Regarding Bros and DOMS Regarding Bros and DOMS

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Thread: Regarding Bros and DOMS

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Default Regarding Bros and DOMS

    Dear Rip,
    FIrst, let me apologize for asking this, given that you actually answered this question pretty much thoroughly in your article "Soreness". But I got into this heated argument in social media regarding DOMS, and was hoping you might give your opinion -- as an experienced coach and known internet intellect on matters pertaining to strength training.

    See, there was an article shared in a platform, which one, does not matter, that in its headline posed the question "Should you get sore after training?", and which contained all sorts of misconceptions already in the one paragraph preview that was available for non-susbscribers.

    So, I commented on it saying the following:

    "For the vast majority of people, getting DOMS is not a sign of training properly, but a sign that they have actually not trained the muscles in question while applying significant eccentric load for awhile."

    I.e., if you train regularly and in a sensible manner, you simply do not get DOMS regularly. This should be obvious, but I received numerous counter-comments stating that what I said was "utter bullshit", and an indication that I have never ever trained, that I am weak -- and destined to remain so as long as I hold this belief and act accordingly -- and, that "all serious powerlifters get DOMS every time they train".

    So, my question is twofold: How common is this belief that you should get DOMS regularly among people that are novices and looking to get strong? And have you actually encountered people who have succesfully become strong while retaining this belief? I have known relatively few people who have gotten very strong, but none of them have had this belief in the end, even if they had it at the beginning. One of the commenters in the "discussion" in question claimed to be a "PT who specializes in training power lifters" and she claimed that her clients get DOMS on a weekly basis and they are competitive lifters. I found this utterly implausible.

    I tried googling this but I found no indication that my claim was in any way controversial.

  2. #2
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    The belief is obviously common, even if the experience is not. It may have to do with the way we train lifters and the way these highly successful PTs who train competitive lifters program them. I'll bet if you ask them how many times a week they train the lifts, they'll tell you 1x/week. If your lifters detrain between workouts, they might report DOMS, and they might not. If your "competitive powerlifter" program features constant variation in assistance exercises, you'll be sore. And if the person taking the report wants you to be sore, maybe you're inclined to say you're sore, or even believe you are sore. At any rate, the vast majority of people who are effectively training a program that relies on gradually increased loading, or even volume, and does not rely on exercise variation as a training variable do not get sore every week. We have the data.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2017
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    Just one anecdotal example. I was out of the gym for about a month. Went in on Saturday morning. Squat, press, deadlift. About 90% of what I lifted last month. It was all easy and I felt good all day. Woke up Sunday and could barely get out of bed, my legs were so sore. Was sore all week, and walking funny, up to Wednesday. Did my lifts with 5 lbs more. Felt good. Woke up Thursday morning not one pain anywhere.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for this answer. This is exactly the sort of argument/observation I was hoping for.

    Most of the people saying "you don't know the first thing about training" etc, were people calling for pictures of my abs, pecs and biceps, as if my physique or lack thereof would somehow serve to verify a specific claim as to the metabolic and training factors contributing to DOMS. Many of the people claiming DOMS being a sign of "pushing it" had profile pictures of them in speedos and all oiled up. So perhaps there is some kind of cognitive skew, if a person's focus is on having a particular kind of look, then they are bound to have these other preferences (such as posing in speedos, all epilated and oiled up for all the world to see) and perhaps more likely also to enjoy or at least expect, a certain level of pain from training, or even (to an extent) believe that more pain is better.

    The discussion in question seemed to be a data point in support of all those warnings against this sort of... persuasion.

  5. #5
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    When I started my LP I was sore for probably a week, maybe two weeks max. Ever since then I don't get sore anymore. When I went away for vacation for a month and continued my LP, I was sore for about a day afterwards and that's it. If you're training to be sore all the time, you're A) Doing it wrong or B) You're into pain.

  6. #6
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    There is a cultural norm, generally in the West, but likely the world over, that a measure of your value as a person is related to the amount of physical effort you have put out or are capable of putting out. Seems reasonable, no? I don't think that Rip's adage of "stronger people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general" would be met with too much objection anywhere. That being said, given that you can get sore when you perform physical exertion, regardless of the reason why, people have tacked on this modifier to their value assessments of individuals. Thus, the more sore you get, the more work you have obviously done, and doing work is decidedly good and means you're an OK good guy.

    This is related to the reason that so much value is placed on a low body fat percentage and visible abs. People who don't have abs are fat. Fat people are lazy and slothful. Lazy and slothful people are bad. Ergo, visible abs are good. They convey a status of high individual value on the person. They work hard and don't just sit around all day.

    An interesting analogue to all of this has to do with cultural perceptions of physical appearance and fitness. Even up through the Industrial Revolution, tanned skin was an undesirable characteristic of the upper classes and nobility. If you were tan, it meant that you were a laborer, i.e., you were out in the sun all day. Only the lower classes were laborers, and thus the obsession with pearly white skin, so much so that women from the ancient Romans to the medieval Japanese to the Victorian British, powdered their faces with a mixture that included often included such heavy metals as lead. They slowly poisoned themselves in order to project their status.

  7. #7
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    An appropriate question prior to ask prior to engaging in a discussion regarding DOMS is this: play stupid and ask the group, "what actually causes DOMS?" Depending on the answer, that dictates whether you insert yourself into the discussion or not.

  8. #8
    Brodie Butland is offline Starting Strength Coach
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    The other thing you have to consider is what they mean by DOMS. I get DOMS after pretty much every heavy squat session. If I've been lifting consistently, it's not an issue--there's definitely soreness for two days, but it's not enough to notice. Contrast that with when I've been on a multi-week hiatis...the DOMS will be damn near debilitating for as much as three days after my first squat session back if I do the same volume I'm doing now. For example, on my last big run, I was able to hit a 470x1 squat, followed by two backoffs at 415x3. I felt almost nothing the next day. Three weeks ago, I came back after a nearly six-week layoff. I did six ramping sets of 5 from the empty bar to 315x5, and I was clobbered for two solid days afterwards.

    If these social media folks' position is that everyone gets DOMS to some degree after a heavy session involving an eccentric component, then I can't really argue with that. But if by "DOMS" they mean invariable potty flop and avoiding stairs for the next two days...that is simply not normal unless someone is not training very intelligently.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2016
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    I think only detrained people get sore if we exclude the ones that do the "leg day" doing 10 sets of squats once a week.

    On several places I've read/heard that volume causes soreness. But that has not been my experience nor I believe it does generally. I think volume causes soreness only if you didn't do that volume before or if you're constantly changing assistance exercises as Rip said. If you're more advanced you could get detrained by either a layoff or a meet. So I'm a fan of gradually increasing the volume in every situation possible.

    Brodie, do you think 1 heavy set of 3 or 5 would get you as sore? What training program do you usually do?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Morris View Post
    An appropriate question prior to ask prior to engaging in a discussion regarding DOMS is this: play stupid and ask the group, "what actually causes DOMS?" Depending on the answer, that dictates whether you insert yourself into the discussion or not.
    I'd also add "....and how does one measure what "works"?"

    Someone's answer to this determines whether of not you can ever even "prove" your point or not. I have heard more people than I'd like to know existed in the gene pool answer with "I just know it does" for things that have no demonstrable impact on them other than possible affecting their ability to reason well.

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