What if I said I could teach you how to stop DOMS after leg day?
You’d probably think I was going to teach you a trick involving your thighs and the woodchipper machine from the end of Universal Soldier, right?
Well, fear not.
New research suggests that light cardio can offset the pain caused by DOMS when performed immediately after a hard training session, and today I’m going to take you through this research so you now how to apply it for the best results.
But before we look at that, I just want to add a couple of things..
What’s Wrong With DOMS Anyway?
I’ve always been a fan of post-workout soreness.
Particularly leg day DOMS.
For if upper body muscle soreness is the equivalent of Muhammad Ali jabbing your muscles all day long, leg day DOMS are the equivalent of being run over by a tank. Driven by Rambo. While on fire.
I’ve always considered them a badge of honor, a gift from the God of Gains to commend you on a job well done.
But in my time as a trainer, I know that this love differs from person to person.
While some trainees walk around boasting about the 20 rep sets of barbell squats that have left them walking like Robocop and rendered them unable to get in or out of a car seat, other trainees absolutely hate it.
I mean, they dread DOMS so much that they actually skip the workout. That’s not good.
So let’s take a look at some interesting research out of California State University.
How To Stop DOMS After Leg Day
Back in 2012, researchers from California State University set out to record the effects of post-lifting aerobic cardio against the delayed onset of muscle soreness.
Their goal was to discover whether there was an optimal level of intensity which could actually help us to reduce the effects of DOMS in the days which follow a tough leg workout.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, put three groups of trainees through the following post-workout cardio protocols:
- Group A – 20 minutes of low intensity cardio on a stationary bike
- Group B – 20 minutes of moderate intensity cardio on a stationary bike
- Group C – no post-workout cardio (control group)
The team found that Group B, who were performing 20 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic cardio after their leg workouts, were able to recover significantly faster than either of the other groups.
In fact, their leg strength returned to baseline levels a full 24 hours faster than both other groups!
Why did this happen?
Well, the researchers concluded that the moderate intensity of the cardio was able to increase blood flow to the tired muscles, helping to deliver nutrients to all the damaged muscle tissues and shuttle away lactic acid, essentially “speeding up” the recovery process. (1)
Take Home Points
If you suffer particularly nasty DOMS after your leg workouts, give this tip a try.
Usually, I prefer to do my cardio before I lift, so I’d like to hear whether this works for you or not.
Although a stationary bike was used during the trial, I see no reason why other forms of cardio couldn’t be substituted in it’s place if you prefer, so get out for a walk, go for a swim, whatever floats your boat – just remember to keep the intensity moderate, it shouldn’t feel like a walk in the park.
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- Tufano, J.J., et. al. Effect Of Aerobic Recovery Intensity On Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness And Strength. J. Str and Con Res, 26(10), 2777-2782, 2012.