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I've been trying to follow 4 day split as described here: https://www.aworkoutroutine.com/the-muscle-building-workout-routine/

The the upper body workouts are no problem. I might be a little bit sore for the next day or two but it's nothing I can't easily power through. My problem is with the lower body workouts. I can do the work outs but my legs are extremely sore for several days afterwards, to the point where its difficult to walk (much less go up or down stairs) even 3 or 4 days after the work out. To compensate I've been increasing the number of rest days after a leg workout hoping that over time my leg muscles will get used to the workout and the recovery time I need will decrease.

Is this the correct solution to my problem or is there something else I should be doing to fix my issues with soreness and muscle recovery after my lower body workouts?

  • How long have you been lifting for, and how much do you squat (provide weight relative to your bodyweight and for how many reps)? The most likely explanation is that you've selected a vastly inappropriate program for your level of experience. – David Scarlett Dec 17 '19 at 5:22
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I've had this problem and overcame it to some extent. Here are some things that helped.

  1. Post-workout stretching. I never stretched after lifting, but I found that it was helpful on leg days. At the end of leg day I spend about 5 minutes stretching out quads, hamstrings, calved, hip flexors, and just stretching into a deep squat for about 30 seconds. I think this has really help cut down on sore days.

  2. Light recovery days. This is probably the most helpful. Instead of skipping a leg day because you are too sore, just do a light leg day where you take it slow and focus on form and really stretching out those sore muscles. e.g. for squat maybe do 60% of your max and do slow (even pause) reps where you really go deep into the squat. It will hurt, but it will help. Do a light leg press with a good stretch. Maybe skip the leg ext. if your quads are on fire and do some leg curls instead. The key here is to do some lower body work even if it's light and even if it isn't very comfortable.

  3. Myofascial release (e.g. foam rolling). This actually didn't do much for me, but a lot of people swear by it, so I think it's a valid thing to try.

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  • Re: foam rolling. I found that using those rolling pins on my quads helped much more. I could never get in a good position with the foam roller. – C. Lange Dec 16 '19 at 16:51
  • good point. I changed it to be more general. I've never used those. I think with myofascial release in general, I've just never stuck with it enough to see much benefit. I've also heard it's difficult for most people to do it "hard" enough so that it's actually effective – Dan Dec 16 '19 at 17:05
  • I would like to add that tight hip flexors such as your rectus femoris can cause your quads to take over for the other muscles in a conpund exercise, overloading them to the point where your tight leg muscles overwork and get very sore. If you don't have tight hip flexors don't worry about it, but I had this problem for years before a physical therapist told me otherwise. – Ace Cabbie Dec 17 '19 at 2:25
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    The science indicates that stretching and massage are not useful for reducing DOMS. tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/108331903225003181 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC119442 – David Scarlett Dec 17 '19 at 6:18
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Are you not used to heavy leg days? These are large muscle groups. One workout focused more on hamstrings while the other one more on quads. Do you notice being sore specifically after one?

I have this same issue.. I have tight hip flexors that cause my quads to get overused, which makes them very sore. It could also be DOMS.. so to summarize:

Possible causes:

Tight hip flexors causing quads to take over the work from the other muscles

DOMS

Not use to the volume or frequency of leg exercises.

How to prevent it:

As long as it's not tight hip flexors which is an entirely separate issue.. doing a walk or light jog before hand along with a dynamic warmup with foam rolling before should help. Then after your workout use a foam roller and go for a 30 minute walk after. This has been proven to reduce soreness. If you're new to this type of training, try reducing the sets on some of your leg exercises, and if you need to even cut out one or two. Worst case scenario, switch to one leg day a week until you're use to it.

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