Any dedicated bodybuilder will tell you that you should balance your weight training days with in-between days of other activities. Day-after soreness isn’t uncommon, and it even has its rewards. By the third day after strenuous weight training, the discomfort should begin to ease up. This is your cue that it’s safe for you to begin lifting weights again.
Cause of Soreness
Muscle soreness is the result of microscopic damage to your muscle tissues. When you push your muscles hard, you essentially break down their fibers. This generally occurs when you increase your routine and ask more of your muscles than they’ve given you before and is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.
Benefits of Soreness
Your muscles hurt on the second day after you’ve broken down their tissue because they’re rebuilding. When they rebuild, they gain in size and strength. However, you have to fuel them to achieve this, not with more exercise immediately but proper nutrition and a day of rest to allow them to take advantage of the nutrition. This means keeping your protein intake up, since protein builds muscle. Generally, your diet should consist of 2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight.
When to Resume Training
Go back to weight training when the pain subsides. When the soreness is gone, your muscles have repaired the tiny tears you inflicted with your increased workout. When you resume training, pick up where you left off for best results. Your muscles are now accustomed to your more strenuous workout routine, and you should not feel pain again until you increase the intensity again.
On the second day, when you're sore, don't forgo exercise entirely. You can either skip the weights and do aerobics, or lift weights at a decreased level of intensity and for different body parts to allow your other muscles time to heal. Go back to the level you were at before you worked out hard enough to cause the soreness. Dr. Gabe Mirkin advises that when the pain subsides, you can move back up to the intensity that caused the soreness in the first place.
If you don’t give your muscles a break when they hurt, you’ll continue to break down their fibers without giving them an opportunity to take advantage of the protein in your diet and to rebuild. This will have the adverse effect of what you’re trying to achieve. As a result your muscles may actually grow weaker and lose mass if you do this regularly.