148 – Felipe Damas PhD On The Relationship Between Muscle Damage, Muscle Soreness, and Muscle Hypertrophy

Dr Felipe Damas earned his doctorate at the University of São Paulo and McMaster University. Nowadays, he’s a postdoc at the Federal University of São Carlos researching exercise physiology, specifically on muscle adaptations to resistance training, focusing on mechanisms such as muscle damage, muscle protein synthesis, satellite cells, to better understand muscle hypertrophy.

Dr Felipe Damas

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In this episode, we cover:

  • The relationship between acute muscle damage and muscle hypertrophy
  • The time course of the recovery and super compensation process
  • Optimal training programming
  • … and much more

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Comments 11

  • Great episode. I’ve been guilty of chasing DOMS in the past! I think there’s also great utility in sub failure sets in building neuro muscular adaptations.

  • Great episode Lawrence.

    What I have taken from this is that its probably best to stick to the same routine for a significant period of time and less frequency may actually be more productive. Have I interpreted that correctly?

    I have recently had my second child so have been rather busy, sleep deprived etc and reduced my frequency from twice to once a week (BBS big 5) and actually feel my body composition has improved slightly. Despite the lack of sleep and eating more crap than I would normally.

    • Thanks Matt. I don’t think you can draw a conclusion on frequency and routine programming in this episode. The crux of this episode is that Damas et al study concluded that muscle hypertrophy is the result of accumulated intermittent changes in MyoPS post-RE in RT, which coincides with progressive attenuation of muscle damage.

      One takeaway is that trying to chase muscle damage / soreness might not be that important which may benefit some people in terms of long term compliance to training.

      Congrats on your second child :D. I think reducing your frequency could be a smart move in view of the additional stressors.

  • Hi Lawrence – great episode – very focused and powerful thoughts coming out of this one. It made me realise that once I am used to a routine and the soreness is no longer apparent- then maybe that is the point when things have bedded in and the benefits are starting to come. Here’s an article from Carl Juneau from a couple of days ago which seems to be in agreement with Felipe (why not get Carl on your podcast Lawrence, I’d love you to play devil’s advocate with him around his concept of ‘effective reps’ – which I happen to agree with!) https://www.strongerbyscience.com/muscle-damage/

  • Interesting…

    There was a segment of the HIT community that talked/wrote a lot about the real versus the assumed objective of exercise. Despite this, it seems many HIT practitioners lose site of the ultimate objective (trigger a desired adaptation, i.e, grow bigger/stronger muscles), and get caught up in judging the quality of workouts by the immediate aftermath. How often do we hear about how HIT workouts will kick your ass, and are supposed to leave you collapsed on the floor (carpet time). Remember how some would illustrate the intensity of properly done HIT workouts by repeating the stories of how Arthur Jones could get well conditioned athletes to puke after just 3 or 4 exercises And, as Felipe says, how many relished DOMS as a measure of success? (I will plead guilty to having done that at one point). I suppose it is human nature to look for immediate grafification and feedback.

    In so far as DOMS and frequency are concerned: my experience suggests that waiting a week or more between identical workouts usually leads to more DOMS. I wonder how long it takes for the repeat bout effect to wear off, and how much this varies among individuals?

    • Thanks Greg. I think carpet time is OK in moderation so long as one is aware of the demands of their lifestyle, stress, recovery from previous workout, etc. Quite a few HIT practitioners seem to still adopt the rush method between machines to attempt to optimise the metabolic conditioning component.

      Yes, so many people still look for DOMs as a sign they worked out hard. I get DOMs from basketball in my upper back when I haven’t played in a few weeks and that’s very low intensity. I use DOMs to help inform my recovery requirements in a sort of intuitive approach to recovery between training and readiness.

      Great question regarding the RBE. Perhaps one for another podcast 😀

  • More from Felipe Damas PhD:

    “I remembered the question you asked that I forgot to answer. It was about changing exercises and muscle damage/repeated bout effect. We talked a little about that in our letter “to the best of our knowledge, there is no empirical evidence that ‘strategies’ (e.g., changing resistance training variables – volume, intensity, exercises) could overcome the repeated bout effect and further increase or even maintain an initial level of muscle damage. Accordingly, Zourdos et al. (2015) demonstrated that changing elbow flexors exercises between training sessions does not minimize the repeated bout effect.”

  • Nice one! I guess it’s validation of the old HIT reccomendation – Brief, Intense and Infrequent workouts… Do not overextend your sets, Stick with the good exercises – safe and productive ones (there are only so much of these after all), keep some distance between workouts for the same muscle, in order to secure a “novelty effect” from the same exercises and monitor the overall workout session volume, in order to keep the system overall fatigue in check. Face the reality, that if you have not become a monster after five years of training, chances are, you will never become one :))))

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