1. As you stumble out of the gym (still high on endorphins), you relish in the afterburn of a great and exhausting workout.
That stiffness in your legs is the feeling of sweet satisfaction (and, well, lactic acid).
2. You make it home and need to get out of the car to walk inside. Your legs refuse to cooperate.
Then it really hits you—these DOMS are going to be hell, and it's already starting. (Might as well find out whether that muscle pain is a good or bad thing.)
3. Leg day is the ultimate excuse to plunk down on your bed/couch and not move for the rest of the night.
(Really, the only reason to ever get up is to grab a post-workout snack.)
4. But when you try to fall asleep that night, the dull burn in your legs keeps you from getting comfortable.
Sleep might be the key to good recovery, but it's basically impossible when your legs feel like lead.
5. You wake up, at first, forgetting about yesterday's workout. But as soon as you try to get out of bed, all the pain comes rushing back to you.
Walking isn't even an option.
6. You finally regain a little mobility, but your quads are still searing with pain.
How is it even possible that they hurt this much?
7. Simply moving from place to place becomes the hardest thing you'll do all day.
You have to get really creative.
8. Like, really, really creative.
9. And just face the fact that people will be staring at you all day, wondering what's wrong with you.
Luckily, other fitness people can spot your post-leg-day waddle a mile away.
10. And god forbid you find yourself on the floor—there's no getting up from that.
This is what is must feel like to be completely out of shape.
10. Actually, just getting up from a chair is a seemingly impossible feat.
No, I'm not being rude. I just physically can't stand up.
12. And stairs are just about the worst thing that can happen to you.
And, no, going down isn't any easier.
13. All you can do is wait for the pain to subside, so you can resume life as a normal human.
You're almost there.
14. But, surprise! The next day is even worse.
What doesn't kill you makes you (physically) stronger, right?
15. It isn't until the third (or fourth or fifth day) that you realize you can walk without waddling.
And, more importantly, you can finally admire your hard-earned gains. (P.S. here's why they probably look better after a rest day vs. on leg day itself.)
16. ...Just in time for tomorrow to be leg day again.