You’re at the gym struggling with the 10th rep of the 100# bench press with beads of sweat running down your forehead, and your workout buddy spotting you says “No pain, No gain!” You feel like punching him in the nose, but is he right?
In relation to exercise, it means to work hard and feel the muscle soreness or “burn”, in order to increase or gain strength. For a training benefit to occur, the muscles must be overloaded to the point of fatigue, so that the muscle cells can hypertrophy.
The misconception is exercising to the extreme of harming the body and causing new injuries or aggravating old ones. Exertion to the point of moderate muscle fatigue, however, can be beneficial. Differentiating between the two will make you a better exerciser.
Pain is your body’s protective mechanism. Most of us tend to shy away from pain, but some of us ignore it and push through. Listen to your body, if you feel pain in the joint with an exercise versus the mild-mod muscle “burn”, then you should stop or modify the exercise.
For example, if running up a flight of stairs feels pretty easy, then running up the second flight of stairs you feel mild quad soreness, and the third flight you feel moderate quad burn would be appropriate. However, if you feel persistent sharp pain at the knee joint or kneecap, you might be irritating and perhaps injuring the knee.
Have a great work out, but don’t work out to point of “harmful” pain.