Increasing Your Pain Tolerance for CrossFit (Part 12)

mean(This is 12th tip on changing your perception of pain for a CrossFit or HITT WOD. I’m about to wrap up this report soon so keep your email coming. BTW – I got lots of responses from readers saying how caffeine really lowers their tolerance to pain. Also, some readers report how sleep improves their pain levels as well. Scientific studies have shows that both caffeine and long nights of shut-eye does indeed raises your perception to pain. You can add this two tips your painkiller list.

Even though I’m a huge proponent of both green tea before WODs and at least 8 hours of sleep every night, I choose not to write about these effective methods. What I wanted to investigate were mental and psychological strategies that can raise you insensitivity to discomfort. I didn’t want to explore non-mental strategies in this series. Maybe in the future, I can do this.

Caffeine is an external stimulant while sleep is a physical need. Both will help you overcome a challenging WOD.

I always have some caffeine before a WOD and if I don’t at least 8 hours of sleep per night, my performance and pain tolerance will drop. I factor in both caffeine and quality sleep in my training regimen and so should you.

Now, back to the mental stuff.)

Tip #13 Make the training meaningful to you. The main problem I see at any commercial gym is the void or empty looks with most gym participants. I can’t read their minds, but most people just look lost. They walk around mindless, thoughtless and without any purpose. The other day, I asked one regular gym rat what he was doing today.

His response was “I don’t know. I’m just going to wing it.”

No wonder this guy never seems to make any progress, as his workouts are as predicable and lackadaisical as his mindset. I would predict his ability to work with pain is just as dismal.

Just watching him go through a set of curls and stopping way short of discomfort proves my point.

His training all seems meaningless.

When you declare mental toughness as your number one priority and with clear intent, the training has new meaning to you. Instead of just going for the pump or working on building up your chest muscles, you strive to build on your fortitude and improve your quality of life. Your training isn’t based on external factors, but internal motivation, the strongest and most sustainable source of motivation.

When you are training to achieve courage over aesthetics, you know you have a lot to lose if your training is lacking intensity or focus. In other words, you can’t afford to be causal. Time is running out on you.

Your fucken life is on the line.

When you have so much at stake with your training, the work becomes more focused and urgent. You take it more serious. There is something more personal and meaningful when you train unlike the rest of the crowd who have no purpose and as the result, they are weak in the gym and with their personal lives as well.

Nothing will raise your tolerance to pain more than making the training significant to your life.

When the training becomes this important to you, you will have the ability to not only deal with the pain from intense muscle burning while working out, but the skills to handle the bullshit from everyday life.

Let’s be clear on this: the ultimate goal of this training is not for you to be a bad ass in the gym, but to be a relentless bad ass outside of the gym.

In order to make this transformation, you must first change your meaning of simply working out for working out sake, but training for a higher purpose.

In other words, this training is about preventing and stopping the disease of mediocrity and cowardice from spreading and destroying your life. Many of you will argue that fear is a life style and not a medical disorder, but I beg to differ. To me, living without high goals because of fear is just as bad as any terminal illness out there. Like cancer, if you don’t stop it and overcome it, living a life of just being average and full of fear will slowly kill you. 

Sadly, most Americans having been living like they are half-dead so long, they are not even aware of this brain-dead state that they are in.

Don’t be be like the rest. Ever. One of my favorite mantras is “Do what others can’t do.” This is site is dedicated to those who are willing to reject mediocrity.

Once you make this commitment to rid yourself of your timid and unfulfilling life, you are making the first step to rise over the ordinary.

By committing and recommitting to this vow before every WOD, you will slowly develop your inner strength and grit to always go no matter how badly you want to quit or give up.

By not giving in is essentially empirical proof that you are developing your tolerance to suffering.

The change must come from you attitude first. You must always go into the WOD with the intent of improving your life, one WOD at a time. Every WOD you finish is relevant to your life. They are not just workouts you are doing, but test of characters that you are bridging upon. If you don’t see the training as having this deep of an impact on your life, you are wasting your time with me.

When your identity is of a weak person, time is not on your side.

The harsh truth is that time is running out on you. You are getting older as the days go by. When you look in the mirror, you cringe because you don’t like what you see. The goals you have set for yourself to reach are slowly slipping away. Instead of becoming better, things are worse as everyday feels like something bad is going to happen to you really soon, like today. Some say it is never too late to begin, but unfortunately, I believe many are so far behind, they’ll never catch up.

If this sounds like you, I would get my ass off the excuse wagon because you ain’t getting any younger.

You must come to the realization that you have wasted a huge part of your life living like a pussy-wimp.

Now, you must immediately take the initiative and make this training a crucial turning point in your life.

It begins with your mindset.

Stop squandering your time at the gym like how must people do.

Go into today’s training with strong and specific intent to improve your well-being. I know the WODs suck and hurt like hell.  I hate doing them just as much as you all. The WODs must be this uncomfortable. But, you can have the skill to mange the suffering by committing to the relevance of the training.

By doing so, you’ll be able to handle loads of physical and emotional stress that you normally wouldn’t be able to. But more importantly, you’ll feel the immediate power of accomplishment from getting over a huge challenge.

This is how you should feel everyday when you make the training more meaningful to yourself.

Now stop wishing and start doing.

Discover the courage inside of you.

(To be continued)

Today’s WOD:

Barbell complex

(Use a weight that you can handle for 5 reps for the hardest movement which will be the strict military press)

8 sets of 5 reps for each movement. Try your best not to rest between each movement

Strict military press

Back squat

Bent over rows

Good mornings

Barbell roll outs (here’s a good tutorial video on how to perform them –

When picking a weight to do this barbell complex, be conservative. You won’t need a lot of weight because this workout is about stimulating your metabolism and busting your mental focus. It is very difficult so don’t worry about going heavy. For some, the 45 pound barbell is more than enough. The general rule is to use the heaviest weight you can handle for the most difficult movement in the complex. For example, in this complex, the most difficult movement is the strict military press. Use a weight you can handle for this movement and not for the back squat.

In order to maximize your progress with this mental toughness program, you need to understand the reasoning behind the concepts. One of the main principals that I followed is based on SEAL toughness development. I wrote about on an earlier post and you can read about it here. If you read it already, review your notes again. Basically, SEAL training and the WODs in this mental toughness training program, are purposely trying to push your body to extreme exhaustion so you can use your mind to guide yourself through the physical task that you are doing. By taking your body out of the equation, you must learn to use your mind as your primary energy source. Most people think their muscles are what provides strength. They do, but they are no comparison to what the mind can do. The body has limits on what it can do, the mind does not. It is limitless in its source of power. I know this may sound like wacky bullshit to a lot of you, but with a few week into this mental toughness program, you will truly believe in it. The goal of this program is to teach you that your thought patterns are your greatest source of strength.

Even with all my years of training, I still have to constantly remind myself of this major mental toughness principal during my preparation (I will go heavily into the preparation process very soon) before I go into the WOD.  If not, I will suffer just for the sake of suffering and that will do very little to mental toughness growth. So for all of you that is first starting out with your mental toughness training, make it a habit to remind yourself that what your are doing is purposely trying to over fatigue the body so that you can get the mind involved. With this barbell complex WOD, your whole body will be mushed very soon in the WOD, so this is excellent lesson for you to teach yourself how to let your mind take over the body. When the barbell complex has your whole body quivering and begging you to drop the weight, your mind must step in and be defiant with aggressive thoughts to shut up the pain and negativity.

This is your goal for today – activate the mind when your body has reached its limit.

If you can achieve this today during the WOD, you will make a huge step in your mental toughness progress. And when you do, it’s going to feel so fucken incredible.

Now go to work.

Scaled back version of this WOD:

1. Do 3 reps for each movement

2. Do only 5 sets total at 5 or three reps for each movement.

3. Omit the barbel roll outs.