The Truth Behind No Pain No Gain

by fauzi

Everyone has heard the old adage, “no pain, no gain”, and while to a certain extent it’s true, to a larger degree, it’s not! While this sounds awfully contradictory, in reality, there is a bit of truth to it.

When trainers and exercise gurus state “no pain no gain” what they are trying to say is, “get up off the couch and exercise.” They’re certainly not advocating excessive physical pain to gain muscle or lose fat. However, it’s a known fact that when you first start exercising after long periods of dormancy, a beginner is going to experience muscle pain. This can’t be helped. So, the pain in this case is justified and understood.

Where the adage is a bit misleading comes in with body builders who feel the more reps they do, the higher the weights, the more it hurts and burns, the bigger their muscles will become. This is NOT the truth. In fact, in order to test this idea, an Olympic weightlifting squad was studied by experts in Europe. These specialists tracked the weightlifters blood chemistry 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. What they discovered is that after about 45 minutes of heavy weight lifting, testosterone levels dropped by as much as 80% with cortisol taking over. Because testosterone is responsible for the muscle growth and recovery, dropping this much prevents muscles from increasing and a plateau in a workout.

Eating a large caloried diet is another thought process many weight lifters have embraced. The pain here is not eating TOO much. While it’s true you want to eat more calories than burned, a smart lifter won’t eat excessively more. Certainly, once your metabolism has stabilized and become more efficient, more calories are possible, but in the beginning, watch the in-take. Remember, all calories are not created equally, so, be sure to put an emphasis on the good fats, complex carbs and high quality proteins.

For more information on why pain is not always necessary to gain muscle, go to There, you’ll learn which is better, leg extensions or squats? They also touch on whether lifting slowly really does make muscle grow faster.