If your trainer, therapist, doctor has ever said the above statement to you in reference to your workouts, well, to put it simply... RUN!
I have no idea how this phrase got its start or who first coined it, BUT darn, you want to talk about a few words that have to lead to massive amounts of damage in the human body over the years... well there ya go. "No pain, no gain" is at the top of the list.
Where did this bro science way of thinking about strength training get started?
Thinking back to the beginning of the fitness industry and how rooted it was in the bodybuilding world at the beginning, I would venture a guess that this is where this saying got hold and spread. Now for all my beloved meatheads out there, I poke fun here and you know I have great respect for what you have created with your bodies. Perhaps this statement might hold a little bit of slight truth to it. Let's say, "No Mild to High Discomfort, No Gain"... is that fair?
If you are reading this and your average body fat for the year is over 15%, you do not fall into the above-referenced group of "beloved meatheads". You my friend, as of this moment, are average. AND that is great news!!
"Average" can be sustainable and pain-free.
Listen, there is no need once so ever to push through pain when working out. Notice I said "pain", not "discomfort". I would qualify pain as any sensation other than fatigue that shows up in muscle tissue or joint on one side of your body while lifting. That is not supposed to happen. That is a warning sign! Pull the car over, and get it looked at.
Now for all my average people (myself included) the intention of working out is to get "stronger", aka - elicit a positive change in your tissues ability to tolerate load. The notion that this needs to involve pain is kind of crazy. There should be a mild and even discomfort at the end of the set, and a mild swollen feeling at the end of the set. As you demand more from your muscles, your body will send blood rich in nutrients and other key elements that are needed to increase strength. This is the beginning of you getting stronger!
The next step is to go take a nap.
It may sound a little odd for a fitness guy to be telling you this. So maybe not right at that moment BUT remember and a lot of people miss this you need to get adequate sleep on your workout days. When you sleep, your body is then able to put all the nutrients in your muscles to good use and this is when you will actually get stronger.
Sounds relatively painless, right? Good, it should be!
Working out does not need to hurt to be effective!
The takeaway: Working out does not need to hurt to be effective in creating the response you are looking to elicit in your body. And understand that when we do have pain present in our workouts, we are likely creating an environment in our tissue that is not conducive to sustainable results.
I'll cover the inflammation and pain response in a later post so you can have a clear idea of what is going on if you are interested.
Workout smarter, not harder!
Yours in health,
Kevin Votta and the Team at Fitness-Tek