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Does "No Pain" Really Mean "No Gain"?

No pain, no gain!


This has been yelled for decades inside gyms everywhere. The mindset is if you are not hurting, you are not changing.


This is true to an extent. In the moment of training or working out, you are breaking down the muscle and building up the lactic acid in it. This is why that burning sensation is present. If during your workouts you feel no sense of “pain” or discomfort, you might not be training hard enough.


But what about when you are done training? You just did a killer leg workout and you are limping out of the gym, but the next day you feel as if you did nothing at all the day before? Was the workout all for nothing? You see other people complain about their legs hurting and not being able to sit on the toilet. You want that feeling too because it obviously means you are training hard!


Not necessarily.


You see, during the training sessions (as stated) the muscles are being broken down. When doing movements that the muscles are not quite conditioned for or not used to, the muscle fibers develop little tears and you can get muscle soreness, or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). DOMS is usually felt the most within the first 24-48 hours after a workout. Now many people believe that one must experience a sense of DOMS to show that they are training hard enough.

No pain, no gain, right?


DOMS is simply a sign that the muscle is not conditioned for a certain movement or it was stressed beyond its capabilities. Muscle growth can still occur without DOMS. On the flip side, one needs to be sure they are challenging their body effectively to promote the muscle growth. This is done the best not by experiencing pain but by changing up reps, sets, weight and movements. The truly best way to tell if you are training hard enough is by simply seeing that the muscle is changing and growing.


If all you do is chase the pain feeling that follows a workout, you can be at high risk for overtraining and injury. This is because the muscle fibers are unable to heal properly which is not a good thing. When we workout we are breaking the body down, so we need that rest and recovery, so our body rebuilds properly.


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