Exercise! How Much Should It Hurt?

According to the countless advertisements on TV, the never ending “Beast Mode” workout posts on social media, and the ever growing number of people waiting in line for their brand new knees, backs, hips, and shoulders, I’d say exercise hurts like hell! But the truth is…it shouldn’t hurt at all.


When did exercise stop being a first class ticket to the fountain of youth and instead become an all-out race to see who can beat their bodies up the fastest? Unfortunately, it’s been this way for a long time; maybe even since it started way back when exercise was moving boulders, hauling trees, and chasing animals to eat, instead of lifting dumbbells and barbells and running on treadmills. My point is…exercise does not guarantee health like it’s supposed to, and from what I’ve seen over my 25 years in the fitness industry, there’s a whole lot of people running, pumping, jumping, and pounding their way to a different type of exercise – physical therapy.


This is exactly why I do what I do: Teaching as many people as I can to know what’s right and what’s wrong in exercise. Regardless of which method of exercise you choose – weight training, running, aerobic classes, sports specific training, HIT (high intensity training), Olympic lifting, or any of those box gym workouts – there are certain things nobody should do to their bodies with exercise. And at the same time, there are certain things everybody should do in exercise.


Take a look at these lists below and see if you’re really killing your workouts, or if your workouts are killing you.


Your workouts are killing you if:

  • You exercise sore muscles
  • You work through joint pain
  • You skip warming up
  • You work out so hard you get nauseated
  • You’re working out with tendonitis
  • You self-diagnose pain and injuries
  • You swing, bounce, jerk, or pop during weight training
  • You have soreness which lasts longer than 72 hours
  • Your soreness causes you to modify how you move around
  • Your joints ache during and after your workouts
  • You take fitness advice based on how fit the advisor looks
  • You don’t go slow with resistance exercises
  • You skip stretching
  • You go as hard as you can every single workout and never adjust the intensity
  • You never or very seldom take days off from exercise
  • You are emotionally dependent on exercise




You’re killing your workouts if:

  • You never exercise a sore muscle or muscle group
  • If you have pain during a workout, you modify the exercise or stop
  • If you have an injury, you get checked out by a doctor
  • You always warm up and do a warm up set prior to each exercise you do
  • You always stretch before each exercise session
  • You always go slow and control each exercise with no cheating
  • You never have soreness lasting for more than 72 hours
  • You feel energized and not drained after your workouts
  • You research exercise methods and advice before using it
  • You listen to your body and back off when you feel tired, more soreness than usual, or when you’ve missed a week or two of workouts
  • You take and record heart rates and other data every time you exercise
  • You’re aware that what you see is not what you get with most exercise advertisements
  • You take a few days each week and 1-2 weeks a year off from exercise
  • You are not emotionally dependent on exercise



The fitness industry has pumped up the notion that to get fit and strong you have to pound your body as hard and as often as you can. I mean, how else are you going to have the body of the ones you see in workout videos and programs on TV and on social media? The things those advertisements don’t tell you is that there’s a lot more going on than exercise and eating right. Let’s just say there’s a variety of “supplements” being taken, and you can bet this will never be disclosed.


The best advice I can give you on exercise is to listen to what your body is telling you, and if you’re having pain in your joints, extreme soreness, lack of energy, and your legs feel way heavier than they should; back off before it’s too late. Because if you don’t, a much bigger pain is coming your way, and you’re going to feel a whole lot more than a burn.


Bobby Whisnand, “The Exercise Doctor”


Disclaimer: Bobby Whisnand and his trainers are not medical doctors. They do not prescribe any medical treatment or medication and do not diagnose any health conditions, injuries, or pain. They are Certified Specialists in Exercise Therapy and can work in conjunction with doctors, surgeons, and physical therapist.