How to Push Through Pain

How to Push Through Pain


Imagine this: you’re on the last round of a five-round, 15-thruster-per-round workout, and you can barely hang on. It probably doesn’t take much imagination. You get through the first five thrusters, and you’re counting inside your head as you somehow get through the next five. Finally, gasping for breath, you count down backwards from five to get through the last few.  The bar hits the floor and you collapse in a heap. We’ve all been there. When we’re able to push through the pain using mental tactics, we can make gains in performance, get more out of our workout, and create a more potent stimulus.


No surprise -- there is research out there that supports the best way(s) to push through pain.  A recent study identified the top three techniques that are the most effective in enabling us to push through pain. The study measured brain wave output and tracked Alpha-Theta brain wave stimulation, which is associated with focus, productivity, and “flow state” (being fully energized, fully involved, and completely enjoying the process of an activity).  In other words, certain “mental games” have a real impact on our brain and our ability to fight through and ignore pain.


In no particular order, the top three techniques:


·      Listening to music at 180 bmp (beats per minute) stimulates the Alpha Theta brain waves associated with focus, productivity, and flow state. An app called beaTunes // enables a user to see the bmp in any song, so any of us can see which music might inspire or motivate us during a tough workout. When it comes to music, we can’t please all the people all the time, but we can play music that is most beneficial for everyone.


·      The mental games that we play when we are in the throws of the final rounds or the last 200 meters of a workout are proven to be effective. What works particularly well is counting techniques. Counting down reps or time intervals backwards is a way to distract ourselves from the pain or strain we feel during the tough parts of a workout. The distraction allows us to “bypass” the pain.


·      I hesitate to list this one, but I have to be true to the study results. Believe it or not, swearing and profanity helps push through pain. You fu@#ing got that right! The use of swear words helps buffer pain and allows people to tolerate more reps, greater loads, and faster running for longer periods of time. Although we don’t promote this type of language in the gym, we do recommend that you save this one for when you really need it. Then let it fly and liberate yourself!


This week in the gym, we will be focusing on ladder work as part of the mental games we use to deal with pain. Ladders are a great way to watch performance increase and mental fatigue subside. Working up the ladder is challenging, but, on the way down, we get the breathing room and the ability to see the end as downhill. Each day is a different ladder style and on Saturday and Sunday we will run a 2 part workout. We will climb up the ladder on Saturday and down the ladder on Sunday.  For those of you wondering what ladder work is, the best example I can think of is a burpee ladder. 10-20-30-20-10 x Reps of burpees for time!