We all know about it. The uncomfortable state you feel during your sets. The painful verge you must push through to increase the gains from your workout. You don’t really feel it coming during your first few repetitions, but you know it is imminent as you squeeze out a few more contractions.
When it comes it does so indefinitely. You push yourself to complete that last rep, despite the pain and strong need for reprieve for your muscles. You feel proud for completing that final hard set of shoulder presses, but you wonder if you could have done just one more. You wonder if today you were not at your peak performance, or if it was simply avoidance on your part.
We can’t lie to ourselves, and it is better to admit it takes a certain degree of fortitude to keep it going just a bit longer during that moment of struggle. Easier said than done. Your mind wants you to do that one extra rep, for you know it’s best for your muscles to stimulate strength and growth. Your muscles, however, urge you to cease movement, they are selfish and do not share the same intentions. They could care less about being strengthened, all they care about is being provided with nutrients and doing their function of movement as little as possible.
As humans we move toward pleasure and move away from pain. Naturally, in all our endeavors we look for the path of least resistance. We are inherently lazy. It could not be more ideal to succeed with merely minimal effort. Moreover, like all things in life nothing worth having comes easily.
Muscle growth and development, a quality physique and body, is no different.
What you must do
For you to excel with these goals, it is necessary to raise your pain threshold. The point at which you feel so much pain and discomfort that you are pleaded to quit. Where you attempt to rationalize, by telling yourself you’ve already put in a good effort today. You’ve already done two difficult sets. You’ve already had a few solid workouts this week.
To take your training to the next level, this barrier has to be overcome.
To an extent, you start to raise your pain threshold naturally as you gain more experience with weight training. The other day I led a friend of mine through her first workout. She struggled at persisting through the pain. Her sets came up shorter than the point I believe she could have reached. Of course, this is relative to the individuals level of strength and endurance, which would be low for a beginner. However, she was not yet accustomed or well-versed in the intensity required to push to her true limit and exceed her own edge.
Generally, women are not as resilient in the gym as men. However, I’ve seen and trained with some women that have very high pain thresholds, due to time, experience, and exposure to training.
Evidently it’s something that you develop with time, and is a natural byproduct of training, no matter how unpractical the latter may be.
Furthermore, to improve your potential for gains, development, and reach your realistic and ideal physique in a more efficient manner, you have to raise your pain threshold by your own means. You have to consciously focus your effort, and make this your objective.
Most people train to reach X number of repetitions for Y number of sets, at Z number of weight. While this can be productive, it is best to aim to train at an intensity that overwhelms your level of comfort. Don’t worry about how much weight you are lifting, for now. Rather, focus your efforts on how much you are stressing your muscles past the point of ultimate agony and strain. How much and how long you can withstand the pain. How much you can overcome this harsh state, despite the efforts of your physical body to resist.
Training does not only involve and develop physical strength. The mental aspect to training is so often overlooked and is equally a key component.
Training your legs is a great example of a time where you are most exposed to your pain threshold. Lower body training is hard, as you have likely discovered. With that said, it is an excellent opportunity to meet and challenge your limit of pain.
The more you can endure, the more you can feel it at work; the higher you set your threshold. And with a higher threshold, you are able to train at higher intensities that can involve higher levels of strength and endurance. With that, you have a higher potential for development and training success.
Next time you feel the build-up of pain and the threshold soon coming, welcome it with a hunger to exceed. This is an opportunity to take yourself to new heights from a training perspective and increase your boundary for success.
Read More: How To Grow In Times Of Pain