No Pain, No Gain: Why Being Uncomfortable is a Good Thing

No Pain No Gain

You might imagine some burly Hans and Franz type bodybuilder to subscribe to the motto “no pain, no gain.”

Did I just date myself with that SNL reference?

But “no pain, no gain” isn’t some mindless fitness jargon. It’s a fundamental principle of the total body health equation.

If you want the gain, you gotta feel the pain.

Now, what I mean by “pain” is NOT physical suffering. We’re talking about slight physical discomfort. Take weight training, for example. Your muscles should be a little sore the next day.

They should not, however, be so painful that you can’t move and you’re eating aspirin like candy.

Mild physical discomfort is necessary to build strong muscles. You’re breaking down the tissue so you can build it up again.

Here’s another example: if you want to lose weight, you have to eat less. A smaller body doesn’t need as many calories to function as a larger one.

When you start eating smaller portion sizes, your body will notice, and you’ll experience some discomfort such as a grumbly tummy or a little ache of emptiness. Some people fear hunger so much that they never allow themselves to feel even the slightest bit hungry. I know—I used to be one of them.

And not surprisingly, those people don’t lose weight.

If you’re spending 20 minutes on the treadmill walking at 3 miles per hour and not even breaking a sweat, are you surprised that you’re not gaining any health benefits? Why bother at all if your workout is that lame?

It’s time to pump (*clap*) you up!

Slowly amp up your effort at whatever you’re doing until you get to the point of mild discomfort.

  • Increase the speed and/or incline on the treadmill.
  • Cut out one of your daily snacks.
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier or wake up 30 minutes earlier.
  • Try a new cardio class or workout DVD.

Then stay there for a while until you don’t feel the pain as intensely. For me, it takes about 2-3 weeks for my body to adjust.

And you know what happens when your body adapts and gets used to something—you’re not gaining anymore! Time to switch up your routine again.

Apply the “no pain, no gain” principle to your health and fitness regimen, and you’ll love the results.

No Austrian accent needed.

Do you believe in “no pain, no gain”?

3 Simple Steps to Become a Productivity Superstar

Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.


  1. Sarah @ This Is What I Eat on March 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I definitely believe in no pain no gain. I use this mentality in the gym all the time. I find a more challenging workout to be more satisfying to begin with and when I’m sore the next day or two I know I did something good for my body. That discomfort makes me feel better. It means something a little different nowadays as my joints and muscles are in a state of discomfort all the time so I have to use that as a gauge of whether or not I’m overexerting myself. It’s a thin line!

    Love the SNL reference 🙂 Those guys were hilarious!

    • Sage Grayson on March 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      You’re right it is a think line. I also like the little aches I feel the next day after a really good workout. It means I’m getting stronger!

  2. Rambling Vegans on March 12, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I was doing Jillian Michaels dvd’s for a while and she says this a lot. “If you’re not uncomfortable at least a little, nothing will change!”. I try to keep it in mind when I’m being challenged during my workout. It’s so true!

    • Sage Grayson on March 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      I love Jillian Michaels, and I appreciate that fact that she used to be heavy but worked hard to take care of her body. I think about what she’s say when I’m slacking off.