An Overview on Applying Mental Toughness Training to Your Life (Part 2)

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(In part one of this series of applying mental toughness training to your personal life, I reposted in a blog I wrote about a year ago. It is an overall summary on how you can to transfer the four mental strategies that you use to battle the WODs at the gym to when you face obstacles in your personal life. For the next couple of months, applying this mental toughness training to improving your overall quality of life will be the major focus of Get ready to kick ass in the gym and when you leave the gym).

Strategy #2 – You Must Strengthen Your Connection with Your Will

Your will is what imposes your thoughts and desire into action.  Having a strong will is the trademark of those who are mentally tough. Most of you probably have a strong will, but are very inconsistent in activating it. It’s too elusive and not concrete enough to use at your disposal at any time. Like any other skill, the more you use it, the better you get at. So the more time you invest training your will in your personal life, the more tangible it will be to you.

To do this, you got to get used to putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. I’m talking about those scenarios that you used to routinely dodge before you began this mental toughness program. Get out of our comfort zone. It doesn’t always have to be something drastic, but even those mundane situations like paying a bill that you have been putting off or working on your new job application that you should have done last week will help you improve your ability on activating your will. By putting your will into daily practice, you are training your will to be courageous instead of cowardly running away from your problems.

So the challenge for you in your daily life is to train yourself to be focused yet patient. With the workouts, there is a usually a time limit for you to finish the WOD. This time frame forces you to respond with urgency. In life, there is no literal clock ticking in the background. In the past, when a bad situation got worse, you probably quit and caved in. But, with this training your will is going to be harder to be killed. Way harder. Instead of quitting, the training will teach and prove to you that your will is resilient. Your will has the ability to handle levels of frustrations that you never knew you could handle.  Now instead of surrendering to your foes, you want to extend the battle.  With all your current personal challenges that continue to elude you, you now want to lengthen the time frame of the fight.

A powerful will was what you need when the world knocks you down. You want to find your will when things seem most hopeless. Having the ability to go from the extreme of a low point to a rush of power is a sign of an indomitable will. Most people don’t lack strength, they lack a strong will. Having a relentless will is how battles are won in the playing field, business world, war zones, cancer wards, anywhere you must withstand extreme levels of frustration and disappointments. It is the hidden capacity of mental strength that we all have if we don’t give up.

Strategy #3 – Optimizing Positive Self-Talk

For some of you permanent cynics out there, getting you to have a positive outlook for 30 minutes during a WOD may seem like an eternity to you. However, this short amount of time is reasonable even those with the most negative outlooks. The challenge then is to continue this positive mindset and apply the skill of positive self-talk to your daily life. The thought of being in positive state of mind for 24/7 may be so far-fetched that it may seem impossible especially to those who live in the gloom cave. Nor is it totally realistic to believe that one can go from being negative to being completely positive. One can never be one hundred percent positive as there will always be some doubt in the back of your head. This training is not about eliminating all doubt, but working through the negativity before it over comes you.  Mental toughness is always about the effort.

As you develop of a positive mindset, you will notice how much you have changed especially when you first encounter a new adversity. The potential problem will still get you down, but instead of accepting defeat, you will begin to search for possibilities to get you out the mess. How you view an adversity before it blows up completely is crucial to how you approach it. By remaining positive, even if a little, can help you dissect the problem in a more realistic and attainable matter. Having a positive mindset just raises your energy level while heavy self-complaining puts you in a constant state of tiredness. Focusing on the negative aspects is just so draining, it wears you out. A good technique you can do right now is to change negative statements to positive empowering questions. For example, instead of saying negative comment like “I can’t stay on this diet” change it into a positive question like “What healthy foods can I eat today?” Another example of this technique can be “I hate my job” can be change to something uplifting like “What three things I can do today at my job to make it more enjoyable?” This technique is quite effective in not only getting positive thoughts but also desirable actions.

(To be continued)

Today’s strength day WOD –

Work on establishing a two rep max for the following compound movements –


Dumbbell or barbell bench press

Front squat

Strict military press

When we spend years of doing single body part training with light weights or cables, we tend to forget the number rule for building a more muscular body. The concept of improving strength will lead to building of muscles seem to be forgotten in today’s high tech world of commercial gyms. Before the 1970’s, the focus on strength gains using full-body protocols was how the majority of athletes and bodybuilders trained. Back then I would say people were a lot of tougher than they are now. From my observation as an educator with the primary grades, we are raising the future generations to becoming a bunch soft wussies. I hate to tell you, but most of you probably fall in this group as well.

So let’s old school with this strength WOD to build power and relentless mindset. Let’s go back in time when things were much harder to do in the gym because you only had a barbell and not a bunch of fancy machines which your grandmother could figure out how to do.

Many of my readers ask me if you use the same mental strategies for the strength WODs as for the metabolic ones. Yes, you do. You will use the same 4 mental strategies for the high intensity WODs, strength days and in the upcoming months learn to use them when facing demons in your personal life as well. The goal of is for you to be unstoppable not only in the gym, but when you get home and face real life adversities.

In the met-con WODs, it is easy to see how you may need an extra push to finish them, especially when you are having a difficult time breathing. With the strength WOD, you need that extra push as well, particularly when you are working with heavier weights that push you out of your comfort level. If you don’t feel like you need that extra motivation, it probably means you are not going heavy enough. If you are approaching your last set of deadlifting and you don’t feel a need to be aggressive or have to refer back to your needs and purpose, that’s a sign that you are not challenging yourself. If you are about to do your last heavy front squat and there isn’t a rush of negativity infesting your mind, that probably means you using too light of weights.

So just like how you push yourself past the red line with the conditioning WODs, really force yourself to use more resistance on these strength training days. It doesn’t mean you have to pack on hundreds of pounds on every set. An extra five more pounds is sufficient. You may not be able to do it all the time, but aim to do it today while establishing what your 2 reps max today. In the upcoming weeks, you will go for new PR’s with the same compound movements.

When you use the same mental strategies as you do in the conditioning WODs, you will surprise yourself with how much strength you have been hiding inside of you.

Now go get uncomfortable and lift some serious weights.

Scaled back version of this WOD

  1. If you wish not go for new PR’s today, do 5 sets of 5 reps.

Acceptable alternatives

  1. You can use dumbbells or a bar for the strict presses.

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