Hurts, Sore, Burns. There is a BIG difference!

The fitness industry seems to have a language of its own. From goofy exercise names like burpees and skullcrushers to phrases like “can I get a spot?” or “what is your max?” Someone new would have no idea what these mean…

I wouldn’t be able to walk into a tax office and have a conversation about “AGI” and “withholding” without being a bit confused. But overtime , if I spent enough time there, I would catch on.

A full post of gym lingo will be coming soon, but today I would like to discuss something every gym-goer needs to know the difference between. The three words we will go over may seem similar, but there is a huge difference in the fitness world. Be sure to store these words in the back of your mind so the next time you are asked “how did that exercise feel?”, you can answer properly.


Feeling sore after a workout is normal, especially when first starting out. There are essentially two kinds of soreness:

  1. Mild Soreness: This occurs the day after a workout and is often referred to as the “good sore.” This soreness is what you want as it shows you challenged your body and got a good workout in. Advanced workers will feel this good soreness for about a day while beginners can feel it for up to 3-4 days.
  2. DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This kind of soreness typically comes two days after a workout, and is a more severe soreness. DOMS happens when you train a muscle harder than usual or if you haven’t worked out in a while. DOMS can last for a couple days and sometimes even up to a week. This is the kind of soreness that makes you say “I couldn’t walk for 3 days.”

Soreness does not occur during a workout unless you are a beginner and do something very advanced (which would cause some serious DOMS!). Most times, when you feel the “soreness” during a workout this means your muscles are overly fatigued and you should stop immediately. If you keep trying to push through, this can lead to injury.


Hurt is a word many gym-goers confuse with burn and sore. Hurt refers to doing an exercise that legitimately hurts a part of your body or performing something too advanced that leads to injury. For example, if you had shoulder surgery in the past and you are doing an overhead press, if you feel a sudden sharp pain in your muscle, that would indicate you are hurting your shoulder.

However, just because your shoulders are burning from the exercise does not mean it “hurts.” Many beginning gym-goers confuse “burn” and “hurt” and this can be very confusing for their workout partner and/or trainer.

Just because an exercise is hard does not mean it “hurts.” It means that you are pushing your body and ‘feeling the burn’…


Most times, this is what you will feel when working out. The burning sensation is not “hurt” or “soreness.”

The burning in your muscles is caused by lactic acid build up. The body produces lactic acid to indicate that you are taking your body to the brink or are getting close to failure. At some point in the exercise, your body will not be able to go anymore and you will have to stop.

The burning sensation during your exercises and workouts is what you want. This means you are challenging your muscles and body to get stronger so it can burn more fat and replace it with lean muscle!

For a guide on how to lose fat and replace it with lean muscle, be sure to CHECK THIS OUT!

As you can see, there is a big difference between the three words above. Learning these will greatly help you in your workouts as you will properly be able to explain the sensation you are feeling in your muscles.

If you have any further questions, be sure to drop a comment below!