No Pain, No Gain is Old School
By theParklander / January - February 2012

In July of 1996, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report that was as significant as its warning thirty years ago that tobacco use caused cancer. According to its research, Americans are fatter and less active than at any time in our country's history, and that lack of exercise is directly linked to higher rates of disease and death.

The report should have sent shock waves through the U.S. We've all known for a long time what exercise can do for our health. What no one has been able to understand is why there are still so few of you out there still not doing some sort of workout. Why, if a good weight workout is the one great trump card that you can play to boost health and re-shape your body, have only 10 percent of American adults joined a gym? Why do so few of you even attempt the most undemanding of exercises, such as walking?

Something is wrong and I know exactly what it is. Most of you don't exercise because somewhere in your unconscious mind, you think a workout has to be punishing to be successful. You thought only the most strenuous two-hour workout could have an impact on your body. If it was not for sweating profusely or having trouble breathing while working out, you thought you were doing something wrong.
Do you still accept the idea that you can only lose weight through exercise if you push your body to the limits of endurance? Do you believe all those phrases that became popular during the aerobics craze of the 1980s such as "go for the burn," "let's get pumped," and, of course, "no pain, no gain?"

When it comes to weight training, the amount of weight you lift is far less important to developing the perfect body than the form you follow while training. Muscle soreness is not a sign of progress in shaping your hips, thighs, and biceps. Good technique is.

Understand this very clearly: NO PAIN IS GAIN. Less is more. The big lie in physical fitness has been the idea that you have to grunt to get fit, that you have to pant to get lean. You should never leave the gym or your workout exhausted. Instead, you should feel invigorated. If you have a personal trainer and he/she makes you feel sore in the first two weeks, I would seek a new trainer.

Maybe it's time to forget everything you've ever heard about fitness and start over. I want to emphasize that the dread you feel is based only on misinformation and mistaken perceptions of what exercise for fitness should be.

The two basic forms of exercise are both widely misunderstood. You need to do cardiovascular exercise, which includes everything from walking, running, aerobics classes, boxing, and many more exercises. The second basic form of exercise is weight training. Remember, one does not substitute for the other. You cannot, for example, hope to put on muscle and shape your body by doing only cardio exercise.

If you are starting out, I recommend a cardio program that involves some sort of body movement three times a week, for at least 25 minutes each time. Weight training should be done two to three times a week for about 30 to 45 minutes a session. If you try to do more, you won't gain anything for your efforts.

Here are two of the myths associated with the effort to get fit: 1) People get on the treadmill and put on extra heavy clothes so they will sweat, thinking they are losing weight; and 2) People never eat before a workout because they think if their stomachs were empty, then their bodies would start to work on their excess fat during the workout.

Steve O, who lives in Coral Springs, is author of the low-fat cookbook Getting Fit By Enjoying Eating. He graduated from the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas and the Florida Culinary Institute.

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