If you’ve been around the gym for a while, you’ve probably heard the saying “No pain, no gain”. This is a completely true saying, but only when pain is defined as the intense burn one experience in their muscles, which is caused by your body producing its energy anaerobically, or without oxygen. A byproduct of this anaerobic “energy making” (the scientific term is anaerobic cellular respiration) is lactic acid, which is responsible for that all too familiar burn that comes towards the end of a hard set. The saying “No pain, no gain” has absolutely no ground to stand on, however, if you define pain as nagging aches and pains. These aches and pains are your body’s way of “talking” to you, and I feel that people really don’t know how to listen properly.
I’m going to give an example from my personal experience, because I feel like it will illustrate perfectly what I am trying to say. I got on this kick where I thought the quickest way to a big chest was heavier barbell bench presses, and because of this school of thought, I barbell benched darn near every workout for 2 months straight. As time progressed, every chest day that went by I noticed that my elbows were starting to hurt and my AC joints (joint where collar bone ties in at shoulder) ached for hours after my training session. Since I was making great gains in my chest, I didn’t “Listen”. It started out as a whisper, with everything feeling like I had just had a very hard work out, and progressed over those two months to a full blown yell, my shoulders and elbows aching so badly by the time I got to triceps that it would hamper the rest of my exercises. I made a mistake by not “listening” to my body, and paid for it with overly sore joints and connective tissue. I was blessed that I did not suffer a strain, or even worse, a tear from the repeated beat down my body received from the heavy flat presses. When I finally came to my senses, I decided I would do heavy flats every third chest day, and in the following weeks and months I enjoyed as much, if not more progress, all while being ache and pain free.
Moral of the story:
Listen to your body! I was doing something that my body didn’t like, and it tried telling me nicely at first, but when I ignored these signs, it became a problem. Going back to what I said at the beginning of this blog, you must learn to differentiate “good” pain and “bad” pain. When you feel the “bad” pain, it’s your body telling you what you’re doing isn’t working for it, and the sooner you learn to listen, the better!
About the Author
Hunter Labrada, amateur bodybuilder and fitness author, who got started in bodybuilding via football and now does it with the end goal of being at the Mr. Olympia stage.
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