I go to a couple of fitness classes with my friend each week. The next day she reports feeling sore or stiff, but I don’t feel anything. Am I not working hard enough? Pat, 53
Muscle soreness is not necessarily an indicator of how hard you worked out. If your friend is feeling the sessions but you’re not, it could actually be a sign that your body has adapted to the type of movement and is fitter. As your body becomes used to a certain workout, your muscles get better and faster at recovering, meaning you experience DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) less and less the fitter your get. Of course, if you do something brand new, or train in a way your body isn’t used to, chances are you will feel something the next day – or possibly two days afterwards as DOMS can take up to 48 hours to take effect.
Rather than measuring a workout based on muscle soreness, I would look for signs of progress: are you getting stronger? Can you lift more weight than before? Can you perform aerobic exercises for longer? Do moves that once felt hard seem to be getting easier? Do you feel you have more energy? If you can’t answer yes to any of these, chances are you may need to push yourself a little more, but if you notice your body and fitness levels improving, that’s the best indicator you’re working hard.