The phrase “no pain, no gain” is always associated with the gym. It’s commonly thrown out when someone is struggling through a tough exercise, or fighting for a few more reps. But as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, it’s a phrase I will never use.
The reason I don’t like the phrase “no pain, no gain” is because you should never experience pain during your workouts. There is a gym culture that promotes this kind of “workout until you die” idea that insinuates if you’re not feeling like you’re about to pass away after your workout, it wasn’t a good one. That’s simply not the case.
There are different types of workouts, with different intentions. There are workouts that are oriented to focus on a specific body part, and workouts that work the entire body. There are workouts designed to build strength while others are created to increase speed. There are workouts to put on mass and there are workouts to lose weight. Each one is designed a little bit differently to work the body in different ways. Yet in all of these workouts, you should never be in pain.
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There’s a big difference between feeling the burn and being in pain. You do want to feel the burn- you want to challenge yourself to the point where it’s not just going through the motions, but you have to pay mind and attention to each rep to complete it with good form. That burn signifies the changing of muscles, causing them to work harder than they have worked before. But if at any point that burn turns into pain, it’s time to stop. Immediately.
Pain is the body’s way of saying “something isn’t right.” Pushing through pain is never the answer, no matter how much you may want to complete your workout. Knowing the difference between the burn and the pain is only possible by you – if you are feeling pain and tell your instructor, if they tell you to keep going, sit down and evaluate the type of pain you’re really feeling. If it’s just hard, keep working. If it’s pain, stop immediately.
Your body is important – it’s the only one you’ve got. So take care of that thing. You want it to move smoothly and happily for as long as possible, injury-free and constantly improving. So ditch the “no pain, no gain,” motto and opt for “no burn, no earn,” which is less catchy but more accurate.