Getting better hurts. If you’re trying to become stronger, you have to endure aches and pains, mental barriers, and heavy arse sets of Squats and Pulls. If you’re trying to get fitter, you have to deal with being heavily out of breath and feeling like your lungs are bleeding. Is this one of the biggest barriers that stop the everyday person from developing past a certain point during their training? Are people limiting their potential by stopping as soon as it becomes uncomfortable?

Earlier this week a group of us took a trip to a local commercial gym. It’s always great to train in different gyms and in different environments so we thought why not. The session itself was a great laugh. We hit some lifts on the platforms, before getting swole on the vast array of cable machines. We had a good craic about how there are 5 times as many benches as squat racks, and a great session all round.

What I did notice during the session though, was something on the Lat Pulldown machine. An ergonomically designed attachment. The bar had specific points moulded to fit perfectly into the users hand for maximum comfort, it was lovely. It was like getting a hand massage whilst blasting my lats.

Next to the Lat Pulldown was a Smith Machine. For anybody that doesn’t know what a Smith Machine is, it’s essentially a fixed barbell that only moves up and down. Nobody knows what the Smith Machine’s bar actually weighs, it’s one of life’s great mysteries. The bar was set at around shoulder height with a bar pad around the centre, just to make those awkward commercial Squats super comfortable. And here in lies the problem. 

A few years ago I had a new client come to me because they wanted to learn how Weightlift. They had never Snatched or Clean & Jerked before so it was a completely new experience. Half way through session one we had to stop because “the bar was too rough and was hurting their hands”. Now this wasn’t an Eleiko Competition bar, this was a training bar with next to no knurling on it. Needless to say, I was not the right coach for this person so we went our separate ways. 

To get better at anything, there is a certain degree of discomfort that you must go through. For a muscle to grow it must first be ripped to bits via training, hands must become callused to withstand repetitive barbell and rig use, and pads that are used to Back Squat with need to be sent back to the babies soft play area where they belong. To make a sword you need you need to plunge it into the fire and beat the sh*t out of it (roughly quoting David Goggins). 

So all joking aside my advice to you is this, if you truly want to get better at something, whether in training, sport or pretty much anything in life, don’t stop when it starts to become uncomfortable. I have nothing against commercial gyms, they are some of the greatest facilities in the world, and any gym that genuinely wants to help people get fitter stronger and healthier are ok in my books. As long as you are aware that it’s not about make things easier, it’s about not seeking out comfort or the path of least resistance. Be prepared to work hard, shoulder the discomfort, and reap the rewards! 

Happy training folks! 

If you enjoyed this post, check out my next post “Use Your Legs To Jerk“.