TFW Portland talks about pain... and what it means for your fitness and life.

If you’ve been training in the gym for your first week or two EVER, you MAY have experienced a little bit of pain.

I want to bring up a couple of interesting ideas that I've been experiencing in the last year, that may help you out. First, I want to draw from some of the greats on this matter to let you know about others’ stances. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “ Everything past pain is growth”. He was talking about reps- every rep beyond the one that hurts means you are creating more strength and muscle.

As long as the technique is good, I would agree with that! Everything past the discomfort level is making you stronger.

One of my good friends, Dr. Aziz Gazipura (The Mind Guy aka The Confidence Guy) says, " Your quest for comfort is killing you." In this case, comfort can mean:

  • Being comfortable with yourself
  • Too comfortable with your place in life
  • Not wanting to offend other people
  • Not wanting other people to have the opportunity to reject you
  • Not wanting to put yourself out there, to leave yourself exposed and vulnerable

He is saying that by holding back, YOU ARE DYING. You’re dying by living a quiet life and you’re never going to grow into the person you were meant to be... if you don’t get out there and face your fears and face rejection.

I agree with that wholeheartedly, having faced (and continue to face) fear uncertainty and rejection. I’m not by any means inoculated and I’m excited to keep moving forward. So thank you, Dr. Gazipura for your words.

Dave Dellanave, a great strength coach from Minneapolis. He recently said in an email, “Pain is a sign that you’re doing too much or not enough.” That may not be very helpful but also it’s true. You can pain in your knee from sitting on the couch for too long, or you can have pain in your knee from too many squats. The only way you get to discover which is which, is to look closer at what you have been doing. 

I want to relate this back to my situation for a moment because I’ve been experiencing some pain lately. I've been training for a long time and have had knee pain off and on for some time. Whenever I begin a series of heavy squats, my knee starts to give me a little trouble. After I keep squatting for a few weeks, the pain goes away. 

The pain is there at the beginning of the workout, then I get warmed up and it goes away... and eventually, it’s just gone. It became clear to me that my body wasn’t ready to do squats. But as I get better at squats, the pain goes away. It stays gone as long as I continue to prepare and practice. It’s very liberating!

The IDEA of pain is a little bit confusing.

On one hand, you don’t want to do something that will literally injure yourself. If you have an injured ankle, you wouldn’t go out and run sprints. If you have a limitation, you don’t attack it directly. You find your way around the limitation to avoid the injury-- like a step-up or something that didn’t create the impact. You could load it differently so you don’t damage things further. You find a workaround to get past the pain, to get the growth that can be found on the other side of pain. 

As a young soldier in the army, we were used to running all the time during the first few weeks of basic training. I had a drill sergeant who said, "You’ll notice that when you start to run, you’re going to get a side ache and it’s going to hurt in your gut. What you gotta do is, you gotta run PAST that or THROUGH it. And when you get on the other side of that ache, there’s nothing. And once that side ache goes away, it never comes back."

Feelin' that good burn.

Feelin' that good burn.


I love that he said that... because it was never said to me before. In my life, everyone had talked about pain as something that was bad or should be avoided. “Take it easy, Don’t go too hard, don’t go too fast, don’t do too much!” Not only that, but the body also tries to curb your enthusiasm and keep you back a little bit.

However, the body is a highly adaptable machine.

When you push through to the other side, not only are you able to succeed that day but you also find you have strength, endurance and stamina and RESILIENCE that you didn’t know you had before. Now it gets easier to reach… and to grow! Because you have practice being exposed to that discomfort. 

There’s a certain kind of pain that when you feel it, your body lets you know that’s what it’s comfortable doing. And if you take a few steps past that, you’re usually going to find something great on the other side. It's just another stepping stone to your objective. 

You don’t have to train like an idiot or be reckless with yourself. But you have to push yourself to that point of discomfort and see what happens. Call that a test. When you're tired, or achy or exhausted- your body will know, "It's OK, because I still have more to give." Don’t kid yourself: you’re never NEVER really out of gas. 

That’s my story about pain: what it means, where it comes from and what it has to offer you. When you feel that pain and fear, that’s a signal you’re on the right track... and there’s something good for you on the other side.

Coach Josh here, helping YOU bring out the warrior within!