Most strength athletes know there’s a line in the sand that challenges them in their workouts. Cross it and muscle growth is assured––even geometric. Cross it and you enter the growth threshold. That’s how to build muscle.
Many trainees get frustrated by lack of progress in the gym. As pain closes in, they back down and set the weight back on the rack missing out on the most result producing factor needed to build muscle––high intensity.
That line beckons hard-core strength training athletes. They learn to tough out the muscle pain. In fact, they savor it. Elite strength training athletes and bodybuilders know that the ability to blast through high levels of blood-curdling pain is vital to build muscle.
8 Techniques to Short Circuit Pain
You can propel forward through the muscle burn and exhaustion when you take on the belief that your pain threshold is movable.
1. Rep by Rep
Let’s say your goal is 12 reps and on rep 7 the pain sets in. Just focus on the next rep. Think I can manage one more rep,” once you get that rep do it again… or “the next rep is only 5 seconds that’s easy”. Some people imagine scooping up fish into a net with each rep. Others imagine knocking down soldiers on every rep. They make a game out of their mission to build muscle.
2. Talk Yourself Through
Your words have power–– tap into them. Think short statements like: “Dig in and grow”, “Light Weight”, “Pain heals”, “Intensity for Immensity”, “Go for the Glory”, “Play your game”. Lance Armstrong liked “Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever.” These all work and you can make up your own.
Sound funny doesn’t it? Studies on laughter suggest that it changes the chemical makeup in the body coaxing it to heal. It can also numb pain in a big way. It sends a signal to the brain that suggests that you merely laugh at pain. Whether you laugh out loud or internally, it works amazingly well. It can even speed recovery and improve muscle building.
4. Imagine It
Imagine pitting yourself up against a tough opponent and crushing him; or accepting a Gold medal or lifting the weight you’re about to do for a given number of reps. Hear the cheers of a crowd of fans as you exceed your goal. See yourself raising your arms in victory. Some people imagine themselves as a super hero saving the life of an innocent victim. Others imagine outrunning a tiger in a life or death situation. Remember this technique begins before you start the exercise.
5. Think Deep
While you’re doing your set, focus on your breathing. Hear it. Focus on the weight going up. See it. Focus on the muscle contracting. Feel it. Tune out anything around you. Get lost in the exercise. Hear the beat of your heart. A three-alarm fire won’t keep you from achieving your goal and build more muscle.
6. Remember the Reward
Want bigger arms? See yourself with bigger arms. Want chiseled abs? See yourself with a six pack. Want to build muscle. See slabs of newly built muscle. Hold those images in your mind and as the pain sets in bargain with yourself “one more rep” and those chiseled abs are my reward. Then do it again… “just one more rep again” and so on.
7. Caffeine Dulls Pain
Researchers are finding that caffeine can enhance an athlete’s performance, intensity and keep them pain free and build muscle. There are several studies that indicate the boost from caffeine jacks up training intensity, the primary requirement to build muscle. One study from Australia confirmed that people who were given caffeine before a sprinting workout ran faster than those who weren’t.
How does caffeine fight pain? The University of Illinois discovered that coffee could dull the nerves that send a 911-pain signal to your brain. Researchers took 25 participants and did baseline studies on a bike. The test subjects measured the training intensity and recorded the level of muscle pain. One group was given a dose of caffeine the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee. The other group was given a placebo without caffeine. Those who took the caffeine had a measurable decrease in muscle pain compared to their first exercise session. Those who had the placebo did not show any change.
8. Pure Beta Alanine Buffers Pain
What is Beta Alanine? It’s an amino acid that buffers the burn. The burn is caused by lactic acid. Pure beta alanine lets you train past that pain barrier, train with high intensity and build muscle. More than 20 studies attest to its safety and effectiveness. With beta alanine athletes can perform more reps per set and work harder. That’s what builds muscle––that’s what burns fat.
There you have it. 8 sure-fire ways to help you redefine your limits, train with high intensity and build more muscle.
Remember, this article deals with muscle pain resulting from intense training. If you are experiencing any of the following types of pain, seek medical attention: Sharp sudden foot, shin, hip or joint that worsens as you train, chest pain, extreme sweating, breathlessness, high body temperature, dry skin, severe stomach pain or diarrhea.