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JONES: Muscle soreness: The first shall be last

Dear Doug,

Mahalo for your continued Health & Hope coaching. Thanks to you, I’ve been working out regularly since January. Long story short, I used to get really sore the day after my workouts, but I don’t anymore. Does this mean that I’m no longer getting the same results as I did when I started? I like being sore to know that I’ve done something.

Penny (for your thoughts) from Po‘ipu

Aloha Penny,

Congrats on your resolve for 2024! Without knowing any details, I’m going to intuitively assume that you’ve been following the smartest, simplest, speediest and safest scientific solutions shared in my columns to date. Kudos.

As a result, you are aware that strength training is the secret to fitness, function and fat loss. More importantly, you’ve learned that slowly lowering weight is the super duper secret to strength training. You know that lengthening muscle, under tension, by slowly lowering weight, moves the ends of a muscle away from its center. For myriad motives, incorporating this off-center “eccentric muscle action” should be the foundation of every fitness regimen, as it is truly the best way to exercise for everybody and every body.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let me take this moment to plagiarize myself by sharing a section from one of my books, “Exercise Your Eccentric Genius … in Strength.” Please read each paragraph below a couple of times. Even the concept of ‘slowering lowering’ is eccentric in and of itself. Slow down! Slow down! Slow down!

So, right from the horse’s mouth, enjoy Doug’s two cents for a Po‘ipu Penny:

Let me be the first to break the news: Eccentrics is able to make your muscles sore like no other form of exercise, with an intrinsic ability to transform muscles literally overnight. Thankfully, soreness is always temporary and not always mandatory.

Resisting a resistance as muscles lengthen (the foundation of Eccentrics in Strength) is the primary mechanism responsible for beneficial muscle “damage.” Short-term destruction is countered with long-term construction. In other words, Eccentrics provides the temporary stimulus for more permanent structure and strength.

Even though Eccentrics can feel deceptively easy, you may soon be reminded of just how hard it really is, and was. Lengthening muscle by lowering weight is the internal instrument that instigates soreness, specifically termed Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

For a period of 1-5 days after your first hard Eccentrics workout, if you’re normal, you’re really going to feel it. Like you, some people enjoy this feeling. Most don’t. Regardless, if you choose to increase the intensity of your exercises too quickly, you will become sore. To help avoid this feeling, please progress very slowly.

Additionally, with DOMS, what you feel is what you get, as there is no conventional preventative or recuperative measure of merit. Warming up, cooling down, stretching before, stretching after, packing ice, padding heat, or even taking anti-inflammatory medications offer little relief. You might feel better, but you’ll still feel sore.

However, with Eccentrics, soreness is always temporary and transient. In addition to being the best type of exercise for inducing soreness, Eccentrics also has the privilege of being the only type of exercise for preventing soreness. Yes, the activity that gives the gift of DOMS in the present is the exact same activity that rewards, with reprieve of DOMS, in the future. Eccentrics both causes … and cures.

When you first exercise intense Eccentrics, you will no doubt become sore. When you again exercise Eccentrics, you will no longer become sore. Your tremendous results will continue, as you realize more gain with less pain.

For any given exercise, or exercise intensity, your first stretch of soreness should also be your last. Eccentrics actually inoculates muscles against DOMS for up to several weeks, perhaps by destroying the weakest fibers in the muscle, which are subsequently replaced by more resilient ones. These new muscle cells resist and reduce future muscle damage and soreness.

That said, if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them … so stay consistent. If, by choice or by chance, you ever take a few weeks off from your regular routine of Eccentrics, prepare to be sorely reminded of your hiatus.

When you “Exercise Your Eccentric Genius,” you simultaneously create and prevent muscular soreness, thereby training outside of your comfort zone once, and for all. Just as the good book says, the first… shall be last.

“Walk & Talk” update: To celebrate our one-year anniversary, it’s finally time to “Bike & Hike.” Please visit my website for details.


Doug Jonesearned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and has served professionals and personalities as a concierge fitness trainer for decades. As a resident of Kaua‘i and Connecticut, he has helped millions of people learn the secrets of fitness and fat loss, both online and in person. To submit your questions, or for more information, call (808) 652-6453 or visit
Source: The Garden Island

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