Mental Toughness Strategy #1 for the Workouts – “Prepare Yourself to be Aggressive” (Part 1)

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In this previous article, I wrote about the 4 mental strategies that you will need to help you overcome the challenging workouts in this mental toughness system. Also, in this post, I wrote about how you must use the same 4 mental strategies to deal with your personal obstacles. My goal is to teach you to be mentally tough in the gym and in your personal life. You are training your mind not to discriminate and to treat all your adversities the same. So it doesn’t matter if you are facing a tough WOD, dealing with being laid-off from your job or told some devastating health news from your doctor, your goal remains the same – to wipe out the obstacle that stands in the way of your well-being.

If you want to become mentally tough, you must learn to use this 4 psychological strategies often in your life. In past articles, I briefly describe how to use preparation to become aggressive, making a strong connection with your will, utilizing positive self-coaching and mantras, but in this post and upcoming ones, I will discuss in greater depth how to incorporate these 4 strategies when facing your WODs and personal problems.

Today, I would love to discuss preparation skills, specifically before your workouts. You will use the same preparation skills to become the aggressor when fighting your personal issues, but before you get there, you must find the aggressor in you with the physical training first. The whole point of the brutal training is to bring out the fighter in you. It is already inside of you. Your past enemies have suppressed it in attempt to diminish you. You have let them get the better out of you as they have rendered you passive and living a life with constant hesitation. The physical training is your opportunity to fight back. The WODs are just a metaphor of your severely weak past where you lacked aggression and let other walks over you. As you overcome each WOD with an aggressive mindset and action, you are slowly wiping out your formerly weak self. With each accomplishment in getting through the WODs, you will want more and eventually, you will seek out more. This aggressive mindset must be discovered in the WODs before you make the next step in your mental toughness development.

Once you have made a strong connection with your aggressive side as you repeatedly destroy the WODs, you can transfer this aggressive nature to how you deal with your personal problems as well. But, this will take some time before you get to this point.

So it is important that you all understand the reasoning behind this first mental toughness strategy. The better you understand the purpose behind the method, the more likely you will succeed in this program. So in simplest terms – if you can be aggressive with finishing the WODs, you can also be aggressive in overcoming the adversities in your personal life as well.

Not too difficult to understand.

Now let’s get started with the real work.

Strategy #1 Prepare Yourself to be the Aggressor

Go into the workouts with the attitude that you will not be pushed around.  The world is not kind to those who are weak. That, I’m sure, you know from experience. and I don’t have to tell you about. It has to come down to fact that you are sick and tired of letting other walk all over you. You got to be fed up with not living to your potential and always giving up on yourself. The constant habit of quitting without a fight, has led you to a life a major disappointments.

If you want to change, you’ve got to learn to take assertive action. This all begins with your attitude. If you can condition the mind to be on the offensive, you will be fit to combat anything that gets in way of what you want.

Toughness does not happen passively. You must go out and force the issue by finding the attack dogs within you. When it comes down to the workouts, there are only two outcomes – either you get through them or you don’t. Victory comes from finishing them. How you prepare for each workout will ultimately be the difference in your mental toughness progression or regression. Sun Tze’s “Art of War” is all based on winning the battle before you begin the fight. This program follows the same philosophy.  For many of you, the final outcome of the workout is pre-determined. You already have made up your mind if you will fight through to the very end or take a dive halfway through.

One of the best ways to develop the mindset of a fighter is to understand what your purpose is.  Question yourself with confronting questions like “Why do I need to become mentally tough? What is my purpose with my training today?” “What is lacking in my life that will benefit from becoming mentally tougher?” Confront yourself with the truth. Delve into your memory of incidents where you were weak and ask yourself the uncomfortable questions. “Why was I so weak in this situation? What will happen to me if I continue to be mentally weak? How do I feel when I am mentally weak?” The stronger you connect with your purpose, the more aggressive you will be in the WOD. This honest self-assessment is crucial to getting you geared up to face the upcoming war of the WODs and eventually from life

(End of part 1)

Today’s WOD:

10 burpees

10 hill sprints

Before you start today’s WOD, spend some alone time so you can reflect. It can be on your drive to the workout, during your mobility work or just sitting under a tree. Grill yourself with this basic question that you will ask yourself often during the training – “Why do I need to be mentally tough?” When I first started my mental toughness training, my strong purpose was because I was tired of being pushed around from people. Although this purpose changed slightly over the years as I found different nuances from it, this theme was pretty much the same for me. During the preparation process, it would only take a few minutes for me to ask my questions of purpose and needs and I was more than ready to deliver aggressive action against the WOD.

So today, let whatever emotions, feelings or memories rise up. Some of the responses may be painful, but try your best not to censor them. As long as they are honest and real, they can be implemented and used for ammunition for the upcoming WOD. You want to go into the WOD with as much motivation as possible because burpees and hill sprints are evil by themselves so the combination of them together is just a wretched experience. If you are unclear with your purpose and need, you won’t make it past the first two rounds. That’s how hard this WOD is.

Once you have stimulated yourself with these self-empowering questions and feel that your now in an aggressive state of mind where you are ready to battle, begin the WOD. Just be careful that don’t go full-blast at the first couple of rounds. You don’t want to start the workout like a screaming madman either. If so, you will burn out and won’t be able to finish the WOD. Nor do you want to pace yourself either and save your energy for the end. Being aggressive is a balancing act. With practice, you will find the medium. The important thing here is that you must always have aggressive thoughts roaming around in your head. When needed, you can apply as much action as needed from your aggressive mind set.

Trust me, with this WOD, there will be many moments where you will think that you can’t go on. When the treat of quitting becomes real, you must refer back to your needs and purpose. You must see how getting through the WOD will help you achieve your purpose and needs to be mentally tough. For example, for me when I felt like I was about to give up during the WOD, I would change my purpose statement of “I am tired of being pushed around from people” to “Getting through this WOD will stop others from pushing me around.”  I have a client whose purpose was “I am sick of living in fear.’ For her, whenever she was trouble in the WOD, she changed her purpose statement to “Finishing this WOD and I won’t live my life in fear anymore.” By putting on your attention of how the WOD can help you attain your purpose and needs, you will able to endure the physical and mental punishment.

So in conclusion, you want to get in touch with your purpose and needs to becoming mentally tougher during your preparation period. By doing so, you will be motivated to become aggressive during the WOD. However, once you start you don’t want to forget about them either. You will refer to your purpose and needs several times during the WOD, especially when you are most vulnerable.

So ask yourself the hard questions before the WOD today. Let your feeling and thoughts simmer with you. When you are ready, go to it.

Destroy and annihilate your weak past.

Scaled back versions of this WOD

1. Do only 6 reps of burpees

2. Walk up the hill instead of sprinting

3. Do only 4 sets

Acceptable alternatives

1. You can run on the treadmill at the highest incline for 30 seconds.


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