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Pushing Through Pain to Achieve Results: Understand Why You Need to Embrace Pain written by Kat Millar
Since pain can be an obstacle which stands between you and your transformation, it’s important to talk about how to manage it. There are two types of pain:
1. Your body giving you a signal to stop or slow down because you are overdoing it or doing a movement incorrectly. Typically this occurs in a bone or joint with a feeling that something is definitely not right. This type of pain should be listened to and your actions modified as a result.
2. The type of pain that’s necessary for growth and for best results you need to embrace it and make it your friend which will be discussed in this article.
If you’re doing ten reps of an exercise, it’s not the first six or eight reps that count but the last few really painful ones that are important. These last reps make the most difference to your strength, muscle-growth and ultimately your body shape.
If you look at the microseconds that separate the gold and silver medallists at the Olympics, it’s not necessarily that they have trained for more hours than the others. Often it’s just that they have been determined to win and it’s the little bit of extra ‘pushing through pain’ that sets them apart. However, it is very important to check your fitness level with your GP before attempting these steps.
THREE REASONS TO EMBRACE PAIN:
1. Pain can stand between you and your results
Being unable to embrace pain holds many people back from achieving the results they want. However, pain, or rather fear of pain is only an obstacle if you let it be. Some pain and discomfort is necessary to take your body to the next level. For example, muscles grow when they are placed under resistance. To overcome this type of pain, it helps first to see it as part of the process. If pain becomes part of the process, it will not detract from what you want to achieve in the long-term. Once you can do that it no longer stands between you and your results.
2. Pain can make you stronger – physically and mentally
Avoidance is our natural response to pain but if we don’t make a decision to walk through pain and embrace it then our body will retreat from it. We are programmed to survive and so we naturally want to avoid pain, but it comes with a cost. If we avoid the pain then we are also avoiding the exercise which moves us to where we ultimately want to be. The best thing to do is to embrace it and work through it: you will come out on the other side a fitter version of who went in!
3. Pain increases your tolerance and raises the bar
Pushing through the pain-barrier has a knock-on effect in other areas of your life. It can ‘toughen you up’ so that you can deal with more! If you refuse to shy away from pain, then pushing through will enable you to do more and achieve more than you had first imagined.
HOW TO EMBRACE PAIN IN ORDER TO GET TO THE NEXT LEVEL:
1. Focus on your end goal
The more you focus on how hard something is the more your brain tries to avoid it. Therefore, you need to focus more on the type of person you are, or want to be. This involves asking yourself the question: ‘do I want to be the type of person who pushes through pain or do I want to be the type of person who gives up at the first hurdle?’
Focusing on a goal that you really want to achieve can act like a pain-killer. The more you are focused on the goal that you want to achieve, the less you care about the pain. And the clearer your goal is, the less you feel the pain needed to achieve it.
2. Isolate the pain
Isolating the pain is another technique you can use to embrace it and push through it. To isolate the pain, the main technique is to focus on it, which means thinking about where the pain actually is in your body and breathing through it.
You should decide for yourself your best defence mechanisms. Personally, I avoid looking around the gym and think only about what I need to be doing; I need to focus completely on the task at hand. I often find that I focus better when my eyes are closed and use this technique in a number of exercises. Sometimes I need strong self-talk and sometimes I need to be completely quiet in my mind and simply just think about counting the reps or think about absolutely nothing – just zone out! Sometimes I think about the actions I am doing at that moment e.g. up, down or back and forth.
The key is to know what works for you and to know when distraction is appropriate. For me, cardio needs distraction, but weights do not. When weight training, it is very helpful to focus on isolating in your mind, the muscle that you’re working on.
3. Think small
There is definitely a time and a place to think big. But during painful moments, focusing on smaller tasks within the bigger picture can help you to keep perspective and get the job done. I find focusing on a ‘big picture’ end goal doesn’t often help me much during that actual point of pain. So at that moment, I need to break it down really small and simply keep focused on going until the end of the set or the end of the time.
Most of us do not want the feeling of regret or that we haven’t given it our best. The feelings of regret are often what can drive you to get those final few reps or sets done. It’s a great feeling to know that you haven’t got any more reps left inside of you; that you’ve left everything you had at the gym and achieved every rep that you could. Knowing to the core of your being, how good that feels and having that feeling of pride and self-respect will push you forward.
Decide to be the type of person that goes to your limits; the type of person who doesn’t stop before the ‘failure point’ and who has no regrets. When it comes down to your identity; the essence of who you are right now and who you’re becoming, is often more powerful than a big far-away goal that perhaps your brain can’t grasp in that moment.
Other small actions you can take include watching inspiring YouTube clips, reading your goals regularly, journaling and logging. Also surrounding yourself with others who will help you realise your potential.
Author of this article:
Kat Millar works with people globally to improve their health, confidence and energy. Since 2003, through her coaching, training, online programs and seminars, Kat has helped almost a thousand people to achieve their goals. Kat is an award-winning figure competitor, fitness lecturer and NLP practitioner and has a passion for nutrition and behavioural psychology. Kat offers a range of programs for total body transformation and can be contacted through her website or her Facebook page.