Every time you go to the gym, there’s a question staring you in the face. When things start to get tough, are you going to fight through the pain and finish? Or are you, like so many people stuck in neutral at the gym and in their everyday lives, going to be satisfied with merely finding the edge of that pain before backing off?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, that choice has been there every time. And as a champion strongman, I know a thing or two about pain. The most valuable thing I can teach you about it is this: The only way to train through pain is to constantly remind yourself of your goal. Make a picture of it in your mind and let it drown out everything else. If that goal is important enough, then you’ll make it through.

Look, sacrifice is required in order to be successful in anything. That’s a universal truth as far as I’m concerned. To have a successful career, you’re going to have to sacrifice time to learn your craft. To be successful in the gym, you not only have to sacrifice time, but your own comfort as well. Pain is a part of the deal if you’re training with any degree of seriousness, and there’s just no way around it.

Yeah, I know, you’re probably not training to become an elite strongman. But don’t use that as an excuse to ignore this advice. Strongmen, powerlifters, bodybuilders and pro athletes‚ for whatever their differences, injury and pain are common ground among these men. And isn’t pain and the occasional injury a far better route than the chronic disappointment of never really getting anywhere?

You don’t have to fade into the shadows and run in place with everyone else in your gym. It’s the harder route, for sure, but after time it will become routine. You’ll learn to love the pain. Learning to love your results? That’s the easy part.

Muscle & Fitness columnist Derek Poundstone is a two-time Arnold Strongman Classic champion, a Naugatuck, CT, police officer and the host of Poundstone Power Radio, which airs live on Sirius/XM. Ask him a question through his site, www.poundstonepower.com