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What is DOMS, and What Causes It?

DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and is something that anyone who is strength training is going to experience. Many believe that DOMS is caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles after bouts of anaerobic exercise, but this isn’t true. Lactic acid actually functions as back-up fuel for your muscles when there isn’t enough oxygen to go around, and disappears after an hour or two. DOMS is actually caused by micro-tears in your muscle cells, and the soreness peaks anywhere from 24-72 hours after exercise.

How Do I Lessen the Symptoms of DOMS?

Some people find relief by taking a hot bath, and others somewhat counter-intuitively get temporary relief with more light exercise. The common thread is, anything that will increase blood flow to the muscles, such as a hot bath, visit to the sauna, or light aerobic exercises like running or biking, can help speed up the healing process. But there is no magic bullet remedy for DOMS. The most important thing to remember, especially for people new to strength training is to stick with it. As long as you keep the intensity of your workouts up, gradually increasing over time, the symptoms of DOMS should lessen after each workout.

How Do I Convert Fat to Muscle?

The short answer is that you can’t, because the two cells have a significantly different molecular structure. Muscles are active tissue that use your body’s energy for movement, and fat cells are merely storage tanks for that energy. While it’s true that people who strength train regularly and with proper guidance see an increase in muscle mass and loss of body fat, they are both unrelated outcomes of the same stimuli: being more active.

Can Strength Training Boost My Metabolism?

Yes! Your muscles are constantly using energy, just like a car running in neutral still uses gasoline. Put simply, if you have more muscle mass in your body, your demand for energy while at rest is higher. However, bear in mind that to effectively change your body’s resting metabolic rate, you’ll need to pair building more muscle mass with an adjusted diet and regular cardiovascular exercise. Consistency is key!

If I Train More, Will I See Improvement Faster?

No! While this may make some logical sense on the surface, overtraining is a real and serious matter. As discussed above, when you strength train, you are creating tiny fissures in your muscles and connective tissue that need time to heal. Overtraining is characterized by stressing or damaging your body faster than it can recover. This causes both physical and emotional symptoms, and none of them are fun. When you overtrain your body, it responds by over-producing cortisol. This is the hormone attributed to stress, and has been linked to depression, muscle loss, weight gain, sleep problems, a weakened immune system, and many other adverse effects to both your overall health. Keeping your strength training workouts to twice a week balances effectiveness and allows proper time for your body to heal.