Tip: Feel Pain, Reach Goals

Pain tolerance is a requirement for mental and physical strength. Welcome it. Here's the deal.

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In order to become otherworldly strong and freakishly huge, you're going to have to be able to endure great amounts of pain. The pain will come in many forms, and not just pain from injury or training, but mental fatigue and even fear of pain as well.

Pain in the gym is routine. You have to endure it on a daily basis because of the strenuous nature of training. Pushing through this pain barrier on a continual basis is mandatory in order to reap the rewards of pushing your body to new limits.

Every day is a battle to lift more weight, perform more reps, and exceed what you did the day before. If you can't tolerate this basic level of required suffering, then you might as well trade in your barbells for knitting needles.

Overcome the Pain of An Injury

Most of us lifters find it easy to push ourselves every day, but the pain of injury – both chronic and acute – is an obstacle that derails many.

As strength athletes, frequent tendonitis, painful elbows, shoulders, lower back pain, and often extreme levels of delayed onset muscle soreness are all just par for the course. If you stop training due to minor irritations like these, rest assured that you'll never reach the levels of strength and size that you desire, or are truly capable of.

Competing in strength sports often results in muscle and tendon ruptures and occasionally even broken bones that may require surgery. Ask any top powerlifter, strongman, or hard training bodybuilder and they'll tell you injuries like these are just part of the game – and if you aspire to be one of the best, then injuries are just a toll you'll have to pay on your road to the top.

Lessons From a Legend

Bill Kazmaier is a legend in the strength world and for good reason. First, he dominated powerlifting and established the all-time total record of 2425 pounds. This was in 1981, well before the advanced supportive gear that's currently available.

Kaz provides us with a great example of this type of mental toughness. In the 1982 World's Strongest Man contest, Kaz was attempting to bend cold-rolled steel bars and suffered a very severe pec tear. So severe was the injury that it resulted in him never benching close to 600 pounds again (he'd been close to 700.)

Of course, at the time it occurred, it was immediately recommended that Kaz go straight to the hospital. Kaz's response was legendary: "I can't do that! There are still four events left!"

Not only did Kaz continue to compete, he dominated, fighting through the pain and discomfort to successfully defend his World's Strongest Man title.

Does this mean you should train through injury? No. Don't be stupid. You're probably not in the middle of a competition that big. But it does mean that there's always room to toughen up.