Future Fitness Myth Buster: Why You Don’t Need Pain to Train Successfully

“If little labour, little are our gains; Man’s fortunes are according to his pains”. 

From the poem No Pain, No Gain by Robert Herrick, 1650 

We all know that if you want something, you have to work for it. Our own Benjamin Franklin observed that “there are no gains without pains”. But these writers weren’t talking about physical pain. The old-fashioned meaning of “taking pains” simply meant trying hard. 

So how did the phrase “No Pain, No Gain” get so firmly attached to working out? The popular idea that we should suffer at the gym seems to have started in the 80’s, with exercise videos exhorting students to “feel the burn”. But even they were talking about the gentle burn in the core of a muscle that comes from pushing through fatigue, not real pain. 

Then we have this quote from 7-time Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger: 

“The greatest feeling…the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is the pump. Let’s say you train your biceps. Blood is rushing into your muscles and that’s what we call the pump. It feels fantastic.” 

Hmm…not a lot there about pain. 

Nevertheless, as long as there are young men at the gym there will be fertile soil for the macho attitude behind the notions of “No Pain, No Gain”, “Man up”, “Walk it off, bro” and other bad training advice. 

Outside the gym, the main advocates of “No Pain, No Gain” are often well-meaning parents and coaches. Both just want to urge their kids to strive for their best efforts, but there is a fine line between pushing a young athlete to try harder and pushing their body too far. 

In modern exercise physiology, we have finally come to understand that the easy way to identify that fine line is pain — a loud, clear warning from your body that you are heading down the road toward injury and you need to turn back. 

There is no doubt that resistance exercise — correctly executed and with determined repetition to the point of fatigue — will strengthen your muscles, tendons, joints and bones. You will look forward to training. You will feel joy in the challenge of pushing for a few more reps. And you will take pride and pleasure in looking fit and feeling strong.

As for exercising through pain…that will gain you nothing. You won’t enjoy training. You won’t look forward to dragging yourself to the gym. You won’t enjoy ignoring your body’s response to punishment. And although you may get stronger, you are just as likely to gain an injury that could keep you out of the gym for weeks or months, if not permanently. 

At Future Fitness, our training principles are based on your body’s natural response to resistance and repetition. And we train you to incorporate your body’s feedback, during and after exercise. We’ll show you why the best way to exercise is to focus on technique, continuing only until fatigue will no longer let you execute the movement with proper form. 

That’s it. No pushing through pain. If your muscles feel a little stiff and sore the next morning, that’s just your body recognizing that it will need more muscle mass the next me it encounters that much resistance and repetition. And you can feel your body growing what it needs. 

To learn more about gain without pain, visit Future Fitness online at www.futurefitness.training or call (817) 803-4846. Or stop by the fitness center at 1919 Golden Heights Road, #100, Fort Worth TX 76177.