I don’t think there are any high level strength athletes that will say they aren’t experiencing some degree of pain any given day. I don’t even think there are moderate level strength athletes that wouldn’t say the same.
At some point when you start to push the degree of performance to become the best you can be at a sport you will start to experience some pain. Add enough stress and the system will slowly start to break down. This is a conversation I’ve had with people more than once in regards to Olympic lifting and Powerlifting.
Through my experience there seems to be just a few ways people want to deal with this onset of pain.
One way is to let up on the gas and take a step back. The goal here is finding anyway to reduce volume and intensity. While this might be what you need in some circumstances, most of the times letting up on the gas results is not giving the adequate amount of stress needed to still improve performance.
The opposite way is to continue to push on the gas and move forward with training as per usual. It is my thought that this is probably the way to go. Not to deny anyone’s perceived pain as I truly won’t ever know what someone is perceiving, but I’m willing to guess most experiences of pain aren’t bad enough to need to drastically reduce volume and intensity.
You will also have the people that are stuck pushing the gas all the way down to the floor and they wonder why they aren’t seeing the progress they want.
Ultimately, I think we have to continue to find strategies for people where we aren’t eliminating work but finding ways to work. The accumulation of stress is the only way you will see increases in performance.
If you want to excel at a sport I think you have to get comfortable with some pain.
If your goal is not performance but general fitness, I think we have to find ways to eliminate pain all together while still accumulating work. I think the difference between the high performance end of the spectrum and the general fitness end is the specificity of the tasks. To increase performance you want to maintain as much specificity as possible. For increasing general fitness qualities I think you have to find ways that offer more variability.