Mental Toughness Life Skill #2 – Making a Strong Connection with your Will (Part 1)


(This part one in this series on how to make strong connection with your will in your personal life. I’m sure many have you have discovered how crucial it is to navigate your will during the WODs. If you have weak will, there is no way you will be able to handle the brutality from the CrossFit, Litvinov and barbell complex workouts. If you have made it through several of the WODs, it’s not because you are a great athlete or physically strong, but because you have a strong will. One of the many purposes of the ruthlessness from the physical training is for you to discover your will. It has gotten you past several high intensity WODs. Now you must learn how to activate the same will when you face your personal adversities.

The goal of this mental toughness training is to train your will to be indiscriminate when facing a formidable foe. It doesn’t matter if you have to go up against a rough CrossFit WOD or a major problem at your job. It makes no difference who or what you are facing. The objective is the same.

You are training your will to kick, push outside and wipe out whatever obstacles that get in the way of you are trying to achieve in life.)

As you will find very early in the physical aspect of this program, your will is the difference maker if you make it through the difficult WODs or if you will quit. The workouts in this mental toughness pogrom are the great equalizer. Getting through the WODs will be depended on your current conditioning level, but don’t think you will have the advantage just because you lift a lot of heavy weights or can run sub par 5k. At many points during the WODs, they will be moments where you will come close to your breaking point and the option to quit will become very seductive. For many of you unfortunately, it will become a reality. The ability to bench press two times your body weight won’t save you. What will pull yourself together is your will to not quit. You can be the worst athlete in the world, but if you have an ironclad will, you have what it takes to become mentally tougher. If I’m in a life or death situation, I’ll take a person with a strong will on my side anytime over those with brawny bodies that display their illusion of strength.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking those that like to flaunt to their lean muscles. But, having muscular physique sometimes mask over a weak mind. However, I still think you can have best of both the physical and cerebral world. A strong mind with a body that is admired by both sexes is what is coveted in this mental toughness program. If this is what you want, you have to hone in the most important intangible in your personal life. Your will.

As we talked about your will in the mental strategies section during the WODs, your will is what imposes your thoughts and desire into action. Most of you probably have a strong will, but are very inconsistent in activating it. It’s too elusive and not concrete enough to use at your disposal at anytime. The approach to this mental toughness program is to make your will more effective and become an acquired skill. With practice and especially practice under stressful situations, you can learn to activate your will at your command. Like any other skill, the more you use it, the better you get at, but more importantly, you get quicker at accessing it. This is particularly important when applying this training to life because adversities in the real world are so unpredictable and seem to come out of nowhere to bring us down.

So the more time you invest training your will, the more concrete your will can be to you.

With the physical training, you’ll discover how powerful your will to leading you triumph over the WODs. A strong and defiant will is what you must posses in order to prevent yourself from every quitting and this is what ever CrossFitter learns right away. What you are doing during the physical aspect of this program is training and increasing your desire to go on when you are feeling the weakest. Having a will that won’t give up is the trademark for those who are mentally tough. It is the major intangibles that navy SEALS, survivors of terminal illness, Olympic medal winners all have.The good news is that most people who are mentally tough weren’t born with this gift. They had to earn it. The bad news is that they all had to go through some pretty awful shit to get there. Only through suffering, can one really hone in and strength their will. If you have been doing the WODs in this program, you know how tough the physical part of this training can be. Your will has been your saving grace. Now you must apply the relentlessness of your will to other aspects of your life.Once you do, your overall quality of life will greatly improve.

I want to remind you of the basic premise of this mental toughness program – everything you do in the gym must translate to your personal life. If you can scrap and fight through a difficult CrossFit workout, you can also battle through any major problem in your life. If you can plow through an ass kicking training session then there is no reason why you can’t take the same mentality and charge through a personal problem that’s your afraid to face up to.

The major problem most people have is that they are a bad ass in the gym, but once they leave the gym, they return to being a major pushover. If this sounds like you, it must stop right now. You are clearly getting only 50% of what you are doing from the gym. So it is no surprise why people don’t respect you since you are only 1/2 a man or 1/2 a woman.

What this mental toughness program will teach you is what Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym, 24 Fitness, Curves and to a certain extent your CrossFit box isn’t doing which is to show you how to transfer the physical training to improvements in your personal life.  In other words, everything you do in the workouts must have a carry over effect to how you live. There is no separation betwee strength training in the gym and strength training in life. It is the same thing. You are training your will so it can’t tell the difference when facing a daunting WOD or chemotherapy. It could care less if you are in the gym or at your job.The objective from a  uncompromising will should be the same – to overcome obstacles that are preventing you from achieving a goal.

Overcome is probably too soft of a word. If your will is relentless, it will not only want to overcome the adversity, but destroy with some major authority .

When your will is this fucken lethal, that’s when you know this mental toughness program is working for you.

(To be continued)

Today’s Litvinov WOD –

6 sets

Deadlift – 6 reps

Push-ups – 15 reps

Heavy dumbbell farmer’s walk (one minute)

Today’s Litvinov variation has heavy farmer’s walk which will be quite a challenge for all you. This combination of deadlifts, push-ups, and farmer’s walk will be a great session on how to teach your will to be on the offense. A good rule for the farmer’s walk is to pick two dumbbells that you would use for a moderately heavy dumbbell bench press. Also, to get the most out the walks, squeeze the handles as hard as you can while walking. The extra tension will stimulate your arms and lats to make the farmer’s walk a whole-body experience.

After the first two compound movements, your upper body should be close to being spent. The first couple of seconds of the walks will seem like nothing, but after the first 30 seconds, you will definitely feel the punishing effects from this WOD.  At this point, you’ll have to impose your will into the WOD because your grip will be close to be giving out. The stronger your will power, the less likely you won’t drop the dumbbells on somebody’s foot. If you can’t hold on, you might as well drop the weights on the meathead that’s doing concentration curls. Maybe the hard pounding might jar some sense into him.

The biggest challenge some of you will have with this WOD is the lack of space when you are doing the walks. If your gym is small or really crowded, you have to be really careful. You don’t want to bump into somebody that’s in your direction nor do you don’t to want to maneuver and zigzag around people either. This is really a pain in the ass especially when your hands are full of sweat and you are barely holding on to the dumbbells. What you want to do instead, is to make people want to get out of your way.

The only way to do this without yelling and screaming “Get out my way!”  like a crazy maniac is to make sure your mind is filled with aggressive thoughts of wanting to run people over if they get in your way of your training. Let me reiterate, I am not advocating physical confrontation or suggesting that you literally run into people. This WOD is only a drill for you to get in touch with the dark side of your will. I am only promoting aggressive thoughts and would never, ever suggest the use of a forceful altercation. That would be mentally stupid and has no place in mental toughness training. I hope I am clear on this point.

So having said this, If you have overly aggressive thoughts and plow straight ahead of your path with sheer determination – your thoughts, grunting and body language will come through.

It won’t take person with ESP to read your mind either. It should be clear to even the most naive person in the gym that you are on a mission and you will not be stopped for anything or anybody.  For me, whenever I do this WOD, I usually am thinking of only one thing –  “You better get the fuck out of my way or I will run your over.” 

You want those around you to not move away from you, but to go run and hide from your fury. This is the aggressive thought process that you must have if you want your will to be lethal and to be intimidating to your competitors.

When your will is driven by your mean streak, the energy will be translated throughout your personal as a force not to be reckon with

Those in the gym will take noticed. If they are smart, they will part the sea for you when you walk towards them. If they don’t, have pity for them as you bulldoze through them. Just be careful not to drop the weights on their head. That would not be a good thing at all.

This overly aggressive attitude is exactly what you need when you do this WOD. Those around you must know what a mistake it would be if they interfered with your training. When you can convey this message though with only your actions, you are on your way to having a will that’s more than powerful.

It’s even on the lethal side.

Scaled back version of this WOD –

1. Do only 4 sets.

2. Instead of 15 push-ups, do only 10 reps.

3. Walk with the dumbbells for 30 seconds.

4. Walk in place with the dumbbells for 30 seconds.

Acceptable alternatives –

1. If you have no room to do the walks, run on the treadmill or jump rope for a minute. Going for a 400m run is also acceptable.