Workouts When Your Legs are Sore

Hey hey! Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start. How was the weekend? I’d love to hear what you were up to. We went to an outdoor festival, had a little brunch playdate party with friends, and hit the road to Orlando! I’ll be back soon with a recap, but thought I’d pop in with a post about workouts you can do when your legs are sore. This is timely because I just did a Lean Machine leg workout a couple of days ago and I’m feelin’ the burn. 

Workout tips when your legs are sore

You can definitely file this one under “fit people problems”: you want to work out, but you have that sore swagger from your workout 1 (or even worse, 2) days before. After a killer leg day, it can be daunting to think about getting in a solid workout when you struggle to get in and out of your chair or up stairs following your workout. (We always joke that there should be a slide or a fireman pole to get us out of the yoga studio after barre class. The stairs are the worst ever.)

Workouts When Your Legs are Sore

Here are some ideas for workouts you can do when your legs are sore.

– Pilates. Pilates emphasizes core stabilization and working each joint through a full range of motion. This is a great way to relieve and stretch sore muscles, while still getting in a solid workout. Give this quick Pilates core workout a try.


– Yoga. In a yoga practice (power or restorative), you’ll hold poses and work in deeper stretches to bring some relief to those muscles. This study found that yoga can reduce intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness following workouts. 

Yoga with tommy

(Even better if your hottie husband joins you for class)

– An easy walk… or even better: HIIT. Soreness is one of those counterintuitive things. You don’t feel like moving, but you’ll feel a heck of a lot better if you do. Just shake your legs out with a neighborhood walk, or for more relief, do some sprint blitzes on the treadmill. Warm up for 5-7 minutes, then alternate sprint intervals (30 seconds) with walking (1 minute) for 15-20 minutes total. (As always honor your body and talk to your doctor about making fitness changes.) I know that when I muster the energy to go for it, I feel so much less achy after moving. 

– Stretch. The studies are mixed on whether it can prevent or relieve muscle soreness. My verdict: if it feels good to you and you enjoy it, do it! A simple rule of thumb: dynamic stretching and foam rolling BEFORE your workout, static stretching AFTER. Here’s a total body stretch you can try.

How to Prevent Extreme Muscle Soreness in the First Place:

– Warm up with moderate cardio before your intense workout. A good warmup will help wake up your muscles for the work at hand. You’ll increase blood flow to the muscles, move safely through proper form, lubricate your joints, gradually prepare your heart for exercise, increase oxygen to the muscles, and mentally get in the zone. I like to do moderate cardio for 5-7 minutes before any workout, and some functional bodyweight moves (squats, push-ups, pull-ups, planks) before strength. 

– Use proper form. Proper form will not only help to prevent muscle compensations and imbalances but will also help to keep you from injuring or straining yourself, which can be mistaken for “soreness.” 

-Ice then heat. Ice your legs during the day, then enjoy a warm bath later that night. 

– Hydrate appropriately. By drinking enough water, you’re replenishing the water lost during the workout and preventing dehydration, which can make muscle soreness even worse!

– Follow a balanced fitness plan + progress appropriately. Overtraining can definitely make your muscles feel more sore and set you up for overuse injuries and burnout. Make sure to alternate cardio intensities and give your muscles a break in between workouts (for example, don’t work your legs out 2 days in a row. They need about 2 days to repair and recover.).

Sleep mask

(My beloved sleep mask)

– Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep is just the best ever, for so many reasons, but lack of sleep can increase pain risk as we age. Just another reason to call it a night a little earlier. 

– Try some tart cherry juice. I’ve always been fascinated by these studies regarding tart cherry juice. It can help reduce muscle soreness, inflammation, improve sleep, and increase performance. It also has a nice, slightly tart taste. Check out one of my favorite tart cherry recipes here!

So, tell me friends: what workouts do you do when you’re sore? Anything you’ve found to help?

Stretching: yay or nay?


Fit Guide friends: your first month will be in your inbox at midnight tonight! It’s not too late to take the quiz and/or sign up here. 

Post Navigation:


  1. Nicole on April 30, 2018 at 7:52 am

    It’s like you read my mind!! I read this while crawling off the train on my morning commute because of an intense booty class a few days ago! You gave me the motivation to actually stretch/move through the DOMS, thanks girl!

  2. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups on April 30, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Oh the stairs after a serious leg day are the worst! Great tips. I have found that foam rolling makes a real difference for me as well.

  3. Colleen @ Frenchie Farm on April 30, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Love this! By the end of the day my legs are SO sore (I think we can call this “preggo problems” instead of “fit people problems”, ha) but still great suggestions 🙂

  4. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on April 30, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Sleep is so underrated when it comes to recovery and less caffeine too. Some very small tweaks can make the world of difference in recovery. Great tips lady!

  5. Laura on April 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Gina,
    First of all, congratulations on the fit guides! I’m really interested in joining the program but am 15 weeks pregnant. Are the guides (especially the at-home) one appropriate for preggos?

    Thank you!

  6. Kirsten @ little bites of my life on April 30, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    When my legs are sore from an intense work-out or loads of running, I swear by hot yoga or a nice warm bath with Epsom salts.

  7. Caitlin on May 1, 2018 at 12:06 am

    Great post! I eat bananas to avoid muscle cramping when I’m doing hard workouts!

  8. Madhu @ BestPlayGear on May 1, 2018 at 5:17 am

    Love this post. You are a mind reader 🙂
    I generally take Chia Seeds soaked in water at night.
    It helps in recovering from a strenuous workout faster

  9. Milania Dela cruz on May 1, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Great points!! I’m sore now and yoga is calling me!!

  10. Liv @ What Liv Likes on May 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    I swear my legs always get sore. It doesn’t even matter how heavy I’ve worked out. My hamstrings just hate me. I completely agree that yoga works wonders for this.

  11. Rhonda @ Change In Seconds on May 1, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Nice tips. Love it!

  12. Reghan on May 3, 2018 at 6:48 am

    I find I’m always up for a spin class even when I’m sore. Feels good to wheel those legs out!
    Stretching – yay! Stretching feels so good and somehow rewarding when you’re sore from a great workout 🙂

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.