“No pain, no gain!”, “Train insane or remain the same!”, ” Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going”, “Pain is weakness leaving the body”, “If it’s not hurting it’s not working”, and one of my “favorites”, “Don’t quit. You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.”
Sweet mother of heaven. Stop. It.
I won’t go on with these anymore, but let’s just say these types of quotes abound. And it’s not just that they are quotes, but also ways that many in the health/fitness world live by.
If you aren’t in pain, then you aren’t working hard enough, doing enough. This thought translates to telling you that you aren’t really getting anywhere.
First though, I’m not talking about working hard because I know what that’s like and I know how to push myself. I love a good challenge and don’t mind waking up the next day and knowing I worked hard. I know when to push and when to back off, especially if it’s pushing to hard that could potentially cause injury whether it’s on the road running or lifting weight that might be out of my zone. I do myself no favors working in a place my body isn’t used to. I get no extra points and I’m certainly not going to do it for bragging rights and what does it prove to myself, or anyone for that matter, if I derail my workouts because it hurts to move my body?
We have limits. We all do.
And yes, I understand I need to constantly be moving out of my comfort zone and I think anyone should have that mentality if they want to continue to get stronger, faster, and improve their athletic performance.
You just won’t make progress if you can’t get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
However, It’s important to know where you are and how much you can press into that, and then back off when you need to allowing your body time to adapt and adjust to the new demands you put on it.
The danger of the mentality of working out till you’re fainting or in pain or having other physical issues is that you can cause more damage than “gains”.
Do you really want to push yourself to a point that you are injured and then get sidelined and can’t do anything? Do you really think being in real pain and continuing a work out is a smart move? Do you want to do so much you can hardly walk the next day?
I think not.
Let me be clear here. There is great value in working hard, getting our heart rate up and letting the sweat roll and the general population should be doing it regularly.
Here’s the deal. You don’t have to do a killer workout every time you are out there.
Athletes don’t do it, so why are trainers preaching this gospel to the average person wanting to get fit ?
It can be a dangerous game to play . I mean, no pain means no improvement to us, right? Isn’t that what all those little fitspo quotes mean ?
Nonsense. Consistency and regular movement will yield results.
The important thing is to find balance that works for your body, mind, and lifestyle.
So if the idea of pain and suffering for gain is not where it’s at, what should you do?
Learn to turn it up
Know where you are, know your limits, and be willing to turn it up from there. Don’t be afraid of working hard and pushing outside your comfort zone.
Understand that working outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean suffering through pain that hurts you.
If you’re in real pain, for goodness sake, stop! If you’re in pain and hurting the only “gain” you risk is getting sidelined from an injury.
There’s no heroics in that.
Work hard, but know your goals
Obviously, we are all on different health and fitness paths. The most important thing is to know what you want. Where are you going? Is it for health that you are working out? To walk a strong mile and not feel like you’re dying? To be able to run some? To improve your daily life? Keep up with your kids?
Do you want more? Are you wanting to train for an event like a half marathon or a Crossfit competition? Then your goals will look different.
Perhaps you are wanting to do something related to fitness competitions. Again, a new set of goals to get to your destination.
No matter what your reasons or goals, there should never be the mentality that it’s not a good workout if you aren’t fainting, in pain, and hurting all over.
There’s a fine line of a body that has worked hard, and one that has been pushed beyond what is it capable of at that point in time.
Work hard, but work smart.
So how should you train?
You know yourself better than anyone. If you’re just getting off the sofa and starting to move, you need to be sensitive to the fact your body is going to protest! Go easy and be moderate in what you do. Allow time to adapt to your new plan. It can take a couple weeks to ease into a new program.
If you’re already in some type of activity or training for something, don’t be afraid to keep pushing out of your comfort zone. Just listen to your body.
Pain, or any feelings of not feeling well, should be respected.
Rest days are when gains are really made
I will admit, I’m at the top of the charts at chomping over rest days. If you don’t know what that means, it’s usually a scheduled day/days off to allow the body to recover from it’s activities.
Exercise is such a habit for me now, that taking a rest day can make me feel like I forgot to brush my teeth.
I have however, learned more about the importance of taking some and know that rest days don’t mean “lazy” ( do nothing and eat pizza days) but more of an active recovery time.
I may do short walks, or focus on stretching and foam rolling my muscles.
During those rest/recovery times our muscles rebuild and that’s when they grow and get stronger. These days allow us to hopefully, head back to what we love, stronger and feeling more energized for what we do.
You get no extra points for skipping rest days. In fact you do your body a disservice by not allowing it that time. Rest days allow your muscles, bones, nerves, and connective tissues time to heal and rebuild.
Rest days can also help prevent burn out, mentally and physically.
Schedule rest days as a part of your workout regime.
I know this doesn’t fit into the ” no pain no gain” ideal, but you’re not participating in that anyway, are you ?
Keeping it healthy
If you want to enjoy whatever your fitness path may be, then you will learn to:
~ work hard, but listen to your body. Pace yourself.
~ push out of your comfort zone but stop if you have pain that is hurtful. Discomfort is different from pain.
~ set realistic goals for yourself and know and understand the limits of where you currently are.
~ schedule planned rest days to allow your body ( and mind) some rest and recovery time.
By having a smart mentality you will be able to do what you love, hopefully without pain or injury, and get stronger in the process.
Tell me. Have you ever been a part of the no pain, no gain club? How did that work for you? Do you have any healthy training tips to offer ?