Training through Pain

‘NO PAIN NO GAIN’.

The common mantra you hear across ‘hardcore’ gyms around the world.

Especially in the MMA world.

According to some, if you can’t put up with a little pain, you’re not a man.

Well, it’s all B-S-.

Kinda.

Here’s the thing…

There are different types of ‘pain’ that can happen when you’re training…

There’s the burning pain you get in your muscles when you’re pushing yourself through an extra few reps of bench presses or bicep curls that’s a result of excess ‘lactic acid’ buildup in the muscles.

This is the type of pain that you want to train through and go beyond, as you know there’s no unwanted damage occurring and you’re not going to cause an injury.

With intense focus and determination, you can often gut out a few more sets compared to when you’re easy on yourself and you don’t have a partner urging you on.

One thing to remember is to ALWAYS TRAIN IN PERFECT TECHNIQUE.

That means you immediately stop when form breaks down.

If you’re in a fight and you start getting a bit tired, do you think it’s acceptable to have sloppy form?

Obviously not!

So train the way you want to fight.

Another little tip I always tell my fighters when we’re training hard is to keep a ‘poker face’ (unlike the pic below).

Even if you’re exhausted, don’t let your opponent know it by making faces like you’ve been constipated for the last 7 days and you’re about to unleash the fury!

Keep a calm, collected expression and you won’t energize your opponent by looking like you’re almost done.

This generally comes at the end of a hard set or during an intense interval type workout.

Yes, you’ve gotta go hard, but think of it as a controlled aggression, not an all-out, uncontrolled fury.

Other types of pain that you’re going to experience sooner or later include sharp, stabbing type pains where you just know something’s not right.

These are the things you want to avoid during training for two reasons.

One – you’re likely causing more damage to already injured tissues, which will lead to a more severe injury and lost training time.

Two – the pain will likely be causing changes in movement and motor patterns, which will lead to compensation injuries in the future.

Here’s an example…

When you sprain your ankle, your body wants to stay away from weight-bearing on your left leg.

Do this over and over and your body soon starts to avoid using the left leg during all different types of movements.

So say you start squatting heavy and because your body is trained to avoid the left leg, your body deviates to the right, putting damaging stresses on the lumbar spine and hips, resulting in an injury whenever you try to squat heavy!

You’ve got to avoid these compensatory movement patterns at all costs, because it takes a lot of specific exercise and rehab to break these patterns.

If you’ve had any injuries from training or anything that you think may be disrupting proper movement patterns, leave them in the comments section below and let’s analyze them to see if they may pose a problem for you:

 

 

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chris
chris
8 years ago

we were training high kicks and we also did a drill were u have to keep ur partner in full guard i put to much strength in my thighs groin area keeping him from breaking guard after my groin area hurt realy bad its been two weeks still hurts realy bad. any tips on streches or anything i can do for the pain

Rob
Rob
8 years ago

I was performing power cleans about 6 weeks ago. After completing a Burgener warm-up I added weight (61k). Second rep first set after a beautiful triple ext I landed and felt a weird pain in my lateral left knee. I had been experiencing some IT band tightness around this time and was religiously foam rolling. The pain subsided with ice and IBU 3x a day. Fast forward, last week I was working with some friends at in Vegas doing a lot of speed work and plyo. During a grueling session of deceleration drills it started to ache a little. I was having a blast and didn’t want to stop. Next were a series of stop and go lateral shuffle drills, that is when it happened, the pain that made me stop. No audible pops or weird laxity just some local lateral swelling and it has been aching ever since. OK… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 years ago

I play Rugby and just recently I went for a 3 mile run… I started to get this weird pain/tightness in my right knee. Mostly on the outside of my knee and more towards the back of my knee not the kneecap. When I walk it doesn’t hurt to put any weight on that leg, but when I lift my right leg in my normal walking stride that is when the pain arises and I want to step back onto that leg as soon as possible. I do squats 3 times a week and it really does not bother me even the slightest when I squat, however, sometimes it feels like my right quad gets a little swollen with extra blood like Im isolating that quad too much. Anyways I fear that its not an acute injury like a meniscus tear but rather a chronic condition like ITBand Syndrome… were… Read more »

Josh
8 years ago

Hey Eric, I am 3 months post bicep tendon surgery… (at the elbow) I have been slowly building up after 2 months of nothing… Is there anything very specific to his type of injury that I should be taking note of at this stage of my recovery? I feel it’s quite a crucial time as I need to start increasing weights to 50% of previous strength and then start progressing up, but I am really not sure how to feel if the tendon has taken hold of the new insertion correctly… Haha, any advice would be great 🙂 thanks, Josh

JC
JC
8 years ago

I was rolling with a guy notorious for his leg locks and I’m known for not feeling leg lock submissions( It’s weird I know) anyways he got me in an ankle lock and I didn’t feel it so I thought I was safe till it popped. Not out of place mind you but it is injured now that’s the left one. I also injured my right ankle a few years back playing basketball and then playing tackle football afterwards… Yeah not smart. Also since I’ve been doing MMA there are always shoulder locks I get caught in and well I have flexible shoulders but I overused that trait now they just bother me. I swear sometimes I feel like I’ve got glass bones and paper skin but my love for MMA keeps me into it!

Thanks in advance Eric,

JC

Ammar
Ammar
8 years ago

hi eric. recently fractured my wrist. any suggestions on what i should be doing till i fully recover? thanks.

Ghat andy
Ghat andy
8 years ago

A neighbour smucked his ankle got a concussion in some drunken frolic in a playground, not MMA but pretty screwed. Can’t take any time as service mgr at a supermarket so after 6 days he’s moving like Igor w Parkinson’s. Pushing thru an injury can be ugly to behold.

Annie
Annie
10 years ago

Hi Eric, Thanks for your message via email, I will try and keep this as short as possible – On Friday past I was about to do my usual Kettlebell routine and was taking my 2yr old son out into to the garden to play whilst doing the workout – he made a run for the road and as I ran to catch him my back seemed to give, it felt worse on the right-hand-side, it seems to feel quite weak still since then and I tried your Damage Control Routine that you kindly sent last night for the 1st time and it helped my stiffness, my back felt weakest while trying the side plank on my RHS. Although the pain has improved I am eagar to get back to training with the kettlebells (although i’m cautious also) and was wondering how long should I leave it and could I… Read more »

jim
jim
10 years ago

Hi Eric, like your emails always good info. i am 47 and have pain in my right arm right above my elbow. i can do chin ups and everything else but bicep curls and i have pain midway. on kbell snatches. i think it is a tendon that wont heal. i hurt it originally 5 years ago carry my kids in my arms for about a mile (35 and 45 lbs). it seems to get better when i do a yoga movement where i lie on my arms and almost bend/stretch my elbow in a reverse. any thougthts on how to remedy this? thanks

Maafu
Maafu
10 years ago

Hey Eric,

Been having some pain along the outer edge of my wrists when squatting heavy. Now the pain is kinda consistent all the time and is hampering my squats. Any suggestions?

Eric
10 years ago
Reply to  Maafu

That’s interesting. Sounds like you need more flexibility through your chest and shoulders to there’s less strain on your wrists and the bar can rest more on your shoulders.

Stretch your chest and shoulders out before you squat and see if that helps.

You shouldn’t be holding a heavy bar on your back with much wrist strength. It should be resting on the shoulders and the hands just kinda keep it there without much difficulty.

frank
frank
10 years ago

I was picking up a 25 pound weight.

Eric
10 years ago
Reply to  frank

Did you reach for it? Usually something like that sounds like a disc. Slipped/bulged disc that is now pressing on the nerve.

Sounds like it’s more on one side than the other (the side that the leg hurts).

Try side bends on that side (if it’s your right, reach your right hand down your leg) and pressups (like a pushup but arch your back up).

See this for some additional exercises: LBP Exercises

Frank
Frank
10 years ago

Hello,

I seem to be having pain in my glute. When I bend down, it feels like a sharp pain. Also, it started when I felt a sharp burnning, stinging pain around my hamstrings. My leg went stiff. I had to pull myself up fast and soon the pain in my glut came. What do you think is the issue? This incident was during weight training.

Eric
10 years ago
Reply to  Frank

What were you doing when this happened?

Frank
Frank
10 years ago
Reply to  Eric

I just went to pick up the 25 pound weight. As I went to pick it up i felt a sting; then a burn. around my hamstrings. I had to sit down. my leg would not bend. I could not get up. Then, as I forced my self up, it went away, but then my glut started to hurt. When I would bend down, I would feel a sharp pain. I picked the weights up properly even though it is only 25 pounds. The pain only comes now when I dont Stretch. So, I stretch every day. When that pain came i did not here any snaps at all.

mongkhon bangsaeng
mongkhon bangsaeng
10 years ago

Hi Eric, My name is Mongkhon Bangsaeng (Diz). Yeh you prob heard of me from the emails i’ve sent. I’m sorry to bother you here but this has really been on my mind. Well, I’ve followed your program for 4 weeks now, started off in base conditioning and now im in the stength phase, only done one day so far. Since i’ve started your program i’ve gained probably 2 kg and now im 60. To fight in my local area, the lowest division is 60-65kg. so for this if i want the most advantage possible i’d prob need to be around 66-68 kg. Now to gain mass usually people will do bodybuilding and as i understand your program will put some mass on but very slowly compared to bodybuilding. so to supplement the your program i’ve added another day of weight training doing bodybuilding exercises such as bench press, barbell… Read more »

Eric
10 years ago

Hey man,

I’d continue with the program until your weight plateaus.

Just make sure you’re eating like a madman and you should be good to go.

2kg in 4 weeks is great!

Eric
10 years ago

HEY EVERYONE,

Sorry for the lack of timely replies, but I was in Montreal for UFC 113 – AWESOME! Anyway I’m back so here are my replies…

@ John,

Sounds like you could try a couple of things:

1) Get those hammies looser! A combo of moist heat followed immediately by static stretching and dynamic hammie exercises like leg swings

2) Try the internal hip rotation stretch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7akV-FkCTlc < -- it's the last stretch of the 4 @ Josh, Give foam rolling a try: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry-Jq9Qgf4Q <---- do it for the quads and all over for prevention of anything in the future. @ Schelle, It’s tough to say, sounds like there could be a lot going on. In terms of weight loss - big focus must be on nutrition. You can lose weight with proper nutrition and keeping moving! It just won’t be as fast or you won’t get stronger or more fit - but while you’re healing it works. One thing I never recommend is running if you’re overweight and not strong. If you can’t do proper body weight squats at least until your thigh goes parallel, you have no place running, or lunges with proper posture and form. If you’re in pain, don’t try anything ballistic like kettlebells yet… Stick with basic core stability exercises like Planks and Birddogs and progress their difficulty before moving to dynamic/ballistic exercises that require core stability. That’s about all I can recommend right now without actually working with you hands on. Hope it helps. - Eric

Schelle
Schelle
10 years ago
Reply to  Eric

Hi Eric,
thanks for your sensible advice. I thought you might like to know the outcome – turns out I had a non-malignant cyst in my femur. One day I was going cycling with my boys, transferred my weight suddenly to my bad leg and it snapped in half near the hip. Not much fun. I now have a titanium rod from hip to knee, and a bone graft as well. The focus is definitely on nutrition now, and as for training through pain, in some ways that’s what physiotherapy exercises are all about, hey? I am hoping to get the all clear to learn to walk again soon… Thanks again for taking the time to reply!

Schelle
Schelle
10 years ago

Hi Eric, I’m not training to be a fighter – just a mum losing weight & getting fit for her young sons – and my own sake. I like your sensible attitude & am learning a lot from you! I started running for the first time in my life, ignoring a niggling pain in my hip & hoping it would go away, because I was really enjoying running. It didn’t, of course. I am seeing some improvement when I do back straightening & posture exercises but it has been two steps forward, two steps back again for months now. The main symptoms are: my hip/groin won’t take my weight when I first stand up after sitting down. After about two or three steps it settles down enough for me to walk. If my good leg slips or gets tangled, it feels like my bad leg is being torn off! I… Read more »

Josh
Josh
10 years ago

OK Eric,
I have this probably with my quad. I am in track and everytime I run on it or whenever I lift on it, it gets a pain in it. I think I pulled it but not really sure. My coaches tell me to practice light on it but it still occasionally hurts.
Do you have any tips, comments, or concerns?

Thanks,
Josh

Rick
Rick
10 years ago
Reply to  Josh

Josh,
I used to have the same problem a few years back playin football and everytime i sprinted it felt like my quad was pulled or ripped…i played through the pain for weeks and never got better, it would feel fine until i ran. I decided to take a week or two off completely and the pain went away completely. I would say rest and maybe light stretching but dont stress it out let it recupe. Hope it helps.

John
John
10 years ago

Hi Eric,

Often when I do a squat-type movement (or jumps) I get stiffness and soreness in the left hip/oblique-area, sort of on the utside and towards the lower back. There is a shift in my hip when I approach parallel towards my left but I have a difficult time correcting this pattern by will alone so to speak.
I do joint mobility, hip bridges, bird-dogs and single leg exercises and I don’t go much below parallel when squatting, (stopping before my lower back rounds.
I’ve been trying hard to correct this for quite some time and have also consulted a physio therapist and a RKC-instructor.
Do you have any ideas or other concepts I can try?
Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks a’lot Eric.

/John