How to Push Through the Pain of a Tough Workout

push through the pain of a tough workout

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.

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 the pain of 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 a little strange—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 the toughest parts of your workout, or really, whenever you need it—and never, ever give up.

Distract Yourself

Without some sort of distraction, it can be incredibly 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 of your favorite energizing music, a fascinating podcast, or even a news show on in the background. 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. 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 certainly be appearance-based (to fit into a certain pair of jeans, look good in your summer bikini/board shorts, etc.), but I find it much more motivating to chose goals that have nothing to do with looks.

Alternatively, goals that are 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 Burpee Challenge, etc.) will keep you going longer.

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

Visualize the End

Know that feeling when your workout is finally over?

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, your heart pound out of your chest, and maybe even get your next PR—as long as you don’t give up.

You’re tough. You can do anything you put your mind to.

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

So what will you choose?

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11 thoughts on “How to Push Through the Pain of a Tough Workout”

  1. Its been really written by someone who really is out there doing this stuff,every day! This is what separates form been a Champion and not been champion. awesome stuff written Krista,

  2. I workout sometimes but I stop after the first or second day cuz there isn’t anybody to push me. it feels Like I need to have a coach or a trainer that will be there everyday cuz I try to push my self a lot but I just never achieve my goal… which is to be in shape! I’m tried of my weight being the same all the time. Even when I get in a sport like swimming and teach and felids I never lose weight.. is there anything that u think it will help me lose weight?

  3. This helps me a lot – I love the mantra.
    I started seeing a trainer to help jumpstart me to get back in shape after a bad injury, and him saying, ‘you’re an athlete, I can tell by the way you physically carry yourself around the gym’ was everything. Make hard work and athleticism part of your self identity, and you’ll live up to it – even if you’re faking it until you do!

  4. I’m training for the Navy diving program and this is exactly what they’ve been teaching us except for the Mantra. I’m definitely going to use this during my CrossFit workouts. We literally sweat pools under our feet. our shoes and socks are soaked and every part of my body is on fire after those workouts and I need something to give me through the quitting mentality.

  5. I like counting even if I don’t care about the count. It can be a way to gauge time so you realize progress. Or, if you do care about the count, it helps me to know I’m half way done or three quarters of the way there with some simple math. You can gauge distance by counting too. It helps me to get out of the pain of the moment by taking my brain off it for a little while. Sometimes I just count the rhythms to distract myself and my count rolls back and is meaningless.

  6. I am 40 years old and severely overweight. I did my very first workout today after joining a gym near me. And let me tell you, QUIT was the word at the tip of my tongue!! I am in pain. My legs feel like sand bags. My arms feel like jelly and I feel like I just want to sleep for the next five years!! I have no one to support me in this journey and I decided to do this because I have devoted my entire life to everyone else and now it is time for me!! I WILL use these tips tomorrow and everyday to come. Thank you for the pointers. Lord knows I can use all I can get.


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