When we exercise, we are placing our body under (a good) stress. It will create micro-tears within our muscles and when they repair that he how our muscles grow and develop. Along with that we can get something called DOMS aka Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This can happen anywhere from 24 to 74 hours after exercising. Experiencing DOMS is very common, especially for someone who is new to training. They aren’t a sign of how “fit” or in shape you are, it is simply your body adapting to a new or different type of demand. It is OK to continue to work out with DOMS, in fact, moving can help reduce the pain but you might want to work on a different muscle group to let your other muscles recover. However, DOMS should feel more like a stiffness and after a few minutes of moving around in your warm-up, it should start to ease. If it doesn’t then you could potentially be looking at a strain or an injury and it is always best to seek the advice of a physiotherapist.
Rest days are incredibly important. It is when we rest that we give our muscles the opportunity to repair the micro-tears we created during exercise. Skipping rest days can lead to injury as we are placing repetitive strain on our muscles, and they are not getting the opportunity to repair. Nutrition plays a big role in recovery, especially protein. Having a diet higher in protein will directly “promote growth, repair damaged cells and tissue” (Kreider and Campbell, 2009).