Ponte las pilas is a Spanish-origin idiom that refers to a person’s energy levels. You’ll use the term when telling someone to keep going with what they are doing. It’s a motivating phrase telling the person to overcome their low-energy levels and persist through to their goal.
Other English equivalents maybe “don’t give up,” or “hang in there,” or “you can do it,” etc. Typically, it’s an encouraging phrase.
It also serves as a motivator when you’re asking someone to work harder or put more effort into the task at hand.
No one knows the origin of ponte las pilas or how it spread through the English-speaking community. The phrase has roots in the Spanish-speaking community, and like other Spanish and Italian words, it took on a new meaning when applied to English.
Ponte las pilas started appearing in memes in the early 2000s, and people continue to use it on forums and in gaming chats to tell other teammates or friends to hold on or hang in there.