Oftentimes, in training, we are presented with a caution about pain. “If you do that, you will hurt yourself”, “that is going to hurt you”, “that hurts just to watch”, etc. These sentiments are all predicated upon the same notion, that of which being that an activity results in pain. The inference that is further made with this statement is that, since this activity results in pain, it is therefore an invalid practice. The pursuit is unworthy, because the pursuer will encounter hardship.
"Screw this, I'm just gonna get some cheetos"
Surely, when phrased in this manner, you can witness the faultiness of such a notion. How is the sheer presence of the possibility of pain enough to discredit the entire worthiness of an activity? Is not suffering an essential part of the pursuit of something great? Has greatness ever come to those that have not suffered in some capacity, to include those that we consider “blessed”, whether it be by genetics of fortune?
I argue quite the contrary, in that the fact that pain can be encountered through an activity grants it far more merit than it does discredit it. We witness those activities in training that result in pain, to include squats, deadlifts, overhead pressing, conditioning, etc, and contrast that with those activities performed in the gym with minimal pain potential, to include light machine circuits and dumbbell work, and it becomes obvious which has the greatest contribution to success.
On the topic of success, when we analyze those that have succeeded in the iron game, I defy you to name any who have done so without encountering some manner of injury. In some instances, the difference between champions and those that showed potential but never prospered is the very ability to recover and grow from constant catastrophic injuries. Dave Tate spoke of how he had a talent for training around and through injuries, and passed on this talent to many other trainees in order to ensure their own success on the platform. For these individuals, pain was an foregone conclusion in the pursuit to greatness, it was the method in which it was dealt with that determined the success of the trainee.
To go back to the pain prophets that we opened with, I question why it is that the potential risk for pain is of such great concern, yet they will willfully engage in activities with far greater chances of far greater risks with no concern at all. How many of these individuals drove to the gym, knowing full well that their risk of being involved in an automobile accident is far more significant than their risk of gym injury? How many shower without a slip resistant mat? How many avoid undercooked meats, drink within moderation at all times, never exceed the speed limit, come to full stops at stop signs, etc etc? Why is it that these “risks” are permissible, while the risk of pain in the pursuit of greatness is considered abhorrent?
Because the average man is only willing to take the risks that allow him to remain average.