Mental Toughness Life Skill #2 – Making a Strong Connection with your Will (Part 4)


(This is part 4 is this series on how to apply a strong will in your personal life. In the last installment, I talked about how your life can be negatively altered in a split second. One moment you can feel like you’re on top of the world. Your love life is great, you’re making gains in your career and you finally got some cash stashed away in your saving. However, if you are standing the wrong place at the wrong time, a drunk driver or natural disaster can turn your world upside down without any warning.  When you are close to losing what you love the most, having a iron-clad will is what can get you through your must trying times.

Fate can be quite cruel. Just turn on the nightly news and you are overwhelmed with sad stories about bad things done to very good people. In order to counter-attack these unjustified acts against your life , you must have a will that can crawl, scratch and bite when you are at your lowest and most vulnerable to giving up on life.)

As you begin to apply the skill of applying your will from the WODs to your personal life, you will notice one huge difference. With the workouts, there is a usually a time limit for you to finish the WOD. This time frame forces your will to respond with urgency. In life, there is no literal clock ticking in the background. This isn’t to say the concept of time is not important when facing an array of personal nightmares that keep coming at you. This is the domino effect of bad fortune. Once something terrible happens, it seems that more awful things will follow. I have a friend who recently lost her mother and her job in back to back days.  To add insult to injury, she got a bad case of ammonia which had her bed ridden for days. The bad shit just kept on occurring and she couldn’t stop the bleeding in her life.

Life is very extreme. Very rarely is it in the middle. Sometimes things seem to be going are way, but the majority of our life we can’t seem to explain the constant bad luck that keeps happening to us. I would say most people fall in this category of not being able to get ahead in life.

In the perfect scenario, you want to end the adversity as quickly as possible. However, for real life problems, sometimes circumstances are out of our control. We can’t fix the bad situation immediately because they’re so many factors involved. That I buy and accept. However, the problem most of you have is that you don’t confront the abusive situation because of fear, passivity or a lack of a strategic plan. You run away from the situation, hoping it will go away or that you will win tonight’s Powerball and the 600 million dollars that you have just won will make all the misery go away. Don’t get me wrong, millions of dollars does buy happiness, but miracles like winning the lotto don’t happen to common folks like you and I.

Instead, you avoid confronting the adversity again and again. By doing so, different problems in your life pop up. You deal with theses new adversities in the same manner by doing nothing. So by procrastinating and not dealing directly with the obstacle, you are setting yourself up for the cycle of bad luck to dominate your life. The problem isn’t the misfortunes. This is how life operates. The problem is you and your never ending denial that things will go away on its own.

By dragging your feet, you have allowed the adversities to snow ball and gain negative momentum to the point that they are close to nearly destroying your life. By being a coward and not starting a fight with the villain, you are close to being suffocated and overwhelmed by all your problems. So stop blaming your shitty life on bad luck. It has nothing to do with luck, but everything with how you deal with your adversity.

When this cycle of terrible circumstances begin to take place, it is essential you take a defiant and immediate stance against the adversity. You need to put your foot down at the first sign of being attacked and bring your will to the forefront. I know it is scary and intimating, but with a relentless will you can bring the biggest enemies in your life to its knees.

The biggest threat to your oppressors is not the muscles in your body or the strength from you bench press. What will defeat the most formidable adversaries is a person that never quits, gets back up and is willing to handle more suffering. By refusing to have your spirit broken, is how you break your opponent and eventually defeat them.

This is all predicated on a will that keeps pushing you to strike back.

(To be continued)

Today’s CrossFit WOD


“Fran 3 rounds as fast as you can with the following rep scheme: 21-15-9

1. Thrusters

2. Pull-ups – if you can do kipping pull-ups, go for it. But, if you can’t them, do dead-hang ones instead.

“Fran” is probably the central CrossFit workouts that everybody is measured against. It’s a great benchmark to see how fit you are or better yet, see if how will you can survive a near heart attack. The elite athletes can do “Fran” unbroken without any rest between sets. Although this may be your goal down the road, your immediate goal with “Fran” is just to finish it and walk out the gym in one piece without any medical assistance.

“Fran” is another deceptive girl in the CrossFit world. It’s only three sets and it looks pretty ease, but it’s one of the hardest WODs to finish. The extreme huffing and puffing and muscle burning that “Fran” will inflict on you, will be much more discomfort than you ever experienced. For some, this state of uneasiness will be so severe; you’ll never want to do “Fran” again. I’ve done “Fran” consistently for over 7 years now and I always collapse to the ground when I’m finished. Your family physician may advice you to stay as far away as possible from “Fran”, but in terms of a good mental toughness teacher, this bitch is the best.

Getting through the first set is hard enough with all those thrusters and pull-ups, but the real test is when you start the second set. At this point, your lungs will be so expanded that you wished you had an oxygen tank and the burning sensational in your muscles will be excruciating when you move ever so slightly. The overall physical pain is near unbearable but the mental nightmare of “Fran” is just beginning as your mind will spin out of control with excuses and reasons for you to quit the WOD.

To get through “Fran,” you must have a will that’s stronger than it’s ever been during this training.  Your will can help you gain your composure during your near mental melt down and remind you that the discomfort that you are feeling is more psychological in nature. I’m not saying the agony in your body isn’t real. It is. But, it’s how your mind perceives the severity of the exhaustion that is of utmost importance. It’s all a judgment call on how bad you label the hurting. A common coping method that many rookies in toughness training use is that they tell themselves – “I have felt worse from other WODs and every time, I am able to get through the misery.” By using this comparison method, it will down grade the level of pain that you are feeling and at the same time, use pasts accomplishments to help motivate you to go on. This training will teach you that all discomfort is manageable and can be control through the mental process. You want to overcome the suffering in your head first before you can re-energize your body.

One of the best ways to offset the physical discomfort is to stop focusing on how much your body is hurting. This is putting you in a defensive state of mind. Instead, you must switch your attention to your will. Listen to your will speak to you. Your will should be screaming at you to never, ever give the fuck up. When this message becomes loud and clear, you know you have no choice, but to continue the fight. By redirecting all your attention back to the battle, your mind is totally engaged with only one singular goal – to do whatever it takes to get you to finish. When your mind is on the offense once again, your body will be revitalize with a new level of strength and the pain that you were just feeling, becomes almost an afterthought.

Let your will guide you back to the thrusters and pull-ups to finally put an end to “Fran.” Make a statement to yourself and finish her off as aggressive and as feisty as you can be. When you are done, congratulate yourself. You just made a huge leap in your mental toughness development by finishing off the mother beast of them all. My favorite girl, “Fran.”

Scaled back versions of “Fran” –

1.  Use a Woody band for the assisted pull-ups

2. Horizontal body rows can done be instead of the pull-ups. They look like this –

3. Jumping pull-ups are good too. Here’s what they look like –

4. Rest at least 3 minutes between each set.

5. Alternative rep scheme: 12, 8, 6.

6. Do only 2 sets.

Suitable substitutions for this WOD –

1. You can do military presses instead of the thrusters,

2. The recommend weight for the thrusters is 95 pounds for men and 65 pounds for woman. However, unless you are an experienced CrossFitter, be conservative and go light. Using just the barbell will be more than enough.