It is very common to get soreness/pain/DOMS when you do something you haven't done in a while (like skiing or bench) - Even when working far from max.

Is this because something with the muscles, or is it more related to what we are doing?

Is the training less effective at this point or will you gain more compared to how hard you work (because untrained muscles are easier to train)?(In relation to max).

Does this "regularness" effect continue into regular training? (If we compare doing something regularly/often compared to less regularly/often)

If you for example compare a program with many sets (Starting Strength), to one with few sets (4 hour body)?

Does this irregulars effect have a name? Is there some methodology for how to minimize it?

Practically for things I do like weights, hikings, Pilates, Yoga with some strength I want to minimize this effect (Be beeing "just regular enough")

2 Answers 2


It's called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and is a natural consequence of changing either intensity or volume on anything you are doing. It's temporary, and once you get used to the new regular workload you won't get it anymore.

It has no effect on your ability to train or carry any risk of injury. It's simply uncomfortable.

A little information on how to minimize DOMS for infrequent activities:

  • Perform a wide variety of General Physical Preparedness (GPP) exercises throughout the week. These can be conditioning, strength, or mobility related exercises.
  • Define regular as at least 3 times per week distributed as evenly as possible throughout the week.
  • Perform regular Sport Specific Preparedness (SSP) exercises that use the same muscles in similar ways. I.e. select your exercises based on your desired sport.

Even just doing GPP work at a sufficient intensity and volume can greatly reduce the DOMS you would receive from sporadic activities. SSP work will help your technique and ability to perform your sport of choice. The key here is to perform regular exercise. You may still get DOMS from the special activity, but it will not be as intense as you have taught your body how to recover more effectively.

  • I guess this "extra" pain can often be called DOMS, but I am looking for the terminology for/theory for why you get it "irregularity".
    – Olav
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 5:01
  • 3
    @Olav "it is a natural consequence of changing either intensity or volume on anything you are doing". You get it according to what changed and a million other minor factors like sleep, diet, warm-up, and whether you happen to have worked those muscles with some other exercise recently. Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 5:08
  • I don't think "Irregularity DOMS" is necessarily the same as DOMS from training to hard. Also it cane be important to minimize it or know when it is a contributing factor to problems.
    – Olav
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 17:29
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    Think about it. If you don't regularly do an activity, your body is used to not doing that activity. As soon as you start doing that activity you have changed both the intensity and volume related to that activity. The definition and cause still apply. If you want to minimize DOMS, regularly perform that activity. Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 18:24

According to the Wikipedia DOMS article it is called "Repeated-bout effect" - or rather this is the "opposite" viewpoint - that there is less DOMS when you do something regularly.

It also states that just one session is enough to reduce DOMS significantly in the following session - and the first session can be quite light.


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