What Is The Most Painful Gym Exercise? (All The Answers Here)
If you are about to embark on your fitness journey or have been exercising for a while, you might be wondering – what is the most painful exercise and why?
The question does open a can of worms regarding what you consider painful and the reasons for this?
However, we are going to answer all the important questions below…
What Is The Most Painful Gym Exercise?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on each individual’s pain threshold and what type of pain they are most sensitive to. However, some exercises that tend to be particularly painful for many people include burpees, box jumps, pull-ups, and sprints. Are you thinking “painful” based on exercising to failure or discomfort doing the exercise itself? It also depends on what type of training you are doing (HIIT, Crossfit, or drop sets for example), the intensity of your workouts, and what your fitness goals are. If you have had any kind of injury in the past or maybe you have mobility or joint issues with certain parts of the body? All of these can contribute to why an individual would find several exercises painful.
Before we list an endless number of exercises you might consider painful, let’s look at what constitutes a painful exercise and why?
What Do You Class As a Painful Exercise and Why?
The first thing you should do is consult with your doctor, especially if you have any health concerns. If everything is good to go and you want to start exercising, then the best thing to do would be to ease yourself in gently.
What I mean by this, is don’t try and lift the heaviest weights straight away or do a crazy HIIT workout you saw on social media. Start with some basic exercises, using bodyweight and learning the correct form before progressing to more difficult movements.
You can also look at modifying certain exercises to make them easier or less painful. For example, if you have trouble doing a full push-up, then try knee push-ups instead.
Or if you can’t do a pull-up, try using an assisted machine or holding onto a resistance band.
Remember, everyone has to start somewhere and there is no shame in taking things slowly at the beginning. As you get fitter and stronger, you can then start to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Are You Warming Up?
One of the most common reasons why people can find exercise painful is because they neglect to warm up before doing any kind of training.
Warming up helps to increase your heart rate, blood flow and lubricates your joints. It also Prepares your muscles for the workout ahead by helping to increase the range of motion.
You should aim to do some kind of light aerobic activity for 5-10 minutes before starting your main workout. This could be anything from jogging on the spot to riding a bike or even just walking up and down the stairs.
Once you have finished your main workout, it is also important to cool down properly. This helps your body to transition back to its resting state and can help to prevent any post-exercise aches and pains.
A cooldown could involve some light stretching, walking, or jogging on the spot for a few minutes.
Why Are Certain Exercises Painful?
Certain exercises may be painful due to many different factors and everyone’s genetic makeup.
For example, some people might find doing pull-ups very painful due to the fact they might have long arms. This puts more strain on the muscles and tendons in the shoulder which can lead to discomfort and pain.
Other exercises such as box jumps or burpees may be painful for some people as they put a lot of stress on the lower body joints such as the knees, hips, and ankles.
If you have any pre-existing injuries or joint problems, then certain exercises may aggravate these and cause pain. It is always best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise regime.
Some people also have a higher pain tolerance than others and can therefore train at a higher intensity without feeling any pain.
Related: Is Progressive Overload Important On A Calorie Deficit? (4 Things To Achieve Maximum Overload)
What Are Your Fitness Goals?
Before we get into the fundamentals of what might be the most painful exercise for you, it’s important to think about your fitness goals.
What are you hoping to achieve by working out? Are you trying to lose weight, build muscle, or just generally improve your fitness levels?
Your fitness goals will play a big part in what kind of workout you should be doing and how intense it should be.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight then you might want to do a HIIT workout which is known to be more effective for burning fat.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to build muscle then you need to be lifting weights and doing more resistance-based exercises.
And finally, if you’re just trying to improve your overall fitness then a mix of both cardio and strength training is the best way to go.
Any Joint or Mobility Issues?
Another important factor to consider is whether or not you have any joint or mobility issues.
If you do, then certain exercises may be painful or even impossible to do. For example, someone with a bad back might find doing squats very painful.
Similarly, someone with knee problems might find running or jumping exercises too much for their joints.
It’s important to listen to your body and if an exercise is causing you pain, then stop doing it. There is no shame in taking things slowly or modifying exercises to make them more suitable for your needs.
Is Pain Dependant on How You Train?
The pain you experience from exercise also depends on how you train.
If you’re someone who just goes to the gym and does the same workout day in and day out, then you’re more likely to find it boring and painful.
However, if you mix things up and keep your body guessing, then you’re less likely to get bored and more likely to push through the pain.
This could involve doing a different workout every day, changing the exercises you do, adding in new challenges, or even just varying the intensity of your workouts.
The bottom line is that exercise shouldn’t be painful all the time. There will be days when you find it tough but overall it should be something that makes you feel good.
If you’re consistently in pain when working out, then it’s time to reassess your goals, your fitness level, and how you’re training.
Are You Going to Failure?
One final point to consider is whether or not you’re pushing yourself to failure.
This is when you can no longer do an exercise for the prescribed number of reps or you can’t complete the set.
If you’re constantly working out at this level, then it’s no wonder you’re finding it painful!
Pushing yourself to failure is fine occasionally but it shouldn’t be the norm. If you are going to failure on every set, then you need to back off and reassess your training program.
Could Any Pain Be Down to DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is a type of pain that can occur 24-48 hours after a workout.
It’s caused by microscopic tears in the muscles and is perfectly normal. In fact, it’s often seen as a sign that you’ve had a good workout!
DOMS can be quite painful but it’s usually nothing to worry about. The pain should subside within a few days and there are things you can do to help ease the discomfort, such as taking a hot bath or using a foam roller.
If the pain is severe or lasts longer than a week, then it’s worth seeing a doctor just to be on the safe side.
Building Strength In Certain Areas to Reduce Pain?
Some exercises that tend to be particularly painful for many people include burpees, box jumps, pull-ups, and sprints. However, building up strength in these areas can help reduce pain.
Start by doing the exercise with no weight or resistance. Once you can do this comfortably, then start adding in some weight or resistance.
You might also want to try using a band or other type of assistance to help you with the exercise.
Remember, the key is to start slowly and build up gradually.
How Long Have You Trained?
If you’re new to exercise, then it’s normal to find things a bit painful at first.
Your body isn’t used to the stresses and strains of working out and it will take some time to adjust.
However, if you’ve been training for a while and you’re still finding things painful, then it’s worth reassessing your program.
It could be that you’re doing too much too soon or you might need to focus on building strength in certain areas.
Types Of Training That May Cause Pain
There are numerous ways to train and some are more likely to cause pain than others. Here is a list below of some of them:
Blood Flow Restriction Training – This is where you restrict the flow of blood to the working muscles. It’s often used to help people recover from injuries but it can also be quite painful.
Isometrics – You hold a muscle in a static position for some time. It’s a great way to build strength but it can be quite painful, especially if you’re not used to it.
Crossfit – This is training that incorporates a lot of different exercises, often at high intensity. It’s great for improving fitness but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
High-Intensity Interval Training – This type of training alternates between periods of high and low intensity. It’s great for improving fitness but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
Tabata – This is a type of high-intensity interval training that is very intense and often quite painful. Tabata training breaks a workout down into clearly defined intervals – typically, 20 seconds of a push-it-to-the-limit exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Drop Sets – A type of weightlifting where you lower the weight after each set. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
Super Sets – Weightlifting where you do two or more sets of an exercise back-to-back with no rest in between. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
Rest-Pause Sets – This is a type of weightlifting where you take a short break after each rep. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
Forced Reps – Weightlifting where you have someone else help you with the last few reps of an exercise. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
Negative Reps – A type of weightlifting where you lower the weight slower than you lift it. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
Pyramid Sets – This is a type of weightlifting where you start with a lighter weight and then gradually increase the weight as you go. It’s a great way to build strength and muscle but it can also be quite tough on the body, leading to pain and injuries.
Below is a list of all the exercises people may find painful, for any of the reasons stated above:
- Behind the head lat pull-down
- Kettlebell swings
- Any type of squat
- Any type of deadlift
- Any type of plank
- Rowing machine
- Farmers walk
- Upright rows
For some, many of these exercises will be ok and won’t cause any pain.
Another thing to consider is the weight you are using with any given exercise, as this too will have a massive bearing on the pain level you experience.
Using too heavy a weight will cause pain for obvious reasons, along with the possibility of causing serious injury too.
Exercises like squats and deadlifts do use up a lot of energy, which can lead to pain in muscles the following day. This is perfectly normal and is often referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
You should also never try to push through pain if you are feeling it during a workout. Theres a difference between muscle soreness and working through the pain barrier, doing so may cause more harm in the long run.
The element of pain involved with gym exercise is subjective to the individual, and for various reasons stated here, as to whether they find certain exercises painful or not.
Which exercises cause you pain and has this article helped you in anyway?
Let Me know below, I would love to hear your thoughts…