No Pain...No Gain...No More


I have always prided myself by living by the no pain, no gain mantra. It has been a mantra of mine for many years as an athlete growing up, when I was a bodybuilder and now someone who is extremely passionate about cycling.

Motivated by Pain and Suffering

For most of my life I have been motivated by pain. I needed pain and suffering to motivate myself. I have had the mentality that if I don’t go all out in the gym and feel beat up, I am wasting my time. No pain, no gain right? Recovery day? I don’t need a day off, that’s for lazy people. I train hard every day.

I had this idea I was going to get in the best cycling shape of my life this off-season. I geeked out and learned all about functional threshold power and watts per kilogram. Basically what that means the lighter I am and the more power I can produce the better cyclist I will be. I started out the year guns a blazing on my bike, training indoors and outside as the weather allowed.

As I was pushing my limit with the no pain no gain mentality I could feel my hip flexors getting tighter and tighter. I could feel me knee swelling up. I have had two major orthopedic surgeries in my day. I tore three knee ligaments playing football in college and I had a hip resurfacing procedure several years ago. Yes, I am bionic and I do set off the metal detectors in the airport. My mentality has been I am going to take my body to the limit and when it’s done, it’s done. No pain, no gain.

I continued to push through the signals that my body was sending to me on my cycling training program to back it down. But I didn’t. I was a man on a mission. I had this vision in my mind that I was going to blow everyone away on my group rides and I was going to be highly competitive in my age group in the races I entered this summer.

As I continued to push through, I decided to add a new stretch into my routine. It’s a banded hip flexor stretch that allows me to go deeper into the stretch with some added tension. With this no pain no gain mentality, I kept going deeper and deeper into the stretch until, pop! I heard and felt this loud pop that dropped me to my knees. I tore my hip flexor muscle that I am still recovering from a month later.

It’s Time For the No Pain No Gain Mantra to Go

The question is, am I finally going to learn that it’s time for the no pain no gain mantra to go. It’s time to lay that antiquated motto to rest. What I am being shown is that pain and suffering does not equal accomplishment. 

My ego and pride mentality says I have something to prove. I have to prove that I am enough because of my willingness to endure pain and suffering. I am being not fit unless I am training to the extremes. I have suffered from overtraining my whole life dealing with pulled muscles, tendonitis and fatigue.

I have learned a very powerful lesson in all of this. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I don’t need to have the no pain no gain mantra ringing in my head anymore. There is a better way to be in great shape without pain and suffering. I can be fit and healthy and not be in chronic pain. I don’t have to beat myself up to feel like I am good enough. 

You can let go of that mentality too. We do it all of the time. We beat ourselves up physically and mentally when we don’t think we are enough.

With Joy…With Love

My reality is that I have a hip tear that I am dealing with, but I am going to use this lesson to allow my hip to heal and get even fitter, but from a place of joy and love as opposed to pain and suffering. I am going to be motivated by joy and the love for my amazing body God has gifted me with

I am not going to take it for granted. I am going to allow my body rest and recovery as needed. I am going to train in a way where I have optimal health and fitness without being in chronic pain. No pain, no gain, no more.

God is love. Whether we have a tendency to under-train or over-train, God wants us to love our body. There is pain in under-training and there is pain in over-training. I am finding the middle ground to be the best place for optimal health and fitness.

I love to workout. I love to be out riding my bike. I am learning to do it in a way where it nourishes every part of my being, mind, body and soul. It’s a source of joy and creativity for me. My ego and pride says I have to be in pain and suffer when I train, God says do it in a way that shows love to Him and to myself. 

That is the possibility for all of us. That we take care of our bodies because it truly is a gift from God. The possibility is that we live a life full of energy, vitality, free from disease and pain through the joy of movement and the love for our body. 

My mantra is no longer going to be no pain no gain, it’s going to be with joy with love.

Troy Ismir

Spiritual Warrior Coach

Founder and Creator of Barbells & Brothers


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