Mental Toughness Life Skill #1 – Prepare Yourself to be the Aggressor (Part 5)

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(This is part 5 on this series of how to live an aggressive lifestyle. Most of you are a beast in the gym. You lift heavy iron, refuse to take long breaks and constantly get your name at the top of the CrossFit white board at your local box. However, when you reenter the real world, you don’t bring in this same beast mentality with you. You let people push you around at work, make bad food choices and give up way too easily on pursing your life long dreams. Your CrossFit may help you look better without any clothes on, but training has little effect on improving your overall life. This series on learning to be aggressive in your box and out of it will help you bridge the gap from the physical to your overall quality of life.)

By constantly reminding yourself on why you need to be mentally stronger in life, will only help ground you while you get through the grueling process of this lifelong training. In other words, the stronger you understand what your “why” is, the more suffering you will be able to endure in the WODs and in life. However, the goal of this mental toughness training is not about transforming you into a masochist. It is about teaching you the values of those who don’t quit on themselves when life has a triangle choke hold on your dreams.  Many times success is rewarded to those who have the capacity to hang in the misery just a little bit longer than the others. This “little bit longer” mentality is the heart of how to persevere and the common thread of gold medal athletes, billionaires or those courage POW souls that survived years of unspeakable pain.

It is something you can never assume you automatically have it. You must generate this dogged determination every day. The biggest mistakes many new clients make is that after a couple of personally accomplishments, they think they don’t have to go through the morning ritual of discovering their “why” and needs to becoming mentally tough. The other mistake is that newbies to this training is that expect the morning prep work must put you in altered state of aggressiveness that makes you look like you just took a steroid enema and wants to eat beer bottles with your pastured beacon for breakfast.

If the preparation process gets you really psyched up and all pumped up, so be it.  However, don’t think you have to be in an intense angry mode in order to be aggressive. That’s a huge misconception. Being overly hyped up can lead to a loss of self-control. If that happens, you won’t be able to think straight. Mental toughness is all about your thought process so you can think straight under extreme pressure.

Sometimes, your aggressive preparation can exactly put you in calm and relax state.  This is the quiet confidence that comes along as you progress by consistently defeat the WODs and personal problems that you face.

Whatever state of mind you get into, work with it. Just don’t expect your responses to always be exactly the same. Your emotions will change according to your energy level or other life factors that is going in your life.  If you are close to ending a huge obstacle, you may be more enthusiastic than ever. However, if you are juggling many problems at the same time, you may feel drained and worn out. At times, you don’t want to be too old hyped up and hold back some of your emotion to prevent yourself from being emotionally burn out. The most important aspect of this preparation period is to get your mind focused, calculating and simmering just enough to get your blood flowing. This prep time is just a mental warm-up to help you get ready to battle when the time is right and on your terms.

The significance of this meditative process is to make it an ingrain habit that you do every day. You have spent many years with a weak mindset that nearly ruined your life. In order for you to change, it won’t happen overnight. You won’t get any results, until you change your mindset. This preparation process ensures it. This mental toughness program is about reprogramming your frame of mind so having this daily private ritual will help shape your new thought process.

In a short matter of time, you will begin to perceive your up coming obstacles in a totally different manner.  Once you do, you will see the power and productivity from these daily mental exercises. When you begin to experience constant success, this morning prep work will become a permanent habit for you.

(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.