Riding on Sore Legs

Rider Question

Hi Graeme, 

I'm on my third week of your CYCLO90 Masters Base and after a few of the HIT40 sessions or the IRON workouts I get pretty sore legs and sometimes other places as well.  Should I be doing the in-ride workouts when I'm sore?  What happens if I miss a workout in the program?  So far it's been a great fit for me and really getting a lot stronger.  Thank you."  --Valerie Richmond

Great question and one that has more than one answer depending on your situation and timing.  I have a few tips and suggestions for this common issue.

Graeme's Answers and Suggestions:

Soreness is a Good Thing...Usually.

Even though my CYCLO90 Masters program is designed to stimulate and recover your body in a timely way; in the early stages of any good program, soreness can and will occur.  

This is expected and usually, required for future progress.  It's your body's signal that the stimulus (workout) was adequate enough to cause degradation and subsequent adaptation of strength.  In a nutshell, soreness is a good thing....until it's not.

As you get stronger with a good training program, the soreness should subside with frequency, until the demand begins to go back up.  The trick is to know when soreness is a good thing and when it becomes detrimental or is a signal of not enough rest.

In general, minor soreness to the touch for 24-48 hrs post workout is OK.  If it continues or worsens to the point of pain, then your body is signalling that more rest is required.  

NOTE:  This will change per person, time of year, diet, and stress.  

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Always Listen to Your Body!  Always.

Soreness is a great signal, however, when you are sore, appropriate recovery is in order.  I designed my CYCLO90 Masters Base program to make sure that recovery using the CORE 2.0 workouts is added in the right places.  However, your body is NEVER WRONG and if your soreness is hindering your walking, stair climbing, etc then taking EXTRA REST days is warranted.

If you have an in-ride workout planned (outside ride) or trainer ride and you feel your legs are simply too sore to ride, you are always right to take an extra recovery day.  Remember, a non recovered muscle is a weakened muscle.

Use Auxiliary Recovery More Often and More Creatively

If you find yourself getting sore after HIT sessions, HARD RIDES, etc then I recommend:

  • Extended Cool Downs on the Bike.  Add an Extra 15-20 minutes of low level cycling after your harder workouts and rides.  This can make a HUGE DIFFERENCE!
  • Using the ZEN Recovery Yoga more often, maybe twice a week.  Just added to SOULO.TV!
  • Use the CORE 2.0 RECOVER in smaller pieces, split up over the day.  Especially after harder rides.
  • Sometimes adding in the ZEN 2.0 Fix the Back Stretch is a good option if you're sore from the CORE and/or IRON workouts.

Kate's Recovery Yoga Just Added to SOULO.TV.  

Click Here for this Popular and Effective Workout.

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Sometimes, Soreness is the Goal!

Download the STAMINA, FAST, and MASTERS BASE System

Now, even though everything I just stated is 100% true, there are times when achieving soreness or muscle breakdown IS THE GOAL of the training, for a particular goal or time-frame.

This is most prevalent in my Cyclo-STAMINA 7-Day Endurance Training protocol (here for download for annual SOULO.TV members).  It is also used and expected in my Cyclo-FAST 7-Day Speed Training program (download here.)

The reason that soreness without proper rest can be a GOOD THING, once your base training is complete, is that your body can handle more stress and thus, requires changes in frequency of intensity and rest to further stimulate growth.

This is the Over-Reaching (Super compensation) SECRET of most high end athletes, but it needs to be met with CAUTION!

Just because occasionally over-reaching or over-stimulating your body is a good thing, it can also be a horrible thing if over-used or not respected!  In fact, the over-use of this powerful tactic is probably the number one reason why many cyclists fail to improve come the in-season.


1.  If you're feeling too sore and tired from a previously hard workout, always better to skip the next workout can come back to it in 24 hrs.  Always better to skip a workout and come back fresh than to do a poor workout because you are unrecovered.  ALWAYS.

2.  If you're slightly sore, but feeling strong and you've been making steady progress it's OK to train.

3.  When you are priming for a hard event, occasional sessions with tired or sore legs is essential for peak growth, however always go back to rule 1 when in doubt.

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