Know what your pain means

Pain is a pretty universal concept. We all know pain in one shape or another. Pain is often a sign of change, and when you look at it that way it makes sense that working out hurts. You’re literally changing your body at the muscular level, either adding mass or subtracting mass from your frame. One of the most common anthems you hear in the gyms these days is that pain is the goal, and in a way that is correct, but it’s important to know the difference between being hurt and being injured.

Anyone who’s gone to the gym seven days a week and worked out for hours on end knows pain, and they know the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain.” For those who don’t know the difference, “good pain” is the pain the comes from pushing yourself, from progress and growth. “Good pain” is the goal of everyone who goes to the gym with a purpose, for everyone who is working towards a specific achievement. “Good pain” is when you’ve worked until muscle failure, and pushed yourself beyond that hurdle. “Good pain” is when you ignore your body’s protesting and finished your workout. As crazy as it sounds, “good pain” can make you laugh in the middle of a workout, because you know its a temporary feeling. You know it’ll pass in between your sets, and you know you’ve pushed through and you’re one step closer to your goal.

There’s nothing enjoyable about “bad pain,” because this is the kind of pain that precedes an injury. We’ve all seen men and women at the gym lifting too heavy too fast, not giving their bodies time to acclimate to the process and the weights, trying to rush through the preliminaries and get right to the finals, so to speak. This is the kind of thinking that can break bones, rupture internal organs, and even lead to death. There is a monumental difference between being hurt and being injured. You’re going to hurt when you’re in the gym. Muscular growth is a painful process, but it heals. When you heal, you grow. So you cannot grow without this pain. Injury doesn’t help the process, it slows it down and derails it completely.

It’s important to know your body, to know your pain, because no one can tell you when you should push yourself and when you should stop. If you think rest days are a waste of time, or if you think you can increase your lift by 50lbs in one week, then you do so at your own risk. This process is more of a long distance race than a sprint. It’s supposed to take time, that’s part of the fun. Be aware of your body, be aware of your pain, and know the difference between the “good pain” and the “bad pain.”