NO PAIN, NO GAIN? Let's settle this. This is a widely disputed phrase in the fitness world. Some trainers push their clients to extreme measures, and sometimes these exact measures push clients into the "just work through it" mentality which inevitably honors injury after injury.
Other trainers are on the opposite spectrum and constantly combat the "no pain, no gain" phrase. "Movement should not hurt." While I do agree that movement shouldn't hurt (like, injury hurt), I think sometimes clients use this mentality as permission to stop before it gets hard.
But fitness IS hard. Let me explain...
This morning I was at the bottom of a Bulgarian split squat. Rep 3. I had 30LB dumbbells in each hand asking myself how I was going to get to rep 10. That S%#@ BURNS. 🔥🔥🔥 YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! And I still have two more sets? LAWD HELP ME.
I was executing the lift safely and effectively, and it just so happens to be an excellent unilateral exercise. But, you guys, it sucks just a little. And that's where the phrase above comes in. No pain, no gain. It's pain - but NOT injury pain. But it's definitely uncomfortable. I believe it's important that we understand the difference.
Here's my best advice for you in your weight room. LEAN IN to uncomfortable. Get comfortable with being a little UNcomfortable. It's going to burn, whether you're at the bottom of the squat, middle of a plank, or on the way down of an eccentric pull-up. Know the difference between injury pain and some burnin' pain. "We can push through the burn, but we never push through the pain." I repeatedly reinforce this with clients. I want them to know the difference, but they need to feel the difference, too. Self awareness is key.
While we're at it, let's talk about leaning into burpees. If I include burpees in a finisher with my group sessions, I always put form at the front of the line. My clients know that they can perform a belly burpee, an athletic burpee, or a functional "stand up from a push-up position" burpee. They also modify by moving to elevated objects like curbs or plyo boxes or tires. I encourage them to scale the exercise for them, and then LEAN IN to discomfort by challenging themselves from there.
When I have to perform an exercise that I deem challenging, I refrain from becoming discouraged. "Lean in, Stephanie," I mutter to myself.
LEAN IN. Trying something new or working on a weakness is a vulnerable action. But it strengthens us in many ways - ways that don't always show up on the PR board.
So that's my interpretation of "no pain, no gain". You've got to learn to experience some discomfort in your journey. Are there exercises that you know you're shorting yourself on? Could you still honor your body with the rest and recovery that it needs, but still challenge yourself to lean in to the undesirable exercises? I'm a certified trainer, and I STILL think Bulgarian split squats are awful. Awfully good, that is.
Perspective changes everything.
No pain, no gain? Yes! LEAN IN! But injury? Nope. I'm in this for the long haul. Working through an injury is not for me.