What Workout to Do When You’re Sore

You just completed an intense leg workout and now your quads are killing you. What workout should you do next?


When you’re feeling sore after a workout, it’s important to warm up properly before continuing to exercise. Warming up will help increase your range of motion, aid in loosening up tight muscles and ligaments, and reduce the risk of injury. A proper warm-up should include light stretching and dynamic exercises that don’t require heavy weight lifting or high intensity. Examples of this include foam rolling, light jogging, and bodyweight exercises.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is an important component of a warm-up as it can help to decrease muscle soreness, improve muscular flexibility and prepare the body for exercise. The idea behind foam rolling is to use your own bodyweight to apply pressure to specific areas of the muscles in order to release any built up tension and restrictions in the fascia (connective tissue). Foam rolling has been shown to help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and can support increased range of motion in joints.

When foam rolling, start at the top or bottom of a large muscle group such as the quadriceps or hamstrings. Place moderate pressure on these areas for 30 seconds per spot. Let your breathing cycle guide you; inhaling on a roll out and exhaling on an effortless release. If you find sore areas when using a roller on larger muscles, isolate those spots by holding your body weight directly over them for 20 seconds at a time with consistent breathing. For smaller muscles such as the hands or feet, you may need to use tennis balls instead since they can reach deeper levels than a traditional foam roller will.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is the opposite of static stretching and involves movement during each stretch. It prepares the body for a more intense workout by increasing your heart rate and preparing your muscles to move. During dynamic stretches, you should strive to keep your movements controlled and slow without bouncing or jerking as this can cause injury.

Dynamic stretches can help to prepare sore muscles for activity by loosening them up and decreasing stiffness. This helps you get better range of motion during activities such as running or jumping. Examples of dynamic stretches include arm circles, leg swings, hip circles, butt kicks, and walking lunges which all help to promote blood flow and warm up the muscles needed for more intense activities. They also activate key muscle groups before a more strenuous workout — focusing on those used in specific exercises or sports — helping to give you better performance overall.

Low-Intensity Exercise

When you are feeling sore, your muscles and joints may be aching and the last thing you want to do is perform high-intensity exercise. Low-intensity exercise, however, can be a great way to ease the pain and help your body recover. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of doing low-intensity exercise when you are feeling sore and how to get started.


Walking is one of the most effective low-intensity exercises for both physical and mental well-being. It offers a range of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, stronger muscles and bones, improved balance and coordination, better moods, stress relief and weight loss. It is also a great exercise option for those recovering from an injury or those who are just beginning an exercise regimen.

Walking is easy to do just about anywhere – in parks, on sidewalks or trails and even indoors such as on a treadmill. A brisk walking pace can provide significant cardiovascular benefits within minutes of starting; however it’s important to stretch adequately before and after each session to prevent potential injuries. Since walking is low intensity, it can be done frequently with little risk of soreness or fatigue if planned appropriately. Depending on your personal goals, you may choose to begin with moderate-intensity movements like jogging or running; however be mindful not to overdo it – start slow to ensure you prevent any potential setbacks. Finally make sure your clothing fits comfortably as you go so that you can enjoy all the wonderful benefits that walking can grant you!


Swimming is one of the best low-intensity exercises for soreness and muscle recovery. Moving through a relaxing body of water can improve circulation through the muscles, reduce inflammation and stiffness, and help to speed up the healing process. It’s a perfect option for those days when you feel too sore to move or need to ease your body back into physical activity.

Swimming requires minimal equipment and can be done with as much intensity as you choose. As long as you feel comfortable, swimming at a moderate pace is well-suited for promoting recovery and relieving pain — it’s important not to push yourself too hard when your muscles are still highly sensitive. To get the full benefits of this gentle exercise, aim to swim between 20-30 minutes at a time with sets of both aerobic exercises like breaststroke or front crawl and controlled leisure activities like backstroke finning or underwater massage that can aid in deep muscle relaxation. Adding arm band floats or pool noodles can provide added support in the water if needed.


Cycling is a type of low-intensity exercise that can help you stay active and healthy, even when you’re feeling sore. It’s a great choice for those who don’t like impact activities, and it provides an efficient workout for all fitness levels. You can pedal along paths, trails or roads to see new places and take in some fresh air. Plus, you don’t have to be an expert cyclist to benefit from cycling. Just make sure that you’re wearing the right equipment before starting your ride – use a helmet, some comfortable clothing and bicycle shoes if possible.

When cycling, keep your intensity at a low level to help reduce your soreness while still providing health benefits. To start slow and steady, set yourself up with gear that will allow comfortable pedaling motion on flat roads. As your body gets used to the activity and starts responding positively, increase intensity by incorporating hills or more speed into your ride. Remember to fuel up before any exercises with plenty of water and nutritious snacks such as energy bars or dried fruits and nuts. Ultimately, slow cycling is a safe way to maintain muscle strength while giving yourself much-needed relief from any aches after tough workouts or intense activities.

Strength Training

Strength training is an important part of any workout routine, and is even more important when you’re feeling sore. Strength training helps to strengthen your muscles and can also help to relieve soreness. It’s also a great way to build up your muscle endurance and resilience. In this section, we’ll cover the various strength training exercises that can help you when you’re feeling sore.

Bodyweight Exercises

If recovery from soreness is your goal, bodyweight exercises are a great option when selecting a strength training routine. Bodyweight exercises are popular for strength training because they can be performed anywhere with little to no equipment and limited time commitment. These movements utilize only your own body as resistance and target pre-determined muscle groups.

Bodyweight exercises are an intense form of workout that produce results rapidly when done correctly. While they may not require the same amount of physical exertion as using gym equipment, utilizing your own body provides a unique set of challenges that are beneficial if you’re looking to strengthen and tone muscles while recovering from muscle soreness. Depending on the goals you would like to achieve, some popular bodyweight exercises that can be effective include:

-Mountain Climbers

Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance band exercises allow you to strengthen and tone various muscle groups with less risk of injury than other types of strength training. Resistance bands come in a variety of sizes and tension levels, providing adjustable intensity for beginner and advanced athletes alike.

When you’re sore after an intense workout or strenuous activity, choose simple resistance band exercises that target your weak areas, such as arms and legs, rather than your stronger muscle groups. Incorporating these exercises into your regular routine can help improve the overall health of the affected muscle group over time.

Popular resistance band exercises include:
-Bicep curls: These are ideal for toning the arms, shoulders, back and core. Keep your elbows close to the body as you curl up towards your chest and lower down towards your waist with control.
-Overhead press: This exercise strengthens the triceps, chest and rotator muscles while also improving posture. Start in a standing position while holding a handle in each hand extended over head; keep hands lightly touching throughout the exercise while pressing up on handles slowly then returning down with control.
-Lateral raises: These are perfect for strengthening shoulders while also engaging core muscles to keep proper form throughout entire exercise motion; start by bending knees slightly before extending right arm out to side with palm facing forward; lift up arm until it is parallel to shoulder or slightly higher then return to start position before switching arms (both sides should be evenly worked).

Resistance bands offer great versatility for those looking for an effective workout that helps both increase strength as well as reduce risk of injury from too much strain on certain joints or muscles. Stick to simpler resistance band exercises when soreness sets in and gradually incorporate more challenging ones into your routine once the discomfort starts to fade away!

Light Weight Training

Light weight training is a great way to reduce soreness after a workout or to prevent soreness altogether; however, it’s necessary to know how and when to use light weights. Weight lifting can be done either with free weights (dumbbells and barbells) or with machines. When selecting your weight for an exercise, choose a weight that is light enough that you can complete the set with proper form and still feel challenged, but not so heavy that your form suffers or you feel pain.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a weight that allows you to perform between 8-15 repetitions using good form. Moving at slower speeds than normal can also help minimize soreness because it reduces force production during each repetition. For example, if you normally lift with an explosive tempo (such as 1 second up, 1 second down), choose instead a lighter weight that allows you to slow the tempo down (1 second up, 3 seconds down). This will help prevent excess muscle damage and encourage muscle recovery while still providing an effective workout. Additionally, make sure your workouts are balanced so no single muscle group gets overworked; concentrating on multiple body parts will prevent any one area from becoming overly sore.

High-Intensity Exercise

High-intensity exercise can be an effective way to work out when you are sore, as it helps to reduce pain and improve mobility. High-intensity exercise can help to increase your range of motion, reduce inflammation and promote faster muscle recovery. It can also help to improve your cardiovascular health, promote proper form and technique, and improve overall athletic performance. Let’s take a look at some specific high-intensity exercises that can help you when you’re feeling sore.

Interval Training

Interval training is a form of high-intensity exercise that alternates short bursts of intense activity with periods of low intensity or rest. This type of exercise is a great way to add variety and challenge to your workouts, while still being relatively low impact. Interval training can also be an effective way to increase overall fitness level and aerobic capacity. The idea is to vary intensity levels within the workout by alternating between more difficult exertion bouts and easier “rest” bouts. By doing this, you’ll challenge the body in a different way and burn more calories than you would if you completed only steady-state cardio. Examples of interval exercises include sprinting, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) circuits, bands or medicine balls drills, swimming laps and burpees. Interval training should be performed at least twice per week for maximum benefits; depending on your goals three to four times per week is recommended for optimal results.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is a popular and effective form of high-intensity exercise designed to target the entire body with an array of challenging resistance exercises. Its main benefits include improved muscle strength and endurance, greater metabolic efficiency, increased coordination of the core muscles, enhanced fat burning ability, and overall improved health and fitness.

During a circuit training workout, you’ll typically do 8-15 exercises in succession which target different parts of the body. Each exercise should be followed by little or no rest before moving on to the next exercise. After completing one cycle through all of the exercises, you can then rest for 1-2 minutes before starting another circuit. This type of workout is designed to maximize efficiency and results, as the use of multiple muscle groups keeps your heart rate up throughout the session while effectively challenging each muscle group from a variety of angles.

Although this style of workout can be beneficial for both beginners and advanced athletes alike, it’s important to modify your routine according to your fitness level in order to remain safe during each exercise — if one specific move is too difficult or if you’re prone to injury, do not hesitate to choose an easier modification or substitute an entirely different move that works with your individual body better. Many fitness centers offer group classes that will help individuals with form correction or advice on how to safely perform each move without compromising results.


Plyometrics, also known as “jump training” or “plyos” is a type of explosive power-training exercise used to increase speed and strength. It requires a single long jump or multiple jumps in quick succession on the same spot. Plyometrics exercises force your muscles to contract with maximum power and effort in the shortest amount of time possible. It is a popular form of workout among athletes, as it helps them rapidly improve their performance in sports such as basketball, soccer, and football.

Plyometric exercises involve movements which stretch the muscles quickly followed by an immediate contraction which produces increased power and force. Examples of plyometric exercises include jumping jacks, box jumps, squat jumps, high knees drills, burpees, skater hops and jump squats.

When incorporating plyometrics into your workout routine it is important to begin with basic exercises first before attempting more complex ones like leap-frogs or depth jumps. Make sure you warm up properly before starting any type of strenuous exercise; this will help prevent injuries from taking place due to sudden rigor on your body’s joints and muscles. Start with low intensity movements and gradually increase over time to reach a higher intensity level. Plyometric training should only be done once every 5 days for most people as it can take up to 48 hours for full muscle recovery following an intense plyometric workout


Cool-down is an important part of any exercise routine, especially when you are feeling sore. It helps to reduce your risk of injury, as well as ease the transition of your body back to a state of homeostasis. Cool-down should be done after any workout and can range from low impact stretching and mobility exercises to gentle walks or bike rides. Let’s take a look at some of the best cool-down exercises to do when you are feeling sore.

Static Stretching

Static stretching helps you gently ease into a deep stretch and prolongs your body’s ability to perform at a higher level. It is important to hold static stretches for 30-60 seconds. When you are holding stretches, it’s important to avoid bouncing or jerking around; instead, hold each stretch for the full time and focus on supplementing the stretch with rhythmic breathing.

Static stretching can also be part of your cool-down routine and should be done after aerobic exercise or physical activity. This type of stretching increases range of motion, lengthens muscles, improves postural imbalance and encourages relaxation. It’s important to note that this type of stretching should not be painful; it should feel relaxed with each comfortable breath helping you reach deeper into the stretch. Some common static stretches include:

-Standing Hamstring Stretch
-Quadriceps Stretch
-Tricep Stretch
-Foam Rolling (for IT Band)
-Seated Glute Stretch
-Piriformis Stretch

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is an effective form of self-myofascial release that helps to relieve knots in muscles and promote circulation. Incorporating foam rolling into your post-workout routine can help improve flexibility, reduce soreness, and prevent injury. By using a foam roller regularly you can gain flexibility and reach muscles areas you may not usually be able to target with traditional stretching methods. Typically foam rolling should focus on the main muscle groups like the quads, calves, glutes, hamstrings and low back.

To begin a foam rolling routine, position yourself so that the painful spot is centered over the roller. Slowly roll back and forth on top of the roller with your body weight more heavily over it on each stroke. Pay attention to sensations like tightness or pain in spots that need extra attention. When you find those trouble spots, pause there for 15-20 seconds until there is an associated decrease in muscular tension. Repeat this process over all major muscle groups being sure to avoid direct contact with bony areas such as neck or tailbone

Foam rolling also allows you to manually massage trigger points with more accuracy than traditional massage techniques which are more generalized by comparison. If regular foam rolling does not provide enough relief for any particular area or knots within the muscle fibers have become so enlarged that manual massage is too uncomfortable then other alternative treatments such as lacrosse ball deep tissue release or electrical stimulation may be employed for further relief from residual soreness and fatigue .

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