Mental Toughness Strategy #1 for the Workouts – “Prepare Yourself to be Aggressive” (Part 3)


Aggressiveness does not mean being a bully.

(This is part three in the series. The first two articles were about you need to go into the WODs with an aggressive state of mind. One of the ways to do this is to ask yourself empowering questions like “Why do I need mental toughness in my life?” What will happen to me if continue to live a life of weakness?”  The stronger your needs and purpose for toughness development, the more likely you will be able to handle the mental and physical punishment from the WODs.)

I got a lot of emails last week on my two part series on the first mental strategy – preparing yourself to be aggressive in the WODs. It seems that the majority of you had the same type of questions. More or less, most of you wondered if being aggressive in the WOD will turn you into a bully in the gym or will you get burnt over in too early in the WOD if you are overly aggressive.

These are both great questions that I will cover in the following blog. Aggressiveness is one of the multiple meaning words that has a lot different definitions. One of the biggest mistakes and misconceptions I see a lot of people make is to equate being aggressive only with behavior. As a result, some people think they have to start off the workouts in a super hyperactive mode moving at a rapid pace that is impossible to maintain and then end up completely exhausted before the WOD is done. Acting like a lunatic on crack or a bully in the gym is the not the aggression that I’m talking about. Being aggressive without any control is nothing but self-indulgence. It’s just manic behavior that will lead to inconsistent results and major burn-out. The forceful aggressiveness that I’m talking about begins and takes place in the mind. Sure, you will be able to see the effect expressed through actions, but that’s only one aspect of aggression. There are many shades of aggression; the form we are coveting is psychological.

Aggression is a state of mind that will dominate your thinking process during the adversity that is inevitable from this training. It is about being methodical with a strategy to overcome the threat of quitting. You are never reckless, but one always in control of your emotions. Mental toughness is about your thinking patterns. If you do not have a clear mind, you will have difficulty forming your plan of attack. Your foe will always try to disrupt your composure and try to make you panic. So you must remain cool because most of these WODs are so daunting you just might get wigged out before the training begins.

Focus on remaining calm while the fire is burning deep inside is a skill in itself. You can be perfectly still in the presence of your opponent, but aggressive thoughts are always multiplying.  If this sounds like a contradiction of two emotions, well it is, but this is how one gets ready to going into competition with the intent of applying some serious force sooner or later. Just look at how boxers come out their dressing rooms ready to fight. They are relaxed yet intense with their focus. Although they appear calm, they each have one goal in mind – to annihilate their opponent. The best fighters are patient, calculating, and just waiting for their opponent to make a mistake. And when he does, the successful fighter will punish him with aggressive fury. On the other hand, if a fighter gets hurt and goes down to the mat, it’s going to take as much aggressive effort for him to get back up. Only through aggressive determination can he make a comeback. In both scenarios, having an aggressive mind is essential to either delivering a vicious uppercut or get you back on your feet when your opponent has knocked you down. It’s all about having the ability to be aggressive at the right time.

In terms of the workouts, it’s always questionable how much aggressive action you want to expend. Use your level of fitness to determine how much intensity you want to put into each workout. If you’re a beginner, ease into it. However, if you are fairly physically fit, you can work much more intensely. Again, how hard you go depends on what kind of workout you are doing. There are some WODs in this program that are very short and anaerobic so you want to go full-bore at them; some are more aerobic in nature and will test your stamina more.

Aggressive thoughts can help you work at the highest intensity possible. Or you may choose to conserve some of your energy until you need that extra oomph to go on. Like a sniper, you must practice keeping the body calm while calculating aggressive action. The attacking nature of a predator must always be there and available in time of need. This will take some ruthless focus on your part, but with constant practice from this training, you will achieve this ability to becoming a clinched fist in motion. All these workouts are stacked with difficulties so there will always be that crucial “moment of decision” where you will choose if you will go on or quit. If you feel like relinquishing the fight, you must call upon your aggressive reserves.  Do this time after the time and you will strengthen your character. Having the faith to know that you can rely on yourself to get through any adversity is the heart of having a strong character.

(End of part 3)

Today’s Litvinov WOD –

6 sets

Heavy deadlifts – 5 reps

Barbell thrusters – 5 reps

400 meter run (approximately)

This Litvinov WOD is going to be a doozy. Out of all the WODs that I have posted on this site, this is by far the most challenging. I’ve done this deadlift/thrusters combo with the run and each time I do it, I always wonder very early in the WOD why in the hell am I putting myself through this misery. As awful as you will feel during the WOD, you will hundredfold better and more satisfying after it is over. So, this great sense of accomplishment does outweigh the extreme discomfort that is inevitable with this punishing Litvinov WOD. You just have to finish this Litvinov WOD to experience the rush of supremacy. However, before you get there, the whole experience is going to suck ass big time. My finally warning to you all.

So here is good time to practice being in the aggressive state of mind while being calm and control. During your preparation period, let your thoughts, emotions, memories stimulate you into almost being in a state of rage. If you get to the mindset that you just want to trounce  somebody in the gym that looks at your wrong, pull back your thoughts. In other words, if your thoughts are boiling with emotions, let them reach a high temperature and then calm yourself down. Go into the WOD with your thoughts simmering instead of fuming. However, know that when you have to, you can access your mind immediately to be inciting with the most aggressive and raging thoughts you slightly tapped into during your prep period.

This does not mean you are going to pace yourself either. I highly suggest you go all out and sprint during the last 50 or so yards of the 400 meter run. This will ensure you keep up the integrity of making the WOD as intense as possible. By this point or half way through the second set, you should really feel the staggering effects of the Litvinov. This is the time to retrieve your emotions, thoughts, positive self-talk to get you in the highest level of aggression needed to help you defeat the onslaught of negativity and the threat of quitting that is coming in a big hurry.

For me, when I tap into this ultra level of aggressiveness in me, my mind becomes angry and becomes to take on a life of its own. Instead of telling me what to do, my mind is screaming and shouting at me with to never give up like how I use to. What surfaces in me is years of frustration and flashback of weakness that is exploding in my mind, that I can’t make it stop. The bad memories begins to encompass all my thoughts and I fucken hate it. I just can’t help myself but get pissed off at myself for giving up when I was should have fought back. By channeling in on this bent up emotion and seeing the WOD as a metaphor for my weak past, I am furious at myself for my lack of action against personal adversities. Now I am roaring back and directing my high-power emotions to finishing the WOD, no matter how bad I’m hurting. Its the only way I can make the real pain of the years of mental suffering leave my soul.

During it all, I vow to myself to always and for the rest of my life to fight back.

When I could get you all to do the same, I will have done my job.

Today it begins.

Scaled down version of this Litvinov WOD –

1. Omit the thrusters or do strict military presses instead.

2. Run 200 meters

3. Walk the 400 meters.

4. Do only 4 sets.

Acceptable alternatives:

1. You can use a barbell or dumbbells for the thrusters

2. Run on a treadmill or jump rope for a minute over the 400m run.





2 thoughts on “Mental Toughness Strategy #1 for the Workouts – “Prepare Yourself to be Aggressive” (Part 3)”

  1. Jack thank you for all of your blogs. Just got laid off today for the second time in 3 years. My wife and I have been reading your blogs tonight and your words are really helping put things in perspective. As parents of three kids we work everyday at committing outselves to being more physically and mentally tough. I have had a ton of training on various business topics but none have been more impactful to me than the stuff on overcoming adversity. Your work and the adversity quotient are right on the money. I am pulling myself off the mat and getting back into the game It is the only way!

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