In order to better address the needs of our fitness-obsessed readers, we are introducing this semi-regular column, "I of the Tiger," to take on the vital hardcore fitness issues of our time. Today: pain. Dig it.
Exercise is the cultivation of pain. There is no success without pain. Pain, in fact, is indicative of progress, and a lack of pain indicative of its opposite. In order to become hardcore, you must develop a taste for pain. You must seek it out, drink it in, lap it up like a cat with a saucer of milk. Painful, searing, milk. Lap it up. Get down on your knees and drink it. Mmm, yes. Lapping up the pain milk. Lap, lap, lap.
Do you find that image disturbing? Good. No one said that this would be easy.
In the beginning of history, pain was concocted by god as a way of telling you that you were doing something wrong. After god died in 1882, things changed. Man embraced science. Fitness was invented. And soon, fitness scientists discovered that peanut butter and jelly or lesbians and lesbians weren't the only things that went together: fitness and pain did, too. (Go together.)
The only important thing to remember about pain in exercise is that there are two kinds of pain. (Forget everything else about pain in exercise, especially the pain itself, so that you can proceed to ingest more pain.) The first kind of pain is like, "Oh, damn, my muscles are shaking and burning from these squats right here, I am so tired, my leg is shaking like a newborn pony, I can barely stand up to do this last rep, I am going to pass out from muscle pain right now." This is good pain. This is the pain of fatigue. This is the pain that you seek during a workout.
The other kind of pain is like, "Oh, damn, as I descend in this squat I can feel the tendons and shit in my knee being pulled to their breaking point and I feel as if, should I descend any further, everything inside my knee will just rip apart and my leg will be flopping around and shit and I'll go toppling down in a leftward direction and the last thing I see will be that weight bar falling on down towards my neck." This is the pain immediately preceding an injury that will make you throw up.
Here we see the two types of pain: fatigue pain (GOOD, A+, WOULD TRY AGAIN AND AGAIN), and injury pain (DON'T WANT THAT, BRO). How do you distinguish between the two types of pain? By considering why the pain you are feeling makes you want to quit. If the pain you are feeling makes you want to quit because you are a pussy, that's fatigue pain. If the pain you are feeling makes you want to quit because if you don't quit you are about to break some shit inside of your body, that is injury pain. If you feel fatigue pain and don't quit, you are hardcore. If you feel injury pain and don't quit, you are dumb.
There may be those in your gym, who are dumb, who tell you, "no pain, no gain." This phrase makes sense only if it refers to fatigue pain. Your body has an early warning system for injuries. It is called injury pain (by me). When you feel this injury pain, you must stop. If you try to "push through" injury pain, guess what happens, genius: you get an injury. Then you are out of action for weeks or months, getting weaker the whole time. This simple math reveals a fundamental piece of wisdom: No single exercise or set or rep or workout is worth getting an injury. You will always lose more fitness from getting injured than you can gain from any allegedly "awesome" workout, so tell that guy to shut up.
Let's review what we have learned about pain: 1) Pain is good. 2) As long as it is healthy pain. 3) And not injury pain. 4) Which is bad.
With this knowledge in mind, you can all go forth, and cultivate that pain, like a basement mushroom garden watered with Super Squats sweat. Drink in that pain, with a proper thirst. Lap it up. Lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap. That's it. Lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap.
Yeah. You want that pain to be nasty.
Lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap. Lap, lap, lap, lap, lap, lap.
Image by Jim Cooke, source photo via Shutterstock