Increasing Your Pain Tolerance for CrossFit (Part 7)

cf(This is part 7 on this long series on how manage your perceived pain perception during a CrossFit WOD. I have a couple of more tips and then I will wrap of the series with a conclusion piece. )

Tip #8. Train in a group setting. On my decade plus road to mental toughness, I’ve learned one strong absolute

Never, ever rely on anyone.

I’ve learned if you want something done, you got to do it yourself. This is somewhat cynical view that people will always let you down, especially when you ask them to something hard with you. So in order to overcome this negative view, I made it into a positive outlook, by always relying on myself to get things done

This is why many of the times I train solo. I enjoy the solitude and freedom to explore my mental toughness issues by myself. However, there are those particular WODs that I can’t stand to do by myself like car pushes or heavy PR deadlift days. When I’m training alone with these ultra-challenging WODs, my pain tolerance goes out the window.

So, in some cases, training with a partner or with a group has huge advantages, especially in how working with others effect your threshold to pain. Many scientific studies have found that group settings improve your endurance, strength and tolerance to pain. In fact, some studies found your strength and ability to handle pain increases even if those around you aren’t working out, but just observing you. Another study showed the men worked out harder and elevated their threshold to discomfort if observers were woman, especially attractive chicks.

These white-coat lab studies seem to back up the extreme lure of CrossFit and bootcamp classes. It seems that we push ourselves harder when we are surrounded by others.

Even though I prefer to train alone, this is why I have keep a stock of dependable workout partners that I can call up when I’m facing a upcoming WOD that I dread. Its like having a list of booty calls that I can call in the middle of night when I’m feeling a little lonely.

Mental toughness training is a long journey. The key is being flexible and using your resources when needed. Calling on friends to do the grunt work with you isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, I consider it a very smart tactic. I’ve done “Murph” dozens of time, and I never did it alone and I doubt it if I’ll ever attempted without a group of sadomasochistic friends either.

“Murph” is already one of the roughest WODs in the world and doing it alone, will make the pain only exponentially worse.

So it pays to be intelligent in the training. Don’t burn your bridges with your bad ass CrossFit buddies because someday you may need them.

On a side note, the other day at my shitty commercial gym, I noticed a group of three young men training together. If the science is correct, these dudes would benefit greatly by working out within the “group effect.” But, what caught my attention was that all three dudes were wearing headphones and listening to music the whole time while training. Not once, did I hear any sort of motivation from the mouths of these three dick wads. Nothing. The whole time one idiot would train while the other two other idiots would just stand around looking lost while listening to their music. They were silent the whole time.

Three guys training together should never be this fucken quiet.

Now according to the power of the group effect, these guys may have increased their pain tolerance during the training. However, I beg to differ. I’m going to assume what makes the training with others having such a powerful effect on mitigating pain is due to words of encouragement from those around them. This is the main factor why those CrossFit boxes can push themselves through high intense levels of pain because of the verbal cheering they get from others during the WOD.

So the point is, if you want to up your pain perception during a WOD, get vocally engaged and have your partners do the same. This is how you get the most out of the group of effect when it comes to raising pain tolerance.

If you choice to workout with others, take advantage of it. Put down your smart phone, don’t be a mute, and support your friends. In doing so, they will unconsciously reciprocate by verbally pushing you as well. Positive words go a long way when you’re feeling extremely fatigue or like a big pussy.

For those hellacious WODS, working with others is a very smart strategy to increase your pain tolerance and perform better during the workout.

(To be continued)

Today’s WOD –

Barbell Complex Movement –

5 sets

Do 5 reps for each movement. Try your best not to put the bar down until you are finish with the set.


Overhead squat

Good mornings

Behind the neck presses

Barbell roll outs

Put the bar down and jump rope for a minute

This barbell complex WOD will take a lot of self-discipline on your part.  The time under tension for this WOD is nearly 3 and ½ minute. That’s a lot of time moving a weight and then jumping rope. At some point of the WOD, you will just want to drop the bar, just quit and continue on with your weak self. If the thought of going through this strenuous WOD is too much for you, you may need a wake up call. You may not have the self-discipline or desire to become mentally tougher in your life. If you lack intrinsic motivation, this type of training is definitely not in the cards for you.

So today when the temptations of not going to the gym begins to enter your mind, really visualize yourself continuing living a weak lifestyle. You will use “what if” type of empowering questions to test your self-discipline.

Really see yourself dropping out of this mental toughness program. What would you do with your life instead? Would you go back to your commercial gym and continue to train with no intensity and get no improvement with your body comp? How would you feel about yourself if you remain physically weak? Use your imagination and really see how your body will turn out without this high intensity training.  Will you gain weight? Remain brawny? How do you think you will feel about yourself with a less than desirable body?

Continue to see yourself being weak in other factors of your life. How does being weak affect you at work? Will you continue to let other walk over you at your job? How would you feel about yourself if five years from today, if you are still stuck at this shit job of yours with no improvements? Really see yourself in the future in your current work environment under worse circumstances. How does that make you feel?

What about your lifelong dreams? How does being mentally weak effect your pursuit of your dreams? What will happen if you don’t reach your dreams five years from now because you realize you were too afraid of taking chances and lazy to continue with this mental toughness program? Would your life be any different if you would have stay with this mental toughness program? Would being mentally tougher have gotten your dreams? Really delve into these thoughts and foresee your future. Let any emotions and feelings surface up.

After asking these “what if” type of self-empowering questions, how do you feel now? Do you want to skip your training or are you more motivated than ever to have mental toughness in your life?

If the answer is yes, go get your ass to the gym.

Motivating yourself to go do the work is what self-discipline is all about.

Scaled back version of today’s WOD

1. Do 3 reps for movement for a total of 4 sets.

2. You can run in place or do jumping jacks for 30 seconds instead of jumping rope.

3. Omit the roll-outs.

Acceptable alternatives –

1.You can sprint on the treadmill for one minute or do 10 burpees instead of jumping rope.