Holiday Training (Part 1)

4As you all I know I’m a huge proponent of training on holidays. For example, doing “Murph” on Veteran’s Day is a mainstay of mine. It’s one of my favorite CrossFit holiday WODS. I usually write a blog to motivate you to train right before a national holiday. But, for this Fourth of July I got sidetracked and never even started the article. My apologies, tough people.

I advocate holiday work because it’s the mindset that I want to instill in you which is “do what others don’t do.” On typical national holidays, especially on July 4th, the masses use it as an excuse to be lazy and not to work on any sort of self-improvement. Sure, I believe in rest and having fun and more importantly, spending time with the family. However, you can hang out with love ones after training. You just have to make the effort to get up an hour earlier and budget your time so you can workout before chilling out and watching the fireworks with your circle of friends and family.

In any case, I hope you all worked on you your mental toughness training, strength or conditioning work on this past fourth.

For me on this day, I was feeling kind of lackadaisical. I was tired from my previous WODs and feeling unkind of inspired. Instead of preparing myself and doing my pre-workout mobility work, I decided to catch up on my summer reading by the pool. Some quiet time might do me some good as I have been neglecting my stack of fitness and psychological improvement books that I enthusiastically bought for the summer.

This was about an hour before noon before the expected mid-afternoon parting would take place. Even though it was another gloomy Massachusetts’s day with some light sprinkles, I enjoyed living a life of the average guy while sitting on my lazy ass.

Hey, this wasn’t so bad. Maybe I’ve been too hard on mainstream Americans and was wrong about my commitment to holiday training. Maybe they got it right while I’m just an out dated stick in the mud. As dedicated as I am to my world of extreme fitness and mental discipline, even I wonder sometimes if I am little too uptight and overly serious with my training. Diane tells me this all the time as she considers me a “fitness snob” and that I need to loosen up.

I started to wonder if I should take the whole day off and join the millions of slackers and just do nothing for the day. I don’t remember that last time I took off training during a holiday or on Super Bowl Sunday, an informal and man-made sort of holiday. I always made sure I trained on these special events because the majority did not. Again, it was my defiant attitude to always do the opposite of what everyone else was doing. Let me reiterate, the reason why I have become so rebellious against the mainstream is because for decades I played followed the leader and did what everybody else was doing in the gym and in the kitchen. I followed all the popular heath trends.

All it got me was a fat and dysfunctional body with a timid mind.

When I made the decision ten years ago to change, I sought out alternates to fitness and healthy. That’s when I began to make significant changes with my athletic ability and growth in the mind by learning how not to follow the conventional footsteps of the moral majority. However, it is very possible that I could have so arrogant that I missed out on  learning some valuable lessons from the mainstream. If so, that would have been a terrible mishap on my part. Being close-minded is never a good thing. To learn, one must be open to new experiences and admit their mistakes.  A sign of mental toughness is having the ability to declare your shortcoming because you know you can rectify them and better yourself from the mental blunder.

So, I was leaning on ditching my WOD and maybe even growing with my self-improvement by admiting I have been wrong and being overly earnest. Even worse, I may have been too self-indulgent with myself. If so, I owe billions of people an apology for my condescending attitude towards them.

After about an hour of solitude, the crowd started to stroll in. The noise and screams didn’t bother though. I love seeing moms and dads playing with their kids, splashing water and having fun. However, my pleasant mood changed when a group of guys in their mid-twenties stumbled in the pool area. They were already pretty sauced up and decided to camp out with their ice chest of cheap domesticated beer.

They were in their early twenties, but clearly out of shape and flabby. I don’t mean to be so judgmental about the physical appearance of others, but when they took out their cigarettes and started buffing by me, I had every right to be critical of their lifestyle of being sloppy and unhealthy. More so, they were being extremely disrespectful to me and the children at the pool with their second hand smoke.

They represented everything I detest about the masses. They were sloppy and frail looking and very unlikely able to do anything physically spectacular.

I needed to go train.

(To be continued)

Today’s strength training WOD

5 sets of three reps

Front squats

Dumbbell bench press

Back squats

Military press

Toes to bar (As many reps as you can do per set)

You probably noticed that I dropped the reps to 3 for today’s strength WOD. That means, I want you to progressively add more weight with each per set, even if it’s only 5 more pounds. I want you to try to establish today is you PR max with 3 reps for the compound movements today.

The psychological focus today is how to regain your aggression during a WOD after you lost it. Getting into a state of an aggressive mind set for the beginning of a WOD is pretty straightforward. You do your mental warm-ups and when the WOD begins, you mind is fuming with aggressive thoughts. Simple enough. The problem arises is when the WOD begins to overpower you and fatigue starts to set in. When this happens, you become less aggressive with your thoughts and actions and doubts of your ability to finish the WOD begins to dominate your mind-set. When this happens, you are prone to quitting.

Most newcomers to this high intensity training make the wrong assumption that just because they psyche themselves to become relentless during their preparation time, they will automatically be aggressive throughout the battle. You can never assume that you will be in attack mode. The skill that you are honing in on today is this ability to summons in on your aggressiveness at your will.

The goal of the preparation process is not to elicit aggressive thoughts and behaviors throughout the challenge, but to make it immediately accessible when called up. One of the best way to do this is by constantly referring back to your needs and reasons to become mentally tougher. Unlike the metabolic conditioning WODs, with strength training workouts, you have a distinct resting period in between sets. Some of you will take this resting period too literally and by doing so, you will dissipate a lot of your aggressiveness out of you. This could be especially a problem if you start a conversation with somebody, begin texting or just day dreaming. So stay focus on your task which is – you have to lift some fucken heavy shit really soon.

Instead of zoning out, you should use the time to focus on the lift, especially when the weights start to pile on. Your thoughts should be coaching cues to help you make the lift with correct form mixed in with the occasional reference back to why you need mental toughness in your life. Learn to visualize yourself making the lifts and how the successful lift will get you closer to ending a life of being mentally and physically weak. By tying in the successful lift with mental toughness growth, you just created a greater sense of urgency by putting more meaning in the lift if you make it than just your average last set. By taking risk and putting yourself on the line with the outcome of the heavy lift, you have a lot to lose, but so much more to gain when you make it. This is the attitude that I want you all to seek after.

This is the sort of aggressiveness that is rarely seen in the average, but common for those who aren’t afraid of trying. With the effort comes the toughness.

You will strain today, but you will not be stopped.

Now go pile up some weights and experience it for yourself.

Scaled back versions of today’s WOD –

1. Omit the toes to bar.

2. You can replace the back squats with good mornings.

3. Do only three sets per movement.

Acceptable alternatives –

1. You can use a barbell for the bench press if you wish. And for the presses, you can use either dumbbells or a barbell. Just don’t use a shoulder press machine.