Mental Toughness and Supplements (Part 1)

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(I”m reposting this series because I got bombarded with emails asking my opinion about supplements to increase endurance, power and strength. Half of the shit I was asked about, I never even heard before or could even pronounce. Alpha-somthing-beta-something-gamma. There’s so much junk out there on the market, it’s difficult to decipher what works or what is bullshit.

If you truly want the secret stuff that will get you to do incredible things, save your money. You already have it. It’s the power of the mind.

Read on.)

I used to waste hundreds of dollars per month on this stuff.

Last week I did a real rough WOD with a good friend of mine. It was AMRAP that consisted of heavy deadlifts and box jumps so you knew the WOD was no joke. It wasn’t even halfway during the workout, when we were both on our back, drenched in sweat, wondering how we were going to get through this bitch of a workout. I encouraged him to get up and do another round with me. As he struggled to get stand up, he looked at me and said “Thank god, I took my B-12 vitamins before this workout. I don’t think I can it make it through this session without them.” He totally believed this to be true.

I went on with the WOD, but my mind with fuming with thoughts and ideas at what my friend just said to me.It bothered me big time because my friend is one tough SOB, but I know he lacks confidence in himself. Here is an instance where he could acknowledge his will and mind for pushing him through this challenge, but he is giving all the credit to a pill that has nothing to do with anything.

I didn’t want to say anything because I had no right to ruin this obvious placebo effect. If this is what he believes and its helping him get through the suffering then so be it. I had no business trying to convince him otherwise. I had no right at all. If I open my big mouth, I might interfere with his rhythm and make me the situation worse for him. That’s the last thing I want to do.

I been in this CrossFit world for some time now and I’ve seen some crazy shit on what people would do before a WOD to make sure they will finish. They eat some weird combination of food, practice superstitious rituals and I hope I don’t offend anyone, they pray to the gods for strength (Yes, I am very aware that Rich Froning is a Christian. Thank you, very much). They rely on external sources other than themselves. Instead, they should on the strongest and most potent source of power – their mind.

I know I couldn’t help my friend, but I can make a statement to myself. I was more than motivated to show myself the power of the mind. My thought process will not only get through this WOD, but energized me with a supply of stamina that will help me bulldoze through rest of the round. I was on fire. I did the rest of the round unbroken.

As I caught my breath at the end of the set, I turn towards my friend and watch him continue to struggle. He was moving a slow pace, but he was able to stay in the fight and gutted out the remainder of the set with such pure determination that I found admirable. After this round, he laid on his back looking so exhausted that I really doubt that he could continue with almost 5 minutes left in the WOD.

“I’m done. No more,” he said to me looking more like a beat up boxer than a worn out CrossFitter.

It was right then I felt my responsibility as his CrossFit partner to slap some sense into him. I just couldn’t help myself, but I had to intervene and breath some new life into him.

“You are getting through this WOD because you are tough son of bitch! It has absolutely nothing to do with the B-12 vitamins!” I screamed at him.

He was dazed, but not totally out of it as he was listening to me intently.

“It has nothing to do with the vitamins! Fuck the vitamins! What’s going to get you through this WOD is you!” as I continued to yell at him. “Your mind will push you forward and not some lousy vitamins!”

Whatever I said, must have struck a chord in him. He was still breathing heavily, but managed to get up to one knee. I could see the determination coming back in his eyes.

(To be continued)

Today’s CrossFit AMRAP WOD –

Twenty minutes as many rounds as you can

400 meter run

Push-ups (as many as you can just short of failure)

Make sure you have a notepad to keep a tab on the amount of push-ups you did. Add up the total amount of push-ups for your final score.

I don’t care what you ate the night before or how many bowls of vitamins you had this morning. Unless you had mega shots of steroids before today’s WOD, the only thing that will push you through this physical challenge is your mindset. You go into this WOD, not relying on anything, but your true source of power – your thoughts.

Your thoughts is where you real strength is. If you are new to mental toughness training, you probably think your muscles is what drives power. Your muscles are your primary movers, but it is your thought process is what pushes the engine. The whole point of this training is to teach you to depend on your mind and nobody or nothing else to help you overcome adversity. Cutting yourself off from outside factors is the first phase of this mental toughness training. The sooner you depend on yourself and take on the responsibility of putting the mental aspects over the physical, you will begin to tap into this unlimited amount of stamina and power that your mind can generate.

Like navy SEAL candidates, they are constantly push to the point of extreme exhaustion so their bodies are so worn out, they could barely stand up. The bootcamp drill sergeants do this not because they are sadistic bastards, but they purposely want to exhaust the SEAL candidates’ physical energy level so they can begin to learn how to tap into their mental reservoirs. Not all SEAL candidates have to this capability to extract strength from their thought process. If do don’t, they have no choice but to give up their dream of being part of the world’s most elite fighting force.

But, for those few that somehow through desperation learn to rely on the mind to overcome pain, suffering and unspeakable exhaustion. They are able to not only get past the hellacious hazing experience, but to flourish and become stronger because of it.

It all begins it the mind.

This is the frame of mind you must have today before you attack today’s WOD. So screw taking extra vitamins, more doses of BCAA or N.O. X-plode, or whatever that meathead is trying to push on you at your local GNC. It’s all bullshit.

The only thing you need, you can’t buy.

It’s all within you.

Scale back version of this WOD –

1. Walk the 400 meter.

2. Run or walk 200 meter instead.

3. Do the push-ups from your knees.

Acceptable alternatives –

1. Run in place or do jumping jacks for 1 minute.

2. If you have an injury and can’t do any pushing