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Working Harder Does not Make you Stronger

How many of us have heard the mantra “No pain, no gain?” Or been in a class that we were told that if we wanted results we needed to “push harder” and “when it burns, that is when it counts the most.” It makes my blood boil. Why do we need to abuse ourselves to get results?

There is no truth to back those statements up. It is super unfortunate that what you are hearing is someone repeat what they have been told. Pushing your body harder when it has reached its limits is irresponsible. Your body will not get stronger, you will not get the results and if you do it will be at a price that is not worth paying.

When you are working out and you feel that voice that says “enough” and “I cannot take another minute” – stop. Take a rest. Even if you are in a class with others and you do not want to be “behind.” Stop and take rest. Love your boundaries. That makes you strong. Pushing is a form of not consenting to your body and that can leave you weak and vulnerable. Take rest. Get into a child’s pose and close your eyes for a deep pause. And begin again when your body says yes.

Learning to listen and consent to “No this does not feel good” is a practice that takes time. We have been well conditioned.

“But how will I get stronger that way?” Getting stronger has nothing to do with pushing your body past its limits. (In some circles it does, but trust me, you might not want to be a part of that circle.) That is a myth that pervades our culture and we have all fallen prey to it. Getting stronger has to do with awareness. Being present and paying attention to your body signals as a truth. We need to learn to consent to our inner voices.

“But what if I cannot handle being pushed at all and my pattern is to run away anytime I get asked to do something a little out of my comfort zone?” If you are that person, the fact that you know that is already a start and the next step is to really learn when the inner voice is from a pattern or it is from truly not having the strength to continue. I hate endurance work and when I begin to do anything that requires it I immediately feel like I need to stop right away. But I have become really good at knowing what is a pattern and what is really my body saying something so I can manage that moment. I ignoring that voice is not wise. I spend time checking in so often and unpacking my shit that I have gotten pretty good at discerning when I am in that moment if the “stop” voice is a pattern or a reality. It was not always easy for me to know and I had my fair share of lessons learned. Without those lessons learned, though I would still be stuck in a pattern.

When your body says “stop” and you do not consent – you are robbing yourself of a deeper connection to you, to reality and to life. And you are not getting stronger because from a physical point – pushing past limits does not make you stronger. Full stop. When you are in a workout class and you hear the mantras – “no pain no gain,” “when it starts to hurt, that is where the change happens,” “transformation requires pain” – just tune them out and if you need to stop and rest. Do it. You will still be transformed and changed. Despite the message, you will not be locked out of transformation.