If you like pain, that is! If you actually want to get stronger and healthier, you should avoid the “Always Hurt As Much As Possible” Technique.

When I was a kid, my dad literally taped a “No Pain, No Gain” bumper sticker to my bedroom mirror so that I would see it as I prepared to meet life each day. I was a competitive track athlete, and my dad had big Olympic dreams for my sister and me. I had big Olympic dreams for myself as well! We usually ran four speedwork, tempo or race days per week, and six miles was our easy day. I was tiny, but of so mighty!

Nevertheless No Pain, No Gain didn’t work out so well for me. I was burnt out by the time I reached college, and decided partying and eating ice cream was a way more fun way to enjoy college than competing as a runner. I now know that No Pain, No Gaindoesn’t work out well for anyone.

If you think each workout should be designed to hurt as much as possible, you won’t be exercising for very long. You’ll be injured and hit a point of diminishing returns. Our bodies actually strengthen and build during the recovery periods between challenging workouts. A rest day doesn’t mean lie in bed all day. It just means give your sore muscle groups (or cardiovascular system) a chance to process and integrate the hard work you just did. You won’t do so well on test after test after test, if you never stop and study before each test.

Tips for Active Rest and Recovery Days:

  1. Two to three hard workouts per week is enough.
  2. Don’t do back-to-back hard workouts for the same muscle group.
  3. Choose active rest (ie walking, easy jog, yoga and stretching) instead of nothing.
  4. Alternate between weight training and cardio-based days.
  5. Declining strength and sports performance may be a sign of overtraining and not enough rest.

Please let me know if you have any questions, topics or just need to vent!