If you can barely get out of your chair or climb a staircase in the days after a leg workout, you’re likely one of many lifters suffering from a nasty case of DOMS: delayed-onset muscle soreness. DOMS can affect any muscle group, but is often associated with leg training, due to the stressful eccentric muscle actions involved in squats, lunges, and leg presses.
20 minutes of steady state cardio has been shown to blunt the effectiveness of delayed-onset muscle soreness.
No matter how bad your DOMS may get, laying off workouts completely won’t make it any better—but stationary cycling will. A new study performed at California State University-Fullerton showed that subjects who performed moderate-intensity cardio on a stationary cycle immediately after a DOMS-inducing leg workout saw leg strength return to baseline a full day faster than did subjects who performed low-intensity cardio, or subjects who did nothing.
The study authors believe that moderate-intensity cycling increased blood flow to affected areas, which not only delivered nutrients to damaged muscle tissue, but also shuttled away the waste by-products of exercise (such as lactic acid) to help speed healing.
So, immediately after your next leg- training workout—and in each of the two or three days following that session—try 20 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling. You might not be thrilled about the prospect of riding a stationary bike, but you’ll thank yourself later.