Don’t let Daniel’s big smile fool you. This dude is one bad ass lifter.
Today I have a guest post from Olympic lifter Daniel Flagg. I met Daniel this summer when he first joined PVCF this summer. Dan is an amazing lifter and has strong interest in mental toughness training. After an intriguing conversation we had about toughness development, I asked Daniel if he would write what we just talked about. Luckily for all of us at mentaltoughnessguy.com, he obliged and wrote this wonderful post.
If any of you would love to write a guest post on your personal experience with mental toughness training or any other relevant topic, please contact me. I encourage all of you to write about your journey. Also, if you come across any videos, articles or books on mental toughness please send them to me. This site is dedicated to all things about toughness. The more variety and different points of view we have on this site, the better it can service all of us as we pursue our inner strength.
Now here’s Daniel:
We encounter fear in all aspects of our lives and how we face that fear determines who we are. Life affords opportunities to face fear, but those opportunities fall outside the realm of our control. Is it possible to prepare for such moments? Can we be ready to face our fear when it seizes us when we least expect it?
Sport gives us the ability to train our response to fear. I will talk about the fear I have faced as a weightlifter, but I feel that all sports allow us to face some kind of fear. Weightlifting is my passion for this reason among many others. To describe what weightlifting means to me would require much more that a single blog post.
In weightlifting, if there is no fear as you approach the bar, you are not going heavy enough. Whether the weight is on your back or being thrown overhead, there is true fear to be found with a barbell as things get heavy. The first time you stand in front of three judges and a crowd, stage fright can occur no matter how much you have prepared for that moment.
You have to look no further than a squat to grasp the fear that weightlifting can bring. The mental battle against panicked fear as a lifter gets under a heavy squat is very real. Unracking a maximal weight makes you feel as though you are going to be crushed. As you descend you push out the alarms telling you that there is no way you will be able to stand back up. In the hole you tell those alarms to go fuck themselves; then you stand. Congrats, you survived, now add 5 pounds next time. Anyone who has done high rep squats (20 rep breathing squats anyone?) knows that you feel true fear at rep 15, legs shaking, wondering how you can still stand let alone complete 5 more! But if you push through that fear you discover something amazing; you are capable of much more than you could initially believe.
In these experiences are the true beauty of sport and weightlifting. We are able to face primal fear and test our response. Do we give up and leave the weight on the rack for another day? Do we push harder and smash through the barriers to our progress? This controlled environment in which we can do this is priceless for success when life throws you for a loop.
Do you feel fear when you train?
Daniel’s WOD –
20 Minute every minute on the minute
1 Clean and Jerk
Starting @ 80% of 1RM
Add weight as long as form is maintained, no misses. When you are done, work on doing single sets till you reach a new PR with your front squats.
If you don’t have clean and jerks as part of your workout regimen, you can do the following alternative strength WOD –
5 reps for 5 sets
Bent over rows
Let’s go with Daniel’s theme today about conquering fears. If you are doing the alternative strength WOD today, try to progressively add weight on your last two sets. Even if the weight is just a little bit, like 5 pounds or even 2 pounds, keep piling up the load. If you add the weights and it doesn’t make you quiver ever so slightly, then add more. Once you packed on the barbell and you feel somewhat nervous at the sight of so much weight, that’s when you should stop. Today’s drill is about handling fear. I want you to feel a high degree of mental anguish on the final two sets today of each movement. If you are not out of your mental comfort zone today, you are not taking up Danny’s challenge today.
During these last couple of very heavy sets, you will hear that negative voice that Daniel talked about. It will come up between sets, right before you pick up the weight and during the lift. In fact, it will dominate your thinking pattern to the point that you will become scared as shit of doing the movement. In terms of mental toughness growth, this is a good thing. Like what Daniel said, this is how you will be tested. The battle between your head is the real war. Honestly, picking up heavy shit is easy. We all have the capacity and inner strength to lift heavier loads that we ever could imagine. What is holding us back is this negative voice that tells us we can’t do it and the fear that eventually cripples us. The negative self-talk will be really bad leading up to the set 4 and set 5, but during the lift, you must always take Danny’s advice and tell the fear to go fuck itself.
And when you do, make the fucken lift.
Thanks, Danny for today’s mental toughness challenge and a great piece of writing.
Scaled back version of this WOD –
1. Do 3 reps for 3 sets.
2. Omit the good mornings
Acceptable alternatives –
1. You can use a barbell or dumbbells for the presses.