Rethinking No Pain, No Gain: An Evolved Approach To Fitness With Insights From Four Experts


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This show is about rethinking the basic notions of athletic training, particularly the “no pain, no gain” model that’s been widely criticized but is still embedded into DNA of many competitive athletes.

This show was syndicated on the Primal Endurance podcast, so if you are an endurance athlete, definitely check out that show and learn how to pursue endurance goals in a healthy, balance banner. I was a pro athlete for nine years and been in the fitness business for 30 years, but in the last couple years I’ve met some people that have absolutely blown my mind with evolved insights and athletic training, performance, and recovery. In particular, we are experiencing an awakening in the fitness world as to the importance of recovery in the big picture of peak performance. For decades, we’ve been stuck in a narrow mentality focused on conducting a thoughtful and effective pattern of workouts as the end-all for fitness success. What a joke. It’s time to wake up and learn some insights that will transform your approach to fitness, and help you preserve your health as you pursue ambitious fitness goals.

I compiled some brief insights from an assortment of fitness leaders, patching them together to an interesting and memorable. I know you may like to listen to podcasts on the go, but this show requires some note taking. Do what these folks say you will become a better athlete and healthier person. Here is the dream team for insights and a sound bite for the insights detailed on the show:

Dr. Phil Maffetone: The godfather of aerobic training and fat-adapted eating has been preaching the same message for nearly 40 years. Finally, people are paying attention and the MAF training concepts are becoming highly respected and adopted by endurance athletes.

  • MAF heart rate: The maximum aerobic heart rate is the upper limit for an effective aerobic workout. It’s 180-age in beats per minute. Go faster as a pattern (extremely common for endurance athletes of all levels) and you will dig yourself a grave of overtraining and overstress.
  • Stressful workouts—return on investment: You need never exceed 90% of maximum heart rate when conducting high intensity intervals, time trials, tempo sessions, or group classes. Topping out at 90 percent of max is vastly less stressful that taking things up to true max. You get only moderately different training stimulation but vastly more stress and recovery time necessary. Oh mercy, I wish I knew and honored this in my triathlon career. Lots of effort and money was left in workouts that should have been saved carefully for race day!

Brian McKenzie: The Power, Speed, Endurance guru and author of Unbreakable Runner is now obsessed with breathing and recovery as the primary focus for fitness enthusiasts. If you learn to breathe correctly, you minimize the stress impact of the workout and spend more time in healthy balance between sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system function. Brian helped endurance athletes embrace the importance of intensity instead of just road slog; now he is poised to help all athletes embrace the importance of recovery—including cutting edge techniques for breathing and hot and cold therapy. Listen to his show on the Get Over Yourself podcast!

Joel Jamieson: The guru of Recovery Based Training talks about Rebound workouts, where doing a focused protocol of movements in the gym can actually speed up recovery! I have only recently implemented Joel’s techniques, and with great success. Previously, I thought that sleeping more, napping, and relaxing on the couch were the ultimate recovery tools. Joel’s workout features breathing, stretching, mobility/range of motion exercise, doing positive lifts only (dropping the weight after lifting to avoid eccentric), and doing very short intervals with mindful heart rate lowering during long recovery periods.

Craig Marker: Craig and Pavel Tsatsouline of StrongFirst are making some awesome breakthroughs in training theory that you absolutely must try. First, dig the concept of HIRT instead of HIIT. The latter, High Intensity Interval Training, is a term that’s been bantered about for years as the foundation of serious athletic training. High Intensity Repeat Training conveys a different concept where you focus on producing repeat efforts of explosive, intense effort without declining performance and getting tired with successive efforts. This is similar to Jacques Devore’s breakthrough method called Maximum Sustained Power (MSP) that is detailed in the book Primal Endurance.

How to transition to HIRT and MSP? Freakin’ rest more between efforts man! And stop the workout when you notice performance declining! I have recently implemented the HIRT concept with fabulous success. I will be doing a whole show about it in the future, so stay tuned. HIIT workouts lead to exhaustion, extended recovery time and ultimately burnout. Why do almost all group exercise workouts, high school and college team workouts, and personal trainers believe that HIIT is the way? Dated and misinterpreted science, such as the “bastardization of the Tabata concept” as Craig says.

If you are a serious fitness enthusiast, this show can transform your approach, make recovery better, and change your entire life in the process!

TIMESTAMPS: Some exercise programs are disastrously flawed and set you up for an overly stressful life. [03:51]

Recovery is very important. [04:55]

The most enthusiastic athletes as well as the casual fitness person need to learn how to work-out in a way that doesn’t do damage. [08:24]

The Maffetone method is: slow down and emphasize aerobic development. For heart rate, the formula is 180 minus your age. [12:11]

You need not ever exceed 90% of your maximum heart rate, even during the most intense and explosive training sessions. [14:09]

Brian MacKenzie,’s contribution to this is suggesting to endurance athletes to add Crossfit training into their routines. [18:30]

What’s the big deal about breathing? [21:32]

Dial things down. [24:24]

Rebound workouts are sessions you perform when you are trying to recover from high stress training sessions. [26:13]

HIIT is high intensity interval training. [30:55]

Sprinting is very important. [32:32]

When lifting, pick a weight you could do eight times, make sure to do a succession of sets with a declining number of reps in order to make sure you are rested and explosive for each effort. [37:59]

Brad summarizes the messages in this podcast. [41:59]

107 episodes available. A new episode about every 3 days averaging 43 mins duration .