“No pain no gain” is a cry less commonly heard in these enlightened times, but its cousin “feel the burn” is still too often to be heard amongst the clichés shouted in the gym. Intense workouts definitely have their place in the programmes of anyone preparing for a competitive event, but for the majority of people who are just looking for a way to improve their health or body shape, suffering greatly does not have be part of the price to be paid.
Experiencing “the burn” often gives gym goers a feeling of pride and can help to make workouts feel worthwhile, thereby encouraging further participation. However, if every workout is a “trip to the pain room” not only will it eventually have a negative effect on motivation, it will very probably also result in burnout and possibly in injury too. Also, when too many intense workouts lead to “over-training” this can in turn lead to general impatience and intolerance, resulting in relationship problems at work and home.
As well as the progressively negative effects of training too intensely, we need to watch out for the type of discomfort and pain experienced during training. No matter what exercise you are performing, whether it´s resistance or cardio type exercise, any intense pain in the working muscles and any pain at all in other areas should be considered a warning sign that something isn´t right. When training hard, if your muscles burn towards the end of a set, interval or session, the pain is usually a result of your working muscles getting tired. However, if you feel pain at the start of a set or when beginning a cardio session it could well be a sign of injury. Be cautious and be patient.
Even for competitive athletes intense exercise is something to be approached with care. If you´re a recreational athlete or if you want to lose weight or gain muscle, patience is usually a virtue; steady moderate progress is always better than spectacular gains interrupted by periods of injury. It is pretty much always OK to push until you feel some discomfort, in fact you can even enjoy “the burn” from time to time. However, it is not necessary to push yourself to the limit during every session; consistent moderation is usually the best way to achieve sustainable long-term results. If you feel pain during a workout, ease up. That way you will improve your chances of being able to work towards your goals tomorrow, instead of having to skip training because you are nursing an injury.