contraction is not known. Exercise featuring a heavy eccentric load can actually support a greater weight (muscles are approximately 10% stronger during eccentric contractions than during concentric contractions) and also results in greater muscular damage and delayed onset muscle soreness one to two days after training. Exercise that incorporates both eccentric and concentric muscular contractions (i.e. involving a strong contraction and a controlled lowering of the weight) can produce greater gains in strength than concentric contractions alone. While unaccustomed heavy eccentric contractions can easily lead to overtraining, moderate training may confer protection against injury.

Why does the eccentric contraction increase DOMS, but not the concentric contraction? From the Wikipedia article, it appears that the eccentric contraction uses a very different mechanical process and is fueled by different nutrients. I recall watching a video on Intructional Fitness saying that workouts with extremely prolonged eccentric contractions cause DOMS, not the day after the workout, but actually two days after the workout.

Nutrition

I'm not an expert on how nutrition affects DOMS, but I've read in numerous places that eating branch chain amino acids reduces DOMS by repairing muscle faster. BCAAs are found in most high end protein powders.

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