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“Train to train tomorrow”

What training without pain really means.

I was taking a good friend of mine through a workout and we were on the last series of exercises. I was on week 7 of 12 in my training program and he exercises regularly but doesn't follow a regular program. We focused on keeping the weights challenging but doable. We did lots of reps for each exercise and tried a lot different movements that were new to him.

On the last trio of exercises, we started with farmer carries about 20 yards down and back, sumo lateral squats and TRX body rows (pictured above from left to right).

We did both legs for the sumo lateral squats where you have a wide stance and hold a heavy dumbbell with arms long and pointing straight down, then bend one leg while keeping the other straight.

After the first set I looked over and saw him twist his torso to stretch out his back a bit. I asked him if his back hurt and he said “No, it feels alright” then I asked him “then what were doing right there?” He answered that he was just feeling that his back was being used but it wasn’t a problem.

It would make sense that his back would start to fatigue at this point because we'd been working out for a little over an hour and we had done several moves focusing on lower body and core stability. On top of that the movement was new to him and he was doing it loaded.

So I said, “Train to train tomorrow man, there shouldn't be any pain or ache in any motion that we do.” In my opinion, it’s worth dialing it back a bit by decreasing weight or range of motion so you can get the benefit of the exercise without causing excess strain to joints or muscles. Training is stressful enough. You might feel sore the next day but it shouldn’t interfere with your daily activities the next day; think nagging low back ache.

Exceptions are bodybuilders who are gluttons for punishment and love not being able to sit down without their quads screaming at them the next day. Or approaching a flight of stairs and taking it on like it’s Mount Everest. But again, that’s muscle soreness not sharp pain.

If any motion causes pain or an ache after you do it, you might want to think more about what the movement is trying to accomplish. I love a good bicep pump as much as the next guy but if you feel a sharp pain or aching in your elbow after a set, it’s no good. It’s your body signaling that there's something a little off and it's not moving exactly like it's intended. Especially on a microscopic bone on bone level. Seems obvious, but I’ve seen countless people flex their elbows after doing some heavy bar curls or massage their elbows after. Also, I'm guilty of this, but I've learned to listen, adapt or back off.

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