When Is Pain Bad During a Workout?

When Is Pain Bad During a Workout?

When Is Pain Bad During a Workout?

Pain:One of the things we Personal Trainers have to explain to new untrained clients is the difference between muscle pain from applicable training and that of an actual injury.

Pain will become your best friend; both during a training session and post workout, which may last for several days. You must grow to like both, because essentially it is a by-product of a good session.  In the beginning you should expect to be sore, but as your training progresses, pain is not always essential and you should never judge the effectiveness of a session based on Pain. So what types of pain can you expect?


Pain during training is caused by the build up of lactic acid. Lactic acid is a by-product of working your muscles at a level of intensity that results in an oxygen deficit, meaning there is not enough oxygen to fuel the body’s normal metabolic processes. This is called ‘anaerobic’ (without oxygen) exercise and occurs when exercising intensely with little rest. The result is a burning sensation in the muscle. This burning sensation is supposed to be a signal from your body that you need to slow down and rest to prevent damage to your muscles…in theory! Of course, we know that for muscle gains you need to make ‘the burn’ your friend. You must learn to tolerate it so as to improve your physical capacities and build and reveal more muscle.

The Day After 

This type of pain is caused by microtrauma due to tiny tears in the muscle fibres caused by overload when lifting weights. This trauma helps to trigger adaptations in response to it happening again. It means your

muscle will grow bigger and become stronger. This type of soreness is generally of a mild nature and generally doesn’t impair muscle function. Depending on several factors such as diet, hydration, years lifted etc. it can last generally between 1 – 3 days.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: DOMS DOMS

is the type of deep muscular soreness you feel two days after a workout (not the day after) and generally is most common amongst first time lifters, when you embark on a new program that your body hasn’t adapted too or if you increase the intensity of your session. This type of pain can last from a couple of days up to a week and can prevent full muscular contract of the muscle.

Injury-Type Muscle Soreness

The last and most worrying type of pain / soreness is that caused by injury. With an injury there is usually a sharp pain that comes on very quickly and can cause immobilisation to the working area. It is nothing like any of the descriptions above and you will need to act quickly to prevent further damage. If you do find yourself injured, you will need to be cautious as to whether to proceed with your planned session, as depending on its nature, the injury may only be affected when the muscles are working in a certain range. Regardless, my advice would be to stop training because due to adrenaline and being in the “zone” you may make the injury worse thus delaying your recovery time. Rest the injured area for the remainder of the day and assess how it feels in the morning, if severe discomfort still remains then seek medical advice and treatment to get you back on track.


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