DOMS and getting in the gym

is it possible to avoid gym doms by building up slower over a few weeks? my last forray in the gym began with a 7 day paralysis, struggling with the toilet seat squat :man_facepalming:

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I’m new to strength training. I’ve tried a few different things over the years and always found the same issue no matter the program or speed…your body has to get used to the movement first…then you’ll work on actual strength training.

So, if your goal is to build leg strength through squats and lunges, you can go as slow as you want but at some point you have to get the movement to be the full range of motion…and that’s it’s own set of DOMS.

If your body isn’t used to locking out the arms for an overhead motion, you’ll experience that DOMS feeling until you’ve got the range of motion needed to lock out the arm.

Once you get past the range of motion issues, I do feel it’s possible to strength train without DOMS, but your progress will be slower. YMMV and many will disagree with me, but this has been my experience.


You’ve got to go lift and feel like you did practically nothing and then you’ll only have a little bit of DOMs that won’t take 7 days to get over. You probably have to do that for a month or two or more. It’s going to take more than a couple weeks.


In my experience you have to start very easy. As AJS914 mentioned you have to feel like you did pretty much nothing. I started with no more than 30lbs on any machine and did 3 sets of 8 reps on each of the exercises I chose to do that would form my overall workout. I did that for two weeks before upping the weight by 5 lbs for another two weeks. I just kept following that routine until I had maxed out most of the machines over a fairly long time.
I follow this same procedure any time I have a break from the gym of more than 3 to 4 weeks. How much I lower the weight depends on how long the break is.

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Yes. As the posters above noted, if you start gradually enough you can avoid it. When I started lifting I was squatting 3x5 at… 45 lbs, similar for bench/OHP (95 for deadlift, though I won’t use less than 135 now for warmups) Felt silly at first but it avoided DOMS; also gave me time to work on technique. 3x per week adding weight each session it gets to more reasonable levels pretty quickly.


At least for me the frequency of strength training affects how severe DOMS I get.
Now during off-season when I’m at the gym 3 times a week I get almost zero soreness, more like slightly tired feeling legs that don’t affect cycling at all.

As someone said best cure for DOMS in the legs is another leg workout.

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Yes, just make sure you keep the volume and intensity much lower than you think you need.

As a personal trainer, I always get newbies on the lower intensity and volume side at the start. Some DOMs is expected, but your focus at the start should be on technique vs trying to hit 0-2 RIR

This is bro science.
The best cure for DOMS is to not get it in the first place, the next best cure is rest and mobilization/recovery.

No one here would advocate for doing multiple intense workouts back to back if you had not recovered properly from the first one, I’m not sure why people believe it is any different for strength trainijng.

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Sure. But you can still be mostly recovered from the workout but still have sore legs. If you wait 2 weeks to feel fully normal and hit the legs again you’re going to be really sore again. I’m not advocating doing back to back strength workouts, just start light but have enough frequency in the workouts to get used to them.

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Decided to undergo some S&C this autumn winter and my first few workouts my legs were in bits, 2nd week and it passed. Gone a bit heavier in week 3 and the doms is there but not as bad. So I guess it’s just getting through those first couple of weeks and not going too heavy too quick.

I’m doing this programme as a means of working all the muscles (it’s been a while!), before I start actually moving some proper weight. At 5”11 and 68kg my muscle mass is pretty low.

My tactic when I get back to doing any strength training it spend my first session without any weight at all.


I just want my body and joints and muscles to get used to the range of motion.

Then I add weight very slowly. Like an unladen bar for squats. Or just concentration curls for biceps done really slowly.

I know there’s an embarrassment factor in using no weights. But that’s better than hitting the weights and then having a week off with DOMS. And then starting again.

If you and I both started the same day, you’d hit the weights then have 7 days off. I’d have done a no weights session and then 2 more workouts by then…


Fully agree. A couple weeks of ‘adaptation’ is critical

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2 session done so far and minimal DOMS. although 2 very light kettlebell straight leg dead lift sets and the hams were tight the next day. weak as water :rofl::rofl:

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Start with ridiculously low weight and increase every 2-3 days such as:

I can only reiterate what others have said. Drop your weights by a lot. You should not come out of the gym wrecked. You are not training to be a bodybuilder.

I never go to failure and never go hard enough to have doms. That doesn’t mean I don’t lift hard, but I don’t push myself to that level. Leave the ego at home and drop the weights to like 50% and start a reasonable build.

I only lift 2 days a week and have used the TR (Coach Chads) core lifts as a general guideline (though I do a few other things as well). I’m happily at a strength level for squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bench between the “All-rounder” and “Sprinter” for my weight (well, goal weight as I’m actively trying to lose fat). My strength levels started at the “Climber” level or lower, and I slowly added weight every week or two, and now I’m happy with my strength level. I only train twice a week and never go so hard that I have doms, or can’t walk up or down the stairs.

You can’t totally avoid DOMS if you haven’t been lifting but you can minimize it by starting slow with light weights. Just pick a weight you can lift for 15 reps and do 1 set of all the exercises you want to include in your workout. Repeat this 2 times per week, say on a Monday and Friday. After a couple of weeks start increasing the weights and/or add another set of reps. But to hold off DOMS you need to work the muscle group twice per week…consistency is the key.

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