Learn to listen to what the body is telling you.

I am sure we have all heard our training partners and coaches yell "Push it man! One more Rep, one more set, one more round, don't quit, don't quit, DON'T QUIT!" or have laid our eyes on slogans such as "Pain is temporary, Pride is forever" and "Pain is merely weakness leaving the body" plastered on gym walls all over the world ... I know I have.

Anyway... the reason I felt inclined to write this article is because sometimes pain is not temporary and not knowing how to listen to your body can lead to detrimental set-backs in your athletic career and lessen your over-all quality of life. I know, I am a 25 year old professional mixed martial artist who has been sidelined by a severe spinal injury that could have been avoided if I had listened to my body instead of trying to be a super-human in the gym and work through the pain.

Now, by no means am I condoning laziness or a lack of effort in the gym. The gym is not a social-club or an outing... the gym is work. And when you go to work you have a job to do, and if you don't do your job you get fired. The same principle applies to the gym... if you go to the gym and don't work you won't get the results you desire.

After sustaining a number of minor injuries and having to miss a couple weeks from training here and there I realized that I had to change my mind-set. My goal went from trying to lift the heaviest weights I could, doing as many sprints as I could, and sparring as many rounds as humanly possible, to trying to make each session as grueling as possible but not grueling enough to make me miss out on the next days sessions.

As a professional athlete I have trained and competed hurt a number of times...that is part of the job. However, there is a big difference between being hurt and being injured.

Training consistently is the key to improving and sometimes training smarter is far more beneficial than training harder. I know... this is much easier said than done.

Ian Dawe: Professional MMA fighter, part time actor, full time dreamer.
Personal Website: http://WWW.IANDAWE.COM