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Seek Discomfort
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Chris Shugart
Director of Content

Join date: Oct 2002
Posts: 17381

Seek Discomfort

The other day I was perusing some old pics of Arnold when I came across the one above. Something about it struck me as odd, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

Then it hit me... Look at his feet.

Probably not too comfortable propped up on that metal bar. But Arnold did it anyway because it was probably the only way to perform those elevated triceps dips. There was no padded machine for that exercise, so he had to "make do."

Arnold was also known to use trees as pull-up bars in his youth, and he once broke into his local gym to train in the winter, writing later in his biography that the barbells were so cold that his hands froze to them as he began to sweat.

Now, compare that to today's average gym member. Everything has to be padded and clean and convenient. If conditions aren't perfect, they won't train at all. No bar pad? Can't squat then. Raining outside? Good enough reason to skip today's workout.

Since I cut my teeth in dirty school and garage facilities, I've never had a problem with discomfort in the gym. I had to make do in the early days. Bent bars, improper equipment, holes in the floor, no AC, you name it. I once trained in a gym so ratty that none of the dumbbells matched. Se we had to bench with, say, an 85 pound dumbbell in one hand and an 80 in the other, then switch hands on the next set.

It was uncomfortable. We didn't have pretty, perfect equipment. We had to jury-rig and made-do and get ugly.

But we actually felt pretty privileged because we'd read about how old-school strongmen didn't even have power racks. If they wanted to squat, they'd have to turn the bar up on one end, then basically let it fall across their shoulders to get it into squat position. Hell, at least we had a squat rack, rickety and rusty though it was.

I train in a nice gym these days, but part of me actually misses the crappy made-do gyms of the past. Then again, it's nice to have bathroom facilities. Wanna hear how we used to go into the corner of the old gyms and piss into Gatorade bottles? Didn't think so.

Discomfort is a good thing. It toughens you up, and it's often a sign of good things to come. For example, discomfort in the gym when trying a new exercise leads to new muscle growth.

Discomfort can be physical and psychological. Trying barbell good mornings for the first time is physically uncomfortable. The bar hurts. You have to bend at the waist and activate muscles you may not have used much before. And the next day you're sore from your hams all the way into your lower back.

It's also psychologically uncomfortable. You have to stick your butt out and bend over. It can look almost sexual. Some people are so uncomfortable sticking their asses out at the rest of the gym that they simply won't perform the exercise, no matter how effective it is for them.

But with both types of discomfort, there are rewards: a well-developed, strong posterior chain -- better hamstrings, better glutes, a strong and stable low back...if you can face the discomfort.

You know I'm about to make an analogy about how lessons we learn in the gym transfer over to "real life," right? Well, here it comes.

Just about every time I've felt discomfort creeping into my life and I've decided to experience it and face it, good things have happened. Whether it's something big (taking a risk with my career) or something small (having the balls to go up and talk to a beautiful woman) 99% of the time it lead to something positive (better income, more sex, etc.) But it was uncomfortable at first.

By avoiding discomfort you miss out on some of the best things in life. There's an old saying about critics that goes like this, "If you want to avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." The same can be said of discomfort:

If you want to avoid discomfort, do nothing, experience nothing, be nothing.

You won't be uncomfortable. But you won't really be alive either.

Seek discomfort. Do front squats. Talk to that girl.

Take risks.

Live.

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totti13
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Join date: Aug 2008
Posts: 419

nice one

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HG Thrower
Level 5

Join date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1285

Good post. More people need to read this. I've been finishing my squat day with a balls-out 15-rep set of Overhead Squats, just because if it hurts that damn bad, it must be accomplishing something!

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Efuchs7
Level 5

Join date: Jan 2009
Posts: 590

Nice I've been finishing my workouts with overhead squats too... Just the bar for now with sets of 25. This olympic lifter who is 57 said that I had the best form he ever seen for never doing this before. This was a great article and I always enjoy getting uncomfortable and doing that which I hate to love and love to hate.

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conorh
Level 3

Join date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2713

A wrote a similarly titled blog entry here:

http://conorattack.wordpress.c...

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BobParr
Level 3

Join date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1479

Very nice post! I recently saw some news headline about the search for something they called exercise in a pill. Talk about avoiding discomfort. Epic fail.

As for doing front squats and talking to that girl: how about talking to that girl about doing front squats? The potential is there to discover a t-vixen in the making!

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Shiggy
Level 10

Join date: Jul 2003
Posts: 199

One of the best quotes of life ever: "Everything you want in life is just outside of your comfort zone."

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MaximusB
Level 5

Join date: Apr 2006
Posts: 15362

This is one of my favorite articles you have written Chris, becoming too civilized can be detrimental sometimes.

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Lift or die
Level

Join date: Jun 2009
Posts: 217

Weird I just wrote a paper on change and how all positive change were uncomfortable and to make a positive change you have to step out of your comfort zone. I have no problem working hard in the gym I usually have to hold myself back but when it comes to having the balls to go up and talk beautiful woman I find myself trying to stay in my comfort zone. I will no longer be like that!

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Chris Shugart
Director of Content

Join date: Oct 2002
Posts: 17381

Lift or die wrote:
. I have no problem working hard in the gym I usually have to hold myself back but when it comes to having the balls to go up and talk beautiful woman I find myself trying to stay in my comfort zone. I will no longer be like that!


The experts call that "approach anxiety." Very common. I think it's mentioned in our article here: http://www.tmuscle.com/...etting_laid&cr=


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B-Man
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Join date: Apr 2009
Posts: 430

Nice man...motivating stuff!

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winkroar3
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Join date: Aug 2008
Posts: 527

Hey Chris. Good post. And motivating. I agree with you on doing effective movements
and not worrying what others think. Have you ever posted in Steroids forum? You would be
welcome there.

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Chris Shugart
Director of Content

Join date: Oct 2002
Posts: 17381

winkroar3 wrote:
Hey Chris. Good post. And motivating. I agree with you on doing effective movements
and not worrying what others think. Have you ever posted in Steroids forum? You would be
welcome there.


Thanks.

No, I don't visit the steroid forum. A lot of my early career revolved around writing about steroids, and I "scratched the itch" and did a light cycle over a decade ago during this time. I knew then that they just weren't for me for various reasons.


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BobParr
Level 3

Join date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1479

Shiggy wrote:
One of the best quotes of life ever: "Everything you want in life is just outside of your comfort zone."


What a great quote! I recently watched the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man. The message behind it was basically the same: if you open yourself up to recognizing and exploring new opportunities, you will get pretty far outside of your comfort zone - but that's when good things happen.

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Blackaggar
Level 2

Join date: Apr 2009
Posts: 2530

Man, awesome post it reminded me of how I was before I started playing rugby. I learned from that then even though sometimes it hurt to breath and you felt really sick and sometimes dizzy you had no choice but to keep going. no matter how bad it got not so much in the games but the fitness drills, it really taught a lot and being uncomfortable turned out to be the best place to be.

Same with squats. I didn't start even doing them this until earlier this year because I knew it would hurt my neck and I would probably only be able to do 1 plate and it would be embarrassing for a long time. But I tried them one day and was so happy and surprised with how much I could do and now it's my second favorite exercise. Being uncomfortable relates to so many things and I believe the more we're uncomfortable the more confident we become thus, the stronger we become.

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FightinIrish26
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Join date: Feb 2005
Posts: 17205

I liked it.

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JPCleary
Level 4

Join date: Mar 2009
Posts: 725

This one was right up my alley...I think comfort is way overrated.

Here are the quotes from my FaceBook profile if anybody is into quotes on the topic. The last one is from my 11 year old daughter. She said it the other day when we were talking about training..I thought, damn that's pretty good, that's going on the FB page.

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved." ~Helen Keller

"Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit."
~Edwin Cole

"Pain is weakness leaving the body."
~USMC

"Minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled, ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort."
~Charles Dickens

"Don't wish it were easier...wish you were better."
~Jim Rohn

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment"
~Jim Rohn

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."
~Jim Rohn

"We must all suffer one of two things...the pain of discipline, or the pain of disappointment"
~Jim Rohn

"The introduction of resistance in the form of sand and hill is too important to be ignored. If you die, I'll bury you in the sand hills with all the other runners."
~Percy Cerutty

"Pain is strength. Suffering is character."
~Halley Cleary

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Con@n
Level 2

Join date: Dec 2008
Posts: 330

I logged on just to say this is a great post.

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Marzouk
Level

Join date: Jul 2009
Posts: 3232

the matts on my gym floor used to react with the trainers i wore at the time an d every time i touched a piece of equipment it used to get an electric shock. pain in the ass!

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CurrentProphet
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Join date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1

Great Hammer. It boils it down to what I always tell my kids. "Growth hurts."

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1stud
Level 2

Join date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1

The second tattoo I got: Audentis Fortuna Iuvat. Fortune favors the bold, in latin (as it was written by Virgil in the Aeneid). Great as always Chris.

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jfram
Level 3

Join date: Jul 2009
Posts: 76

Chris,
I haven't been on here in too long, but just had to re-read this one, it is one of my "go-tos" when I need some get-up-n-go!

Thanks for this!

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Chris Shugart
Director of Content

Join date: Oct 2002
Posts: 17381

jfram wrote:
Chris,
I haven't been on here in too long, but just had to re-read this one, it is one of my "go-tos" when I need some get-up-n-go!

Thanks for this!



Awesome. Thanks!

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Top.Hat.Ninja
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Join date: Nov 2012
Posts: 16

Great post Shugart! I totally find this in my workouts. I started training with a personal trainer and was a little doubtfull of some of things she made me do (bent over rows) I was like "but won't bending hurt my back?" and "why do my hamstrings hurt from this maybe its not right" but now.. oh now how I see the ever increasing growth from discomfort XD thanks for the article Shugart

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