Q&A


Menstuff® has compiled questions and answers on unusual topics concerning men.

June
No Pain, No Gain


They shout it at you from the TV screens, and in the gyms, and if you're anything like me, you want to shout back, "Pain? No way!"

More of an Old Trainers' Tale, it was accepted as truth for several years. It's also why moire than half the population of the US still doesn't exercise. We feel guilty, of course, but who, in their right mind, likes pain?

Drs. Peter and Lorna Francis (both Ph.D.s) have written a book called If It Hurts, Don't Do It. Exactly my sentiments. But, if we "don't do it" when it hurts, will we derive any benefit? Is there gain without pain?

The answer is not a simple, straightforward yes or no. It really depends on what exercises you're doing and why you're doing them.

You should exercise for health. And you should exercise for fitness. You can exercise for strength and performance, too. Those are three different reasons demanding three different approaches, and two different answers to the no pain, no gain debate.

When exercising for health, a moderate program is in order. These are exercises that help you lose and maintain weight; reduce the risk of heart problems through aerobic activities such as walking and swimming; maintain flexibility, and induce relaxation. When engaging in a program like this, there's no reason at all to do anything that causes discomfort, shortness of breath or pain. Just performing these activities at a comfortable level will bring about improvements.

Exercising for fitness requires more effort, more cardiovascular activity, more dedication, and should include stretching, aerobic training, and a program for building strength. Here again, there's no need to endure pain to achieve gain. It's OK to try to push past a little fatigue, but when your tired arms and legs start shaking uncontrollably, it's time to ease up. All of the above activities can be extremely beneficial without putting undue strain on your joints, ligaments and cardiovascular system.

Most important, by exercising within these painless guidelines, there will be gain. Your stamina and ability will steadily improve if you stick to your program. Even the strength training you incorporate into the program does not require pain to achieve results.

For those people who train for performance, the answer is different. These are people who are interested in training for a specific sport or for building a very muscular body. Experts seem to agree that when it come to developing specific muscles, there is a benefit from the fatigue one feels as one reaches and pushes capacity. However, the pain or "burn" must still be mild and confined to the muscle itself. Great care must be taken not to tax the ligaments, the skeletal structure or the cardiovascular system that supports those muscles. Research shows the injury rates are higher among the very fit. Ignoring pain can almost guarantee an injury.

One of the most awful moments of my televisions sports viewing career occurred when I saw a weight lifter's leg snap under the weight he had hoisted. His muscular strength had achieved a capacity his skeleton could not support.

So, for serious trainers, mild fatigue pain in the muscle itself can deliver gain, but for the rest of us, it's not necessary to exercise to the point of pain to receive the benefit. Everyone who exercises, at any level, should keep in mind that pain is nature's way of warning us that we're abusing our bodies. Source: Old Wives' Tales

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