push through the pain of a tough workout

Let’s be completely honest here.

No matter how motivated you are or how good of shape you’re in, there are undoubtedly going to be times during your workouts that you’ll feel like you can’t push any harder. That you just can’t go on.

Because during the very toughest of workouts, your muscles will feel like they’re literally on fire. Your heart will feel like it’s going to thump right out of your chest. Your lungs will feel like they’re going to burst into thousands of pieces.

You’ll feel like you want to take a break. To quit. To give up.

And the truth is that no one would blame you if you did. In fact, most people—99% of people in fact—would say that you’re crazy if you did go on.

“You did your very best,” they’d say. “Those workouts are crazy, anyway. No normal person should be able to do them.”

But you’re not them. You’re not normal. You’re the 1%. And you won’t give up. You can’t give up.

You’re tougher than the rest of them. More badass.

It’s not easy. But if you put your mind to it, you can push through a tough workout, every single time.

Here’s how to get through even the most brutal of workouts: 

Pick a mantra.

There’s something about a mantra that somehow tricks your brain into believing something is true. It feels kind of like magic, and if you’ve never tried it before, you might think it’s pretty weird—but it only takes trying a few times it to realize how awesome it mantras really are.

I’ve had various mantras in the past—at one point in my life, my mantra was, “I am a writer” (because I never used to think I was good enough to be a real writer). I’ve also picked mantras ranging everywhere from “I will not give up” to “I can f*#@ing do this.”

And trust me, they work.

It doesn’t matter what your mantra is. Just pick something that motivates you to keep going… then repeat it, over and over, during your workout, or before your workout, or really, whenever you need it—and never, ever give up.

Distract yourself

There’s no doubt about it: without some sort of distraction, it’s pretty difficult to push your body past its normal comfort level. That’s why you need to find something to distract yourself with during your workouts.

This could be some loud music, a fascinating podcast, or even Meet the Press (yes, I do watch this during my Sunday/Monday workouts). Or, it could simply be a friend who motivates you to keep going.

No matter what your chosen distraction, make sure you’re not so distracted that it makes you forget your workout completely.

Chase a goal.

Struggling through those last reps day after day with no goal in sight? No wonder you’re having trouble motivating yourself to push through the pain—it’s nearly impossible for any sane human being to try and kill themselves through exercise without actually having a purpose of any kind.

So pick a goal to chase, and you’ll suddenly feel a lot more motivated to go on.

Your goal could be looks-based (fit into a certain pair of jeans, look good in your summer bikini/board shorts, etc.), fitness-based (learn to do a handstand push up, up the weight on your kettlebell swings, etc.), or even competition-based (compete in a sprint triathlon, beat your buddy at the 100 burpees challenge, etc.).

Whatever it is, make sure it’s motivating enough to keep you working hard.

Visualize the end.

Know that feeling of your workout being over? That moment when the timer beeps a few extra beeps, and you no longer have to move at all all day long if you don’t want to?

When you’re in the middle of a really hard workout, it’s sometimes hard to remember how incredible you feel after a workout—but chasing this feeling can get you through even those ruthless last reps.

All you have to do is picture that moment when you can lay on the floor in a sweaty heap, foam roll, and make a delicious post-workout protein shake—all while feeling like you just kicked some serious ass.

If this doesn’t help you get through your workouts, nothing can.

You can push through the pain

It’s up to you.

You can give up… or you can give it all you’ve got.

You can make your muscles burn like they’ve never burned before. Get so sweaty there’s an actual pool of sweat beneath you. Push past that last excruciating, impossible-seeming rep.

You’re tough. You can do anything.

But no one can force you to work hard. It’s completely up to you whether you want to continue on, or throw your hands up in defeat.

So what will you choose?