If you’re not sore after a chest workout the cause may be because you’re not performing exercises in a manner that maximizes chest muscle activity. Rethink your form by pulling your shoulder blades back and performing exercises slowly with a complete range of motion. Your chest workout will also benefit from working at optimal sets and reps as you gradually add weight to your exercises. However, keep in mind that sore muscles, especially in your lower back, are not necessarily the sign of a great chest workout.
Is it Bad if You’re Not Sore After a Chest Workout?
DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is often seen as a sign that you had a good workout. However, sore muscles affect everyone differently. For instance, those who work out regularly experience less extreme muscle soreness than beginners, even if they’re performing a much harder workout. Other individuals simply feel less soreness in certain muscles. Your chest muscles may get less sore than other muscle groups.
- Muscle soreness affects everyone differently—lack of soreness is not necessarily an indicator of a bad workout.
- More advanced athletes experience less soreness than beginners.
- Instead of focusing on soreness, focus on your progress as you get stronger and build chest muscle.
Although soreness can be a sign of a good workout and a signifier of muscle growth to come, don’t use soreness as a yardstick for your workout. Instead, ask yourself these questions. Are you progressing by lifting heavier weight and seeing changes in your physique? After all, fitness is what you’re after when you work out your chest, not soreness.
Are You Still Building Muscle if You’re Not Sore?
Soreness comes from muscle damage incurred during a workout. As your body repairs the muscle fibers that were pushed beyond their limit, they come back bigger and stronger. This means that if your muscles are sore, they likely got a good workout.
- Delayed onset muscle soreness arrives when your body works to repair muscles after a workout.
- Soreness is one sign that your body is building muscle.
- You can still experience muscular gains even if you do not have extreme muscle soreness.
However, the degree of muscle soreness isn’t necessarily a benchmark of how much muscle you’ll build. Your arms were probably extremely sore after the first time you did biceps curls, but after subsequent workouts, you were less sore. As your muscle fibers are repeatedly subjected to hard workouts you’ll often feel less soreness than you did as a beginner. However, you’re still gaining muscle.
Not Feeling Soreness After a Chest Workout? Here are 5 Fixes
If you’ve ever had T-rex arms after curls or couldn’t walk after working out legs, you may be expecting something similar when you work out your chest. When you’re used to soreness and it doesn’t occur, this can leave you wondering if you’re really benefiting from your chest workout. Here are some fixes to help you target your chest muscles. In most cases, they’ll result in increased soreness.
Maximize Form to Target Your Chest
Your chest may not be pushed to soreness if your weightlifting form does not maximize chest engagement. Poor form causes the arms and shoulders to take up much of the work of chest exercises such as the bench press. To correct this form:
- Pull your shoulder blades down and back throughout each chest exercise.
- Perform reps with the full range of motion—the barbell should touch your chest at the bottom of the bench press. Your arms should be fully extended at the top.
- Imagine squeezing a pencil between your pecs through each repetition.
These simple changes in form encourage chest muscle engagement. This leads to a tough workout, but one that is much better for you. Take time to learn the proper form for each exercise you perform. This will maximize your progress and probably provide you with sore chest muscles.
Try Cable Crossovers and Flyes
Exercises such as the bench press are compound movements that—when performed properly—recruit muscles throughout the body. In order to get the chest muscle soreness you’re looking for, try exercises that isolate the chest. Dumbbell flyes and cable crossovers are two examples of good chest isolation movements.
- Bench press is often hard for beginners to perform in a manner that targets the chest.
- Incorporate dumbbell chest flyes and cable crossovers into your routine to recruit the chest muscles directly.
- Good form reduces the role of secondary muscles and does a better job isolating the pectorals.
Keep in mind that even during exercises that target the chest, you will recruit other muscles. Your arms and shoulders will be used in all chest exercises. However, a focus on good form will deliver a better workout.
One reason you’re not experiencing a workout that provides chest muscle soreness may be because you’re performing your repetitions too quickly. Instead, move slowly on the bench press, cable crossovers, and dumbbell flyes. First and foremost, this will help you maintain good form throughout the exercise.
- Perform chest exercises slowly to maintain good form and activate your chest muscles.
- Working slowly also causes your chest to contract on the downward movement of exercises, creating a better workout.
- The eccentric contraction of slow downward movements causes more chest muscle soreness.
In addition to assisting in maintaining form, you’ll get a better workout by moving the weight in slow, controlled ways. Lowering the bar slowly to your chest during bench press causes the chest muscles to contract as they stretch. This is known as eccentric contraction. It not only provides a better workout, but eccentric contraction is also scientifically proven to cause more muscle soreness.
Optimize Your Chest Workout
One reason you’re lacking chest soreness may be because of your workout habits. For a strength-building chest workout, perform 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps of each chest exercise. Perform a total of 10–15 sets of chest work per week, split between 2 weekly chest workouts. This workload will build strength and likely result in muscle soreness.
- Perform 3–5 sets of 3–5 reps for each chest exercise to maximize muscular strength gains.
- Do 10–15 total sets of chest exercise as part of your weekly routine.
- Progressively overload your muscles by adding weight when you complete an exercise at the current resistance.
In addition to dialing in your sets and reps, provide your muscles with a constant challenge. You won’t continue to make gains by lifting the same weight. So, each time you complete your goal sets and reps at your current weight, add more weight the next time you perform this exercise. This core tenet of resistance training will ensure you continue to build muscle and strength. It’ll also encourage healthy muscle soreness.
Strengthen Your Secondary Muscles
One reason you may not be working your chest hard enough to feel soreness after your workout is because your secondary muscles may be giving out at low weights that don’t tax your chest muscles. Your front deltoids and triceps are key to performing most chest exercises. If these muscles are weaker than your chest, they may become exhausted sooner, causing you to lift less weight. This leads to a less complete chest workout and a lack of chest soreness.
- Front deltoid and triceps muscles used during chest exercises may give out sooner, causing you not to be able to lift heavy enough weight to fully work your chest.
- Work your shoulders and triceps to build strength and increase performance during chest exercises.
In order to prevent your secondary muscles from holding you back during chest workouts, build strength in your shoulders and triceps. In addition to chest exercises, perform 10–15 weekly sets of shoulder-specific exercises and 10–15 weekly sets of tricep-targeting exercises. These muscles will improve your performance on chest exercises, allowing you to lift more weight and more fully activate your chest.
Why is Your Chest Not Sore After a Workout?
Your chest may not be sore after a workout for several reasons. The most common reasons are:
- You are performing chest exercises with poor form that does not target the chest muscles.
- You need to incorporate more chest-isolation exercises into your workout.
- You are performing reps too quickly, reducing the effectiveness of your chest workout.
- You are not performing adequate sets and reps to exhaust your chest muscles.
- The secondary muscles in your shoulders and arms are weaker than your chest.
Although muscle soreness is not in itself a sign of a great workout or increased athletic performance to come, it’s important to make sure you are getting the most out of your chest workout. By addressing the deficiencies above, you can maximize your chest workout. Just don’t blame us when you’ve got tight muscles the day after you hit bench and flyes.