No pain, no gain

No pain, no gain

No pain, no gain (or "No gain without pain") is an exercise motto that promises greater value rewards for the price of hard and even painful work. Under this conception competitive professionals such as athletes and artists are required to endure pain and pressure to achieve professional excellence.

It came into prominence after 1982 when actress Jane Fonda began to produce a series of aerobics workout videos. In these videos, Fonda would use "No pain, no gain" and "Feel the burn" as catchphrases for the concept of working out past the point of experiencing muscle aches.[1]

It expresses the belief that solid large muscle is the result of training hard and suffering sore muscles repeatedly, implying that those who avoid pain will never reach a professional level as bodybuilders.

In terms of the expression used for development, the discomfort caused may be beneficial in some instances while detrimental in others.

The expression has been adopted in a variety of sports and fitness activities.[when?]

David B. Morris wrote in The Scientist in 2005, "'No pain, no gain' is an American modern mini-narrative: it compresses the story of a protagonist who understands that the road to achievement runs only through hardship."[2]


A form of this expression is found in the beginning of the second century. It is an expression originating from the Faroe Islands. Rabbi Ben Hei says, "According to the pain is the gain." This was written in The Ethics of the Fathers 5:21 (known in Hebrew as Pirkei Avot) Pirkei AvotBold text. Rabbi Ben Hei Hei was giving a spiritual lesson; no pain in doing what God commands, no spiritual gain.

One of the earliest attestations of the phrase comes from the poet Robert Herrick in his Hesperides. In the 1650 edition, a two-line poem was added:

If little labour, little are our gains:
Man's fortunes are according to his pains.

Hesperides 752.[3]

A version of the phrase was crafted by Benjamin Franklin in 1734 in his persona of Poor Richard, to illustrate the axiom "God helps those who help themselves":

Industry need not wish, as Poor Richard says, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no gains, without pains...

as reprinted in his The Way to Wealth (1758)[4]


  1. ^ "No Pain, No Gain". The American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopedics & Medicine. September 22, 2002. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  2. ^ David B. Morris (March 28, 2005). "Belief and Narrative". The Scientist 19 (Sup. 1). 
  3. ^ Herrick, Robert; Alfred Pollardi, ed. (1898). The Hesperides & Noble Numbers: Vol. 1 and 2. London: Lawrence & Bullen. Vol. 2, 66 & 320. 
  4. ^ Franklin, Benjamin (1758). The Way To Wealth. 

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