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  • joshuamsutton

No Pain, No Gain

Updated: Jun 24, 2019

We’ve all heard the cliche, and cliches are what they are for a reason.  Growing muscle, being fit, and being active isn’t an easy thing.  It takes hard work, dedication, and it requires you to be downright stubborn at times and refuse to quit.  If it were easy, after all, everyone would do it!


There can be an unwitting correlation between the pain we suffer in the gym, though, and the progress we feel we should see elsewhere in our lives.  We’re preached to by companies who want to sell us something about how if you want the results you have to put in the work.  They tell us the harder we work the better we’ll be and the further we’ll go. Well, they aren’t lying to us, and they’re certainly not wrong.  What they have to tell us often has the unfortunate effect of leading us to believe we have to go 100% all of the time to see the results we truly want to see.  The truth couldn’t be more opposite.


On one end of the spectrum we have a guy who gets up off the couch, does one set of one air squat, then sits back down.  Ok…there will be no gains there.  There’s no work, there’s no nutrition, and there’s no trigger for the body to rebuild and regrow muscle tissue or to burn fat.  On the other end of the spectrum, however, we have an athlete who goes to the gym six days a week, maybe sometimes twice a day, and pushes as hard and as fast as they can in every workout.  This is what we call over-training, and it can be as bad, if not worse, than doing nothing at all.


When you exercise and subject your body to heavy weights and repeat stressors you’re creating micro-tears in the muscle tissue.  This, among other things, is what makes you sore.  You’re body then goes to work repairing the tissue and making you whole again, but that isn’t a quick process.  Your body isn’t just changing a blown out tire, it’s regrowing organic tissue.  It takes time, and if you’re back in the gym the very next day pushing the physical limits of your body you’re just breaking down everything your body is still in the process of putting back together.  No bueno!


The immediate and logical conclusion to this is to take a rest day, and rest days are just as important as workout days!  But you can also play with the throttle a bit, as well.  You don’t have to go all or nothing in your workouts.  Consider this: You have a WoD in which you have to perform forty hang snatches.  Will you get a better workout by loading the bar with 115lbs and doing sets of five, or will you be better off with 75lbs or 95lbs and sets of twenty?  Or is today even a WoD kind of day?  Crossfit focuses on dynamic movements and functional fitness, but it’s not the only solution.  You can shift gears and go for a run.  Run a mile, or three miles, or run some interval sprints.  You can pick up a dumb bell and work on individual muscle groups to give your cardio and nervous system time to recover.  Or go ahead with a WoD and just dial the intensity back!


100% effort all of the time leads to only one thing:  Burnout.  On a pain scale of 1 to 10, you shouldn’t be pushing an 8 or 9 every single workout.  It’s not healthy and it’s detrimental to your progress.  Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to set the throttle at 50% on occasion.

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