Exercise Question: Why the DOMS?

*Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

I understand getting DOMS when you’re first working out and your muscles are unused to the exercise.

But why do I get DOMS when I take just a few days off working out?

I work out four times a week:
Tue: One hour Spin Class
Wed and Fri: One hour Body Pump
Sat: HIIT (and if Mistress Joy hasn’t thoroughly kicked my [increasingly toned and perky] butt) Body Pump follows so an hour and forty five minutes on Satruday.

I’ve been doing this for a few years. But whenever I take a week or two off for a vacation or surgery recovery and I resume my normal workout routine, it never fails: I have to drop my weights a tad in Body Pump and my muscles get very sore. This lasts about a week.

How can such a short time off derail so many months of consistent work?

I’ve seen figures of 10-20% loss of strength in just one week. This is total bed rest.
Deconditioning happens fast even if you’re otherwise active.

Well, that just sucks. I plan on writing a strongly worded letter to the manufacturer.

I do know I’ll recover quick, but it’s scary to know that all my hard work can be undone so quickly.

I have a similar workout schedule (BP 3x, Spin 2x) and the same thing happens to me if I take time off. I have to lower my BP weight or else I can’t complete the tracks. I wonder if age is a factor? Maybe the older you are, the quicker your body loses the strength.

Or maybe it’s more that you lose the endurance rather than the strength? The reason I wonder that is because I can build back up to using my my old BP weight in a week, but then it’s hard to make any progress after that. So it doesn’t seem like I’m really building strength back up because I can’t build strength that quickly.

[FYI, in anyone isn’t familiar with BodyPump, it’s a group class where you use low weights with a lot of reps to get an aerobic workout. A particular body part is worked out for each song (first is squats, next song is chest, etc). In total they say a class has 800-1000 reps. Although it can help build some strength, it seems to be more about building endurance to be able to lift the weight for the 3-4 minute track.]

Well, I don’t know about the low weights. There’s a lady in my class who’s gone through 2-3 rounds of Boot Camp at the gym and she is definitely toned and squatting more weight than I am. (I’m at 54 lbs when I get back up to speed, she’s around 60+).

Over my time at BP I have increased all my weights, but lunges are still a bear for me.

I guess ‘low’ is relative. The weights are low compared to what someone would typically do for a weightlifting workout, which might only be 12-15 reps. If you were only doing a handful of reps, you could have a lot more weight on the bar.

I’m sure that 54 pounds feels pretty light for the first 12 reps, but by the end of the track it feels more like 540 pounds. If you were just doing 12 squat reps, your weight might be 75-100 pounds or more. But from what I see in my class. that is pretty good for BP. Not too many women are squatting with that much weight.

I always consider it my comeuppance for taking a break from my fitness plan.

But shouldn’t we get brownie points for all the good work we did before? Yeesh.

There is the fact that lost fitness is regained faster than it took for the original gain.