No pain, no gain? No way!

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Lifestyle/Weight Management Coach

Whether you are a regular at the gym, or more of a weekend warrior, you are no doubt acquainted with the old adage, “No pain, no gain”.  In an effort to increase our levels of fitness, we often strive to out-perform what we accomplished during our last workout, raising the amount of weight we lifted or spending just a few more minutes on the treadmill.  If we’re sore the next day, we reason that we must have done things properly.  If not, we figure that we probably didn’t work hard enough.  Sound familiar?

Recently a few of my clients have mentioned to me that they were not sore the day or two after our training session, and that perhaps they were not tapping into their fullest potential.  This is a myth that has been perpetuated far too long.  While it is true that a strenuous workout may render you a bit sore and stiff the next day, it is not necessary to experience these sensations as you make great strides towards your fitness goals.

When an individual who is deconditioned embarks upon a new workout regimen, there may be an increase in delayed-onset muscle soreness.  This is due in large part to the fact that muscle groups which have never before been challenged are suddenly being asked to perform a new set of movements, with the addition of “time under tension”.  However, a seasoned athlete who changes his training every month or so probably will not feel this same acute level of discomfort, even if his weight load has been dramatically increased. A more conditioned body has firmly established neural pathways in place as well as highly developed musculature; as such, it will take quite a bit more leverage to elicit discomfort in such an individual.

Progress can be measured in several ways when assessing the success of a fitness program.  Painless gains include such aspects as increases in self-efficacy, ease of movement through activities of daily living, heightened levels of energy, and an overall improvement in mood and self-esteem. It is these factors which will maximize adherence to a workout program, and that is the first step toward success and visible gains. If a little pain comes along for the ride at first, know that it is only temporary.  If you don’t experience post-workout soreness, rest assured your body is still responding in a very positive manner!

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