Dominate The Competition

How To Increase Pain Tolerance For Fighting

Elite Striking Gear is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.
Written By: Richard Magallanes
Last Updated: July 10, 2023

Imagine stepping into the ring ready for a fight that demands every ounce of your physical and mental strength.

But what makes some fighters able to withstand more pain than others? Is it their training, their mindset, or something else entirely?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of pain tolerance for fighting, how it varies among individuals, and strategies on how to increase pain tolerance in fighting.

By understanding these concepts and applying them to your training regimen, you can unlock your full potential and push beyond your perceived limits, transforming you into a formidable fighter.

Key takeaways

  • Genetics, gender and personal experiences can influence pain tolerance.
  • Physical approaches to increasing pain tolerance include conditioning the mind and body through physical training, pushing past perceived limits, practicing gradual exposure to discomfort and proper nutrition/hydration.
  • Psychological techniques such as mental toughness, meditation & visualization can be used in conjunction with physical training for increased resilience against pain.

Why some people have a higher pain tolerance than others

Pain tolerance is defined as the maximum amount of pain a person can endure, while pain threshold refers to the point at which a sensation becomes painful.

Genetics, gender, and personal experiences have been identified as major contributors to pain tolerance and sensitivity.

For example, some people may have a genetic predisposition to a lower pain threshold, making them more sensitive to even minimal pressure.

On the other hand, those with a higher pain tolerance may have a genetic advantage that enables them to better tolerate physical pain.

People regularly exposed to pain, such as athletes or individuals with chronic pain, may develop coping strategies for managing pain, thereby increasing their pain tolerance.

This highlights the importance of understanding and addressing the factors that influence pain perception, as they can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to tolerate pain and perform under pressure.

3 safe ways to test and increase your pain tolerance for fighting

To improve your pain tolerance for fighting, it’s essential to explore safe and effective methods that specifically target this aspect of your performance.

By incorporating these techniques into your training regimen, you’ll gradually increase your pain tolerance and become a more resilient and formidable fighter.

1. Sparring

Sparring is a common practice in martial arts that can help increase pain tolerance by exposing fighters to physical contact and painful situations, allowing them to become more accustomed to pain.

To use sparring effectively for increasing pain tolerance, it’s crucial to:

  • Engage in controlled environments with proper safety equipment and techniques
  • Start with light contact and gradually increase the intensity
  • Avoid extreme temperatures that could cause harm

Focusing on proper technique, wearing protective equipment, and systematically increasing the intensity of training sessions are essential aspects of sparring that can enhance pain tolerance.

Additionally, allowing time for rest and recovery between sparring sessions can prevent issues like joint ache and throbbing headaches, ensuring that you continue to progress and improve your pain tolerance over time.

2. Ab Conditioning

Strengthening the core muscles through ab conditioning exercises can increase your tolerance to body shots and enhance overall pain tolerance, even when only minimal pressure is applied.

Some effective abdominal exercises for improving pain tolerance include:

  • Planks
  • Side planks
  • Ab wheel rollouts
  • Full-body lifts
  • Torso-twists
  • Squats
  • Bird-dog
  • Modified curl-up

These exercises not only improve your pain tolerance, but also contribute to a stronger and more resilient physique.

Reinforcing the deep back and abdominal muscles can also assist with spinal stabilization and pain tolerance by providing additional support to the spine and reducing the risk of injury.

By incorporating ab conditioning exercises into your regular training routine, you’ll be better equipped to handle the physical demands of fighting and increase your pain tolerance in the process.

3. Endurance Training

Endurance training, which includes running, cycling, swimming, and other aerobic exercises, as well as strength training like weightlifting and bodyweight exercises, has been shown to improve pain tolerance.

Regular physical activity not only enhances pain tolerance, but also contributes to better overall physical fitness, which is crucial for fighters.

Setting attainable goals, listening to your body’s signals, and diversifying your workouts are essential aspects of endurance training.

Additionally, staying hydrated and ensuring adequate rest and recovery can prevent injuries and fatigue, allowing you to push past your perceived limits and increase your pain tolerance effectively.

Psychological approaches to increasing pain tolerance

In addition to physical training, psychological techniques can also play a significant role in enhancing pain tolerance.

Mental toughness, meditation, and visualization are powerful tools that can help you manage pain and push through adversity, providing a form of pain relief.

By developing these skills, you’ll be better prepared to face the challenges of fighting and increase your pain tolerance in the process.

These techniques can be used in combination with physical training to maximize the benefits of both.

Mental toughness

Mental toughness is a personality trait that denotes one’s ability to consistently perform under pressure and stress.

It is closely associated with traits such as:

  • Resilience
  • Commitment
  • Challenge
  • Confidence

In the context of fighting, mental toughness helps block out distractions, bounce back from difficulties, persist, and cultivate mental strength.

To develop mental fortitude, you can employ the following techniques:

  • Visualization: Imagine yourself overcoming challenges and achieving your goals.
  • Meditation: Practice mindfulness and focus to strengthen your mental resilience.
  • Gradual exposure to discomfort: Push yourself outside of your comfort zone in small increments to build resilience.
  • Conditioning your mind and body: Train regularly and challenge yourself physically to surpass your perceived boundaries.

By cultivating mental toughness, you’ll be better equipped to cope with pain and adversity during fights, ultimately increasing your pain tolerance.


Meditation is a practice that involves focusing on one’s breath and being mindful of one’s thoughts, with the aim of cultivating greater awareness, self-compassion, and connection with the present moment.

It can help:

  • Increase pain tolerance by encouraging relaxation and mental clarity
  • Allow us to become more cognizant of our thoughts and emotions
  • Better regulate our reactions to pain

Additionally, meditation helps us become more mindful of our body and its sensations, thus permitting us to better tolerate pain.

To practice meditation, follow these steps:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place.
  2. Set a timer for the duration of the practice.
  3. Concentrate on your breath.
  4. Be aware of your thoughts and emotions.

By incorporating meditation into your daily routine, you’ll not only enhance your pain tolerance, but also experience numerous other physical and mental benefits.


Visualization is the process of forming mental visual images or scenarios in one’s mind.

It can be utilized in various disciplines, such as spirituality, psychology, and sports performance.

Visualization can be employed to reduce pain by creating vivid mental images.

For instance, you can picture pain as a red, pulsating ball and then diminish it to a cool shade of blue, or imagine being in a warm bath and relaxing.

Utilize visualization and mental strength to increase pain tolerance - by focusing on something other than the pain, and strengthening your mental state, you will be able to endure difficult situations.

By practicing visualization, you’ll be better prepared to manage pain during fights and increase your pain tolerance.

Physical approaches to increasing pain tolerance

Physical strategies to increase pain tolerance are important, as they can empower the mind and body to exceed its limits.

This can aid in increasing pain tolerance and reducing pain perception.

Why physical training is the best way to increase pain tolerance

Physical training can be beneficial in increasing pain tolerance by strengthening the body and mind, improving physical and mental endurance, and increasing the body’s capacity to cope with pain.

For example, aerobic exercise has been observed to enhance pain tolerance and diminish pain perception.

Incorporating various types of physical training, such as strength training, aerobic exercise, and stretching, into your routine can not only improve your pain tolerance, but also contribute to a stronger and more resilient physique.

By consistently engaging in physical training, you’ll be better equipped to handle the physical demands of fighting and increase your pain tolerance.

Condition the mind and body to push past it’s perceived limits

Training the mind and body to push past perceived limits is an essential aspect of increasing pain tolerance.

By constantly putting yourself in high intensity workouts and challenging physical activities, you’re essentially conditioning your body to withstand and adapt to stress and discomfort, and eventually, to increase your pain threshold.

Here are some methods to condition your body:

  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This regimen includes bursts of intense exercise followed by short recovery periods. It can aid in building endurance and mental toughness.
  2. Progressive Overload Training: This training philosophy encourages gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training. It enhances strength and endurance.
  3. Endurance Training: This form of training aims to improve stamina and endurance, both of which are crucial for improving pain tolerance.
  4. Cold Exposure: Regular exposure to cold can help condition your body to withstand discomfort, ultimately increasing your pain tolerance.
  5. Yoga: This discipline not only strengthens the body, helps with mobility and flexibility, but it also promotes mindfulness, mental clarity, and focus - all of which contribute to increased pain tolerance.

By combining these training methods with the previously discussed psychological techniques, you'll be able to significantly enhance your pain tolerance and resilience, ensuring you're always ready for challenging situations in the ring or in life.

Nutrition also plays a role in conditioning the mind and body.

Consumption of certain foods can increase pain tolerance, and dehydration can have a detrimental effect on pain tolerance.

By incorporating a balanced diet and staying hydrated, you’ll further improve your pain tolerance and overall performance.

Not only will you feel better, you will build a body that is capable of enduring strenuous activities and recovering swiftly from exertion.

Practice gradual exposure to pain

By practicing increasing your pain tolerance through physical challenges, you will be able to improve your overall pain tolerance.

Gradual exposure to pain aids in the conditioning of your mind and body to better handle discomfort.

It is the process of slowly intensifying the physical demands of your workout or training sessions, thereby pushing your threshold and improving your ability to tolerate pain. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with exercises that cause discomfort but are manageable.
  2. Gradually increase the intensity or duration of these exercises over time.
  3. Stay consistent and keep pushing your body past its comfort zone.
  4. Listen to your body and rest when necessary to avoid injury.
  5. Take note of your progress and celebrate your improvements.

By practicing gradual exposure to pain, not only will you enhance your pain tolerance, but you'll also gain a better understanding of your body and its capacities.

Consistency is the key to successful gradual exposure.

It is essential that this process is taken seriously and not rushed.

Always remember that increasing pain tolerance is a slow process, but the end result is worth the time and effort.

Does nutrition play a role in influencing pain tolerance?

Nutrition can significantly influence pain tolerance, particularly with regard to chronic pain and inflammation.

Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and reducing the intake of foods high in saturated fats and added sugars may be beneficial for increasing pain tolerance.

Foods that can aid pain tolerance

Studies have suggested that consumption of omega-3 fats, which are present in fish, nuts, and seeds, could potentially reduce inflammation and enhance pain tolerance.

Moreover, limiting the intake of foods high in saturated fats and additional sugars may be advantageous.

A plant-based diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, has also been found to be beneficial in increasing pain tolerance.

In addition to omega-3 fats, foods containing magnesium and those with anti-inflammatory properties, such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Can also aid in increasing pain tolerance.

By incorporating these nutrient-dense foods into your diet, you’ll not only enhance your pain tolerance, but also contribute to a healthier and more resilient body.

The effects of dehydration on pain tolerance

Dehydration can result in decreased pain tolerance, as it may bring about fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.

Maintaining proper hydration is essential for a healthy body and mind, and can help to enhance pain tolerance.

Moreover, proper hydration assists in keeping the body functioning efficiently, thus reducing fatigue and headaches, and improving overall performance.

To ensure adequate hydration, aim to consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, or more if you’re engaging in intense physical activity.

By staying properly hydrated, you’ll not only improve your pain tolerance, but also optimize your overall health and performance as a fighter.

Difference good pain vs. bad pain

Understanding the difference between good pain and bad pain is crucial for fighters.

Good pain is a dull or aching sensation experienced after physical exercise, indicating the strengthening of one’s muscles.

This type of pain signals growth and progress, and is a natural part of the training process.

On the other hand, bad pain is a sharp pain that may manifest during or after physical activity, indicating injury or harm.

This type of pain should not be ignored, as it could lead to serious health issues if left untreated.

By recognizing the difference between good and bad pain, you can take appropriate action to address any potential injuries and continue to progress in your training safely.

Case Studies: Pain tolerance in elite fighters

Pain tolerance in elite fighters is an intriguing topic, as these individuals possess a higher pain tolerance than non-elite fighters due to their physical conditioning and mental fortitude.

Studies have indicated that athletes participating in contact sports rated their pain as less severe and had a higher pain tolerance time than athletes participating in non-contact sports.

Furthermore, elite and high-level athletes have been shown to possess a consistently higher pain tolerance to ischemic and cold pain.

Elite fighters employ a combination of physical and psychological strategies to manage pain during competition, including:

  • Physical conditioning
  • Mental toughness
  • Meditation
  • Visualization
  • Gradual exposure to pain

By understanding and applying these strategies, you can increase your pain tolerance and become a more formidable fighter.

Frequently asked questions

How do you feel less pain when fighting?

To feel less pain when fighting, you can:

  1. Train regularly: Consistent practice can increase your pain tolerance and condition your body to withstand physical strain.
  2. Use proper protective equipment: This can help prevent injuries and minimize the impact of hits.
  3. Develop mental toughness: Techniques such as meditation and visualization can help to manage pain perception and foster resilience.
  4. Practice gradual exposure to pain: Start with manageable exercises and slowly increase their intensity or duration over time. This will push your threshold and improve your pain tolerance.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet: Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and anti-inflammatory properties can aid in increasing pain tolerance.
  6. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration can enhance pain tolerance and overall performance.

How do you build a strong pain tolerance?

Building a strong pain tolerance involves gradually exposing yourself to discomfort, engaging in regular exercise, practicing mindfulness techniques, and seeking professional guidance if necessary.

By gradually pushing your boundaries and training your mind to manage discomfort, you can increase your pain threshold effectively and safely.

What gender has a higher pain tolerance?

Women have consistently shown greater pain sensitivity than men, particularly in terms of pain tolerance. Despite male participants displaying higher tolerance, female participants were more reliable across visits.

What are some psychological techniques to enhance pain tolerance?

Mental toughness, meditation, and visualization are effective techniques to help manage pain and boost your pain tolerance.

How can nutrition influence pain tolerance?

Nutrition plays an important role in pain tolerance, as eating a balanced diet with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and reducing saturated fats and added sugars can improve one’s tolerance to pain.

This can be achieved by eating a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Additionally, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep can also help improve pain tolerance.

Can you train yourself to have higher pain tolerance?

Yes, it is possible to train yourself to have a higher pain tolerance.

Studies indicate that intense workouts can increase pain tolerance regardless of their impact on physical fitness.

Athletes can gradually enhance their ability to endure race pain through targeted training sessions and consistently pushing their limits.

Is pain tolerance mental or physical?

Pain tolerance is determined by a combination of mental and physical factors.

Emotions, such as depression and anxiety, can increase sensitivity to pain, while physical fitness, like athletic training, can improve pain tolerance.

Both mental and physical aspects play a significant role in determining an individual's pain threshold.

The bottom line

Pain tolerance plays a crucial role in fighting performance.

By understanding the factors that contribute to individual differences in pain tolerance and implementing a combination of physical and psychological strategies, you can safely test and increase your pain tolerance for fighting.

By consistently engaging in sparring, ab conditioning, endurance training, mental toughness exercises, meditation, visualization, and maintaining proper nutrition and hydration, you can push past your perceived limits and become a more resilient and formidable fighter.

Remember that the journey to increasing pain tolerance requires dedication, consistency, and a willingness to push through discomfort.

Embrace the challenges, learn from setbacks, and continue to grow and progress in your training.

With determination and perseverance, you’ll unlock your full potential and transform yourself into a formidable fighter.

Want to join A Community of Elite Strikers?

Join our Elite Striking Dojo for free and and share your knowledge with other like-minded fighters.