Should you train while still sore from previous workout?

I got two questions over the weekend that were pretty similar…when should you train as it relates to muscle soreness. Basically, should you train if you are still sore from the previous workout. Here is my answer when someone asks me about this…

It really depends on a few things. First, if it is some light to moderate muscle soreness that will go away after warming up and stretching out then you are fine. You don’t need to be totally free of soreness before training again.

However, if it is severe soreness, the type where you have trouble getting into and out of a chair, you may be better off waiting and doing some recovery stuff like stretching and foam rolling. Severe muscle soreness is a sign that you did too much and you need to let your body recover before working out again.

Also, if it is joint soreness then you need to address the painful area. Just popping some Advil to train isn’t a good long term plan – you will have to address the problem, either with smart training today or surgery and a forced layoff in the future.

Lastly, if you are constantly wiped out and feeling rundown then you may simply be pushing too hard. The truth is that strength training make you feel better and more energized, not wiped out for days on end.

In general, resting a day or two between workouts should be plenty and doing two workouts on consecutive days isn’t going to over train you, even if you are a bit sore the second day. Just don’t train hard three days in a row, especially if you need energy for something like mountain biking, or else you will be too tired to perform optimally.

Some soreness is fine and too be expected, just learn to tell the difference between good and bad muscle soreness. This is part of the training process and falls under the “know yourself” category of self improvement.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Brooce says:


    I have recently noticed that after few months of strenght training I have much less muscle soreness than at the beginning. Does this mean that I can regenerate faster and have another training session f.e. one day quicker than before?
    Can muscles be still fatiqued after having soreness gone away?
    Can I treat sore muscles as an indicator of my regeneration and whether I am ready to train again, or these two things are quite independent?

    Thanks for an advice

    Reply • December 18 at 8:00 am
    • bikejames says:

      Soreness is one indicator and strength levels are another. You can be tired from a previous workout but not sore and the other way around. The muscular and nervous system are both parts of the overall equation and need to be looked at differently.

      But in general the fitter you are the quicker you can recover.

      Reply • December 20 at 3:08 pm

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James Wilson