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no pain, no gain

Suffering is needed to make progress, as in I've worked for hours on those irregular French verbs, but no pain, no gain. Although this idiom is often associated with athletic coaches who urge athletes to train harder, it dates from the 1500s and was already in John Ray's proverb collection of 1670 as “Without pains, no gains.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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