Being a trainer and working at a gym every single day, I'm accustomed to the "no pain, no gain" mentality. If you aren't sore, you're doing something wrong. You need to always be doing or lifting more than last time otherwise you aren't working hard enough.
Honestly, that couldn't be further from the truth.
That "no pain, no gain" mentality takes away any sliver of intuitiveness that you might have with your body. This mentality tells you to push past any bit of hesitation you might be feeling in your body before completing a workout. And that isn't a good thing.
Our bodies aren't meant to go all-out every single day, every single workout. Our energy ebbs and flows depending on our stress levels, the food we've eaten, our water intake, the sleep we've been getting - the list goes on and on. Expecting yourself to be able to give the same effort and intensity (and then some) at every single workout is completely insane and sets you up for failure and injuries. Because at some point, you won't be able to push to that next level. Eventually, your body will give out and you'll start back lower than square one. You'll start back in the negative zone.
Instead, stop using soreness, time, and how much you sweat as markers of a good workout. While those factors mean something and are important to consider, they aren't the whole story.
Soreness is a sign that you worked a muscle in a new way, thereby damaging it (a process natural to exercise). But if we chase that soreness every single workout, we are never giving our bodies time to fully recover and heal and allow our muscles to grow.
The time of your workout isn't always correlated with the quality of your workout. Yes, you can workout for two hours, but if you aren't moving past one steady state or spending half of the time talking, you're wasting your time. Trust me when I say you can get a good workout in with whatever amount of time you have if you are thoughtful and purposeful when planning it.
And how much you sweat? Go into the gym during the summer and tell me you don't sweat more doing the exact same workout as you did when it was 30 below outside.
When we stop chasing the "no pain, no gain" mentality, we are able to hone in on what our goals actually are and what our bodies need to actually achieve those goals. Sometimes doing less with purpose when it comes to exercise can be more beneficial than doing all the things.
I recently switched from a body part split workout routine to a full body routine. What does this mean? It means I'm no longer "burning out" each muscle group on one particular day. Instead, I'm hit each muscle group more frequently throughout the week. Plus, the number of exercises I'm doing has dropped significantly, and it had even before I switched to full body. That has been a year in the works.
Does this mean I don't always get as sore? Yes. Does this mean I'm not getting as good of a workout? Heck no.
Instead, I'm going into each workout with a fresh mindset, ready to listen to my body when it says today is not a good day to squat or (my favorite) when it says it's time to go for a deadlift PR. It's been this intuitiveness, not the "no pain, no gain" mentality, that has allowed me to hit the strength gains and PRs over the past few months that I have.
And that my friends, is how I've made this a lifestyle. I tried the "running myself into the ground" thing for years. It sucked, and trust me - it didn't work.
So instead, let's learn to listen to our bodies. Listen to what they truly need. Ditch that "no pain, no gain" mentality. Embrace the possibilities that come as a consequence.
Trust me - you'll thank me later.