The End of No Pain, No Gain


Breathe! Move! Breathe! Move!

I vividly remember doing sit ups under a blistering sun until one more person quit or threw up. Dripping under the NC sun, I focused on my kneecaps as I moved. Coach Buddha paced by and barked “Don’t quit on me!”  I, like the 50 other kids hoping to make the team, would not be the reason we stopped and moved on to sprints.

Breathe! Move! Breathe! Move!

This story is not particularly unique to me.  During your developmental years, an instructor or coach has likely left a mark with some variation of "No pain, no gain!" on you too.  In fact, we've all probably seen this in some form or another as a kid - on the field, around the track, in the weight room,  in the dance or music studio, in P.E.

I am, unsurprisingly to those who have trained with me, a big proponent of moments like that tryout - in doses. Pushing your body to the point where your mind wants to quit develops mental fortitude and translates to grit other arenas of your life. However, getting the doses of this prescribed pain correct is the challenge.

Most of us train for general fitness. We want to confidently move through the world using our physical abilities. So why would our default training intensity be work-out-to-the-point-of-pain-the-next-day?  Personally, I prefer to be able to rise to the occasion when I get the “We need another person at open mat…”  text from my jujitsu instructor.

Pavel Tsatsouline calls it “greasing the groove.” Perform most of your training short of failure, but with enough volume to stress the body. Training provides the opportunity to develop skills and perfect form so that when you walk into a bone crushing workout or get a last minute call to sub into a pickup game, you are able to make the most of it. Consistently chasing the “no pain, no gain” mantra means missing the chance to experience the world around us spontaneously and without caveats. Where’s the fun in that?

If no pain, no gain is not the answer, what is?  How about exercising to be able to...

  • Chase your pets or children around the house and yard.
  • Sign up for a race on a week’s notice.
  • Feel confident in your own skin.
  • Move through the world enjoyably rather than chasing that endorphin dump every time.
  • Be independent, no matter your age.

What's your reason to exercise?  Share below.


About Author

Ryan Wands

Ryan Wands is an Associate Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator at the Recreation and Fitness Center with a passion for endurance and mobility training. He enjoys teaching our SAS family intuitive movement while ensuring no one takes themselves too seriously. If you want to talk coffee, obstacle course racing, or metabolism his door is open!

1 Comment

  1. Thanks, Ryan, I enjoyed that. It is hard to get the balance just right. It's good to think about your endgame. Mine is to be as healthy as I can for as long as I can.

    Looking at your "about", I'm thinking we also need to talk coffee. We roast our own at home, and I don't think we can ever go back. Ha.

    Thanks again!

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