Inspiring words that can take your workout up to the next level—and beyond.

By Priscilla Ward
May 26, 2015

What does it take to push a little harder on the treadmill, knock out a few more reps with your dumbbells, or swim just another lap (or two) in the pool? It's not just about physical prowess or sheer willpower: You often need a little psychological push, too.

According to a recent review in the journal Sports Medicine, positive self-talk, visualization, and goal-setting can even help boost your athletic performance, possibly allowing you to work harder for longer and reach your fitness goals at last. If "positive self-talk" sounds a little cheesy, know that some of the most badass athletes in the world rely on personal mantras to get through grueling training sessions and the pressure of competition. Keep these wise words in mind the next time you need a little extra motivation to get through spin class.

Allyson Felix

At 29, this Santa Clarita, California native is a four-time track and field Olympic gold medalist. (P.S. She has two silver medals, too!)

Diana Nyad

In 2011, after five attempts, Nyad, 64, became the first confirmed person to swim from Cuba to Florida—a distance spanning 110 miles.

Serena Williams

The 33-year-old is the younger Williams sister—and the world’s number-one women’s tennis player.