“No Pain, No Gain.” We have all heard this before. What does it mean to you? If you are a person who does not enjoy working out, it probably reinforces the negative emotions you have already attributed to exercise. On the other hand, if you are a gym-rat, you probably believe that there is honor and dignity in torturing yourself on a daily basis.
My brother, Mike, used to say “No Pain, No Pain” in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Although after becoming a Certified Athletic Trainer it became more of a mantra than a joke to him.
Listen, we really need to use some common sense. As you know, common sense ain’t so common. I believe the “No Pain, No Gain” movement has done more to harm than help. Yes, I just said that. My bodybuilding friends will probably tar and feather me on social media tonight but, yes, I said it.
I will acknowledge that there is a degree of discomfort that comes with exercise. There is some heavy breathing, sweating, muscle burn, fatigue and other symptoms that are associated with exercise. Let’s face it, You need to provide a stimulus for your your body to respond to that will require adaptation. Adaptation is growth, and that is why we exercise.
But the real question is “How much discomfort?” Hmmmm. This is where I think that both ends of the spectrum get it wrong. The non-exerciser uses a slight bit of discomfort as an excuse to not do it. The gym-rat sees pain as the primary indicator of progress.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. There is a range of discomfort based on your goals. If you are just trying to drop a few pounds your level of suffering will be substantially lessened in comparison to a competitive athlete.
That should make sense to you, right? You want to lose a few pounds, you start a walking program and start tightening up your diet a smidge. You want to compete with the best in the world, you crush every training session with every ounce of energy you have and you eat as if every morsel has a purpose.
Pain is our bodies way of communicating. Pain is like your body sending you an email. Some emails are spam and should be ignored. Some emails are very important and need to be prioritized.
The minor muscle soreness associated with training needs to be ignored (or at least recognized as unimportant) and the pain of injury needs to be heeded with urgency.
I’m gonna make a statement that I have made thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of times to my clients. Are you ready? Here goes. “If you are injured, you can’t train. If you can’t train, you can’t make progress.” I’m gonna let that sink in for a minute.
I had this conversation with my bodybuilding client , Keith, the other day. Hey Keith. He has an arm issue going on. We discussed a couple of options for him to continue to train without aggravating the injury but the bottom line was, I told him not to train his arms if there is pain. A week off is not going to hamper his progress but continuing to train while injured will. No-brainer here!!!!!
Use common sense. Train like a beast (this saying is getting seriously old). But know when to take a day off. Listen to your body when it tells you there is something more than muscle soreness going on. Interpret the emails you get from your body. It has been sending emails to you before emails existed.