Health Tips > Fitness Files > No Pain, No Gain. Myth or Fact?

No Pain, No Gain. Myth or Fact?

View All Section Pages

No Pain, No Gain. Myth or Fact?

We’ve heard it for years: “no pain, no gain.” It’s a nice saying, but is it really the motto to follow in your workout program? Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer David H. Williams says “no.”

If “no pain, no gain” is your motto at the gym, you could be setting yourself up for serious injury. “People need to understand within their body what pain is,” said Williams. “There’s a difference between discomfort and pain.” And often times, pain is a symptom of more than a hard workout—it indicates an injury.

Is there such a thing as a “good sore” during a workout? It’s possible, says Williams. For example, if you are working to build strength and endurance in your legs with a squat workout, you may experience some burning in your muscles during exercise. That burn is the lactic acid moving out of the muscles and the feeling should go away 30 seconds to one minute after you stop exercising. According to Williams, this is the only form of pain during a workout that is acceptable and sometimes even necessary. Long-lasting pain or soreness for days after a workout is unnecessary and can lead to overtraining and injury.

“You don’t have to have pain to get results,” said Williams.

Another misconception about pain during a workout is that if you experience pain during exercise, you simply need to work through it. What you really need to do is to rest those muscles, said Williams. “Resting is just as important as the workout itself, and is the only way to ensure your muscles are ready to go the next time you hit the gym.”

Pain and Exercise FAQs

When is pain a red flag?
If you experience sharp, acute pain that occurs quickly, rather than gradually building during your workout, like the burn from lactic acid, or if your pain lasts for days after exercise, that’s a warning sign to stop your workout out and seek medical attention. Choosing to push through your pain can increase the severity of an injury and the last thing you want to experience during your fitness journey is an injury that sets you back for days, weeks or even months.

What is the measure of a good workout?
Rather than judging your daily exercise by how sore you are the next day, there are other means of tracking your progress. What’s the best way to measure a good workout? “Quantify it,” said Williams.
During a weightlifting workout, for example, keep track of how much weight you are lifting with each exercise and how many repetitions you complete. The next time you are doing the same exercise aim to top those numbers.  

How do you know you’ve reached your limit?
You don’t have to experience pain to know you’ve reached your limit. When posture and technique become compromised due to fatigue, it’s time to give it a rest. “Anything that puts your body in a compromised position where it could get hurt is a sign it’s time to stop,” said Williams. The best way to be sure you are maintaining proper posture and technique during your workout is to work with a professional fitness trainer who can spot a breakdown in form and posture during your workout. Muscle shaking and nausea are other physical indicators that you’ve reached your max for the day. 

It is also important to communicate with your trainer and let him or her know what kind of pain you might be experiencing. 

When it comes down to it, just “be smart,” said Williams.

For information about Professional Training at Cooper Fitness Center, click here.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.