You know that quote "Better sore than sorry?"
If you do, you should try and forget it, because it's stupid.
Alright maybe that's a little harsh, it's not entirely stupid, but it shouldn't be taken so literally.
Through years of working out in the gym, reading 'inspirational' quotes on Instagram, and sayings like this, a lot of us have been conditioned to think that being sore is the only way to indicate if you got a good workout. Although it's definitely a sign you put work in, there are a ton of different ways to know your workout did its job without the actual pain your legs feel from sitting on a toilet after leg day.
Soreness happens to your muscles after a workout because of little, tiny, microscopic tears during the downward (eccentric) movement which can cause swelling, inflammation, and a sweet little term called DOMS a.k.a delayed onset muscle soreness that hits a few days later. You feel it when you put your muscles under stress that they haven't ever been through or if it's been a hot minute, so if you're consistently working out you're going to be less likely to feel it.
It's a strangely satisfying feeling, but it's also a super uncomfortable one if you become sore enough (think having to be in a wedding the weekend after completing Murph in a weighted vest and literally not being able to fully straighten your arms for pictures) and it doesn't really show any indication of how hard you worked out especially if you're a serial sweater.
Here are a few ways to know if your workout was turned up and your muscles were turned on.
1. You feel really effing good after you're done.
Once you get past the initial feeling like you're going to puke (kidding), you usually always feel great and accomplished after a workout. Thank the endorphins or the mantra your coach used during class, either one works when you're feeling high after your workout is over.
2. Your heart rate was up and you would have had a hard time holding a conversation.
Bringing your heart rate up is something that happens to the body when it's made a little bit uncomfortable. Think about what happens when you walk up a flight of stairs. No matter how conditioned you are, your heart rate goes up a little bit and it becomes harder to talk. Think about feeling that way through a whole workout, even though you may not be pushing yourself to the point of no return, you're still pushing your body past a resting point.
3. You slept like a rock at night.
Sleep is arguably one of the best things in the world and getting a night full of it isn't always the easiest thanks to common everyday stress, anxiety, having an over active mind, or having a snuggling PitBull in your bed. After a good workout your body will literally be tired so sleeping is like rewarding it. Working out can also relieve all those whack stressors mentioned before.
4. You felt challenged.
Was there a point during your workout where you thought 'this is hard?' or did you struggle on those last few reps? Was pushing past those like 10 seconds of a sprint kind of rough and squatting lower on that last circuit almost unbearable? If you answered yes to any of those, then yes, you felt challenged.
5. You feel stronger than you did a few weeks ago.
It takes about two weeks to feel some type of a difference when it comes to working out and about 21 days to form a habit. One of the best attributes that comes from both of those lengths of time is how you become (and feel) stronger because of the work you're putting in. Remember, soreness isn't an indication of strength.