The common saying “No Pain, No Gain” is an outdated mentality when it comes to training and rehab. 

While the saying means well, it actually causes some confusion at times. There is a difference between PAIN and PUSHING yourself. Below are some tips and methods in order to better gauge your exercises in the gym and/or with us at Peak Physiotherapy and Performance!

What is Pain?

Trying to explain pain outright could take years. There is actually tons of research, data, images, studies, etc trying to determine what is pain. To start with, understand that pain is different for everyone. My day is ruined by a papercut, whereas you might not even flinch when getting one. Pain involves more than just sensation – we have danger detectors not pain detectors in our body. Our body senses the pain and then our brain formulates the next action. 

Pain is our bodies’ reaction to something the brain deems as POTENTIALLY harmful at that time. Typically, PAIN makes a person stop what they are doing altogether, or drastically change their workout or activity. Think if it as your body saying, “Hey! This isn’t right!” Fatigue on the other hand, typically lends to the sensation of “muscle burn” or a muscle may feel “gassed.” Pushing through fatigue is needed at times to get stronger/faster, but within limits and listening to your body. One way may be using the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale.

RPE Scale for Pain Modulation

The RPE scale or Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale is a nice guide for some people and their activities and workouts. It is a 1 to 10 scale, where 1(Very Light) is watching TV and 10 (Max Effort) is when you are completely out of breath or unable to talk with activity. This scale is also correlated to other common/popular training methods: Heart Rate Zones, Zone Training, and High Intensity Interval Training. As you progress in your fitness or sports journey, these will evolve with you. The person that started the training program is not the same person two months later! Some exercise that may be an eight on the scale may become a six eventually and that is called progress! Your scale and someone else’s will and should be different. Your warm ups for example, should be a two to six range in order to prime your body. 

What should you strive for?

The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.

Notice that does not say high intensity! The consensus currently, is that two to three days of HIIT training is enough to get the benefits as long as 24 hours of recovery occur between each workout. For most people these recommendations will hold true, but definitely take into consideration your own personal goals and former training levels. 


One of the benefits of HIIT, is EPOC. But what is it? Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption occurs after completing a HIIT session. Oxygen consumption and metabolism both elevate for up to 24 hours after your workout happens. Many gyms, coaches, and healthcare providers call it the “afterburn.” Think of it as your body doing overtime. This effect is directly determined by the intensity of the workout; most of these workouts are extremely uncomfortable and very taxing on your body’s systems. Most equipment and lifts can be used to create a stimulus to gain this benefit of training! HIIT does not need to be a part of everyones’ routine, but throwing it in here and there may help you breakthrough some of your fitness goals.  Ask a PT or a coach for some more tips.

Is a twinge the end of my workout?

We all get banged up and moments of “ouch” during a game or workout. Remember, our brain is good at protecting us, so listen to it. If the same motion, action, or lift is causing you to say, “Ouch,” or a variation of that word, it is probably best to switch it out. If it was a random one off of pain, make note of it and see if it comes back in a couple of days. Your body is really good at recovery so most bumps and bruises get better as long you do not keep poking at them. After warming up, sometimes those twinges go away, hence why warming up is important for your workout or sport. If the pain persists and starts to interfere with a lift or your daily life, reach to us for a Free Phone Consultation with one of doctors so we can keep you training during rehab.

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