Mental Toughness Strategy #3 for the Workouts – Optimizing Positive Self-Talk (Part 2)

images (34)  (In part 1 on this series, I introduced mental strategy #3 for this training. Using positive self-talk is pretty straightforward, yet very difficult to implement. Our mind is so inundated with and polluted with negative thoughts. Lot of the negative chatter is not from you, but a collection of people from your past that have told you what you can’t do. Instead of shutting up these voices, they have settled in your mental psyche for years. Now is the time to turn off these voices for good. One of the best ways to do this is through the physical training. By fighting through the WODs, you will slowly begin to hear another voice encouraging you to keep going. That positive voice is your true self talking to you.)

Like your mental preparation warm-up and your will, you must view positive self-talk as a skill that you can acquire. You are in control of the direction your inner dialogue takes. This does not mean you will never say any unwarranted destructive comments to yourself; that would be unrealistic. Work on learning how to make simple positive adjustments to counter the negativity. As soon as the negative thought process begins, you must block it immediately with a positive response. If you are suffering from fatigue during your workout, the most common negative response would be “I’m too tired and I can’t go on anymore.” You must change this negative perspective to something positive and make the behavior attainable like “I’m tired, but I know I can do one more set of pull ups.” Making the behavior achievable like doing one more set is the key. One of the best ways to off-set a negative view is to change one’s perception of the action from something that is problematic to one that is reasonable and in reach.

Positive self-talk is a play of words, but just a subtle change can put whole different meaning to your thought process. Remember this training is all about how your thoughts influence your behavior so you want to have as many positive and aggressive action statements roaming around in your head. The good news is that most people repeat the same negative statements over and over like “I can’t do this” or “This is too hard.” Look for certain negative verbs in you thought patterns like “can’t” or “don’t” and replace them with positive verbs like “must” or “can.” This method is simplistic but quite effective, especially when the WOD is causing your heart rate to pound at a rapid pace. You don’t want to replace your negative self-talk with a long drawn out positive monologue. A simple swap of a few words is more practical and useful.

When you first start off with this program, write down any self-defeating clichés you say to yourself during the WOD in your journal. Change these unconstructive statements into positive ones.   Anticipate these negative thoughts popping up again so that next time you are prepared. Be ready to override them with the new encouraging statements you’ve written in your journal.

One of my clients has quite an effective trick to fight his negative dialogue. He doesn’t censor his negative jabber. He allows them to come up and with every negative statement, he adds a positive or encouraging statement at the end of it. For example, if he says to himself “This WOD is too hard”, he’ll combine it with another sentence with and make it into a new positive thought like “This WOD is too hard, but I’m more than half way done with it” or“ This WOD is too hard, but I am getting mentally stronger because I haven’t quit.” By twisting the negative meaning of the statement into an upbeat tone, this positive self-talk technique is very persuasive when you are close to quitting.

An advanced technique you can use when you get more experienced with this program is to associate the negative with something positive. It’s the “There is magic in the misery” concept. Don’t fight the negativity; you embrace it. As one of my clients says “If it hurts, it’s good.” I would never suggest training to point of physical pain. I am not talking about this at all. If ever during the WOD and there is acute pain in your joints or if it feels like you pulled a muscle, always stop! You never want to work so hard that you feel physical pain. What you want to do instead is work hard to push you through extreme exhaustion.

What my client is referring to when she said “If it hurts, it’s good” is to all the metabolic benefits that happens to the body when is able to work through high levels of discomfort. Some of the “good stuff” are optimal hormonal releases like testosterone and HGH and a higher metabolism. Both will help you develop a leaner body while slashing the extra flab around your middle. But, more importantly, by working through the hurt is the only way you will become mentally stronger.

If ever during the WOD you are feeling really uncomfortable, you are exactly where you are supposed to be. So instead of saying, “This hurts so much,” remind yourself of the “magic in the misery” and change that though to “This hurts so much, but that’s a good thing because my mind will get stronger.” Or “I can hardly breathe” to “I can hardly breathe so this must mean my metabolism will rise and I will burn tons of fat.

Again, this is the ability to reverse any negative situation and perceive it as a positive one, and is what mentally toughness is all about. I call this positive self-talk method of equating pain with pleasure an advanced one because it takes a while before one begins to associate the discomfort as rewarding. It usually comes after you see the positive rewards from this program, or better yet, when others recognize it. When your circle of friends starts to take notice and complement you about your new display of mental strength and tighter body, watch out. The pain and fatigue from the WODs suddenly becomes a little bit more tolerable. I’m not saying that you will become a masochist, but you’ll understand that there is a hell of a lot of magic in those agonizing moments of muscle burning and extreme breathlessness.

(To be continued)

Today’s Litvinov WOD –

6 sets

1. Thrusters – 6 reps

2. Kettlebell swings – 10 reps

3. Burpees – 12 reps

I don’t care how confident a person you are. When you saw this WOD combining thrusters and burpees, I’m sure you had instant doubts of being not being able to finish it. In your mind, you could picture and feel how miserable it is going to be. Being miserable is exactly the theme of today’s WOD. After you are done with this WOD, I want it to be on the top of your list of WODs that you hate. It has to be this awful, if not you won’t learn today’s mental toughness lesson.

We are going to stay with the “magic in the misery” concept for today’s Litvinov WOD. I don’t care how what a bad ass you are, you will feel great levels of agony from going from the thrusters to the burpees. When the suffering and extreme breathlessness starts to engulf you, the threat of quitting will be very real. Instead of giving up, you must counter this temptation with your belief in the “magic in the misery.”

When you feel like you’ve had enough, tell yourself of how much HGH you will be releasing from this WOD. At the height of your discomfort where you can barely breathe, calm you anxiety with the reassuring thought that you will get one hell of a metabolism boost from this WOD. When you don’t think you can do another burpee, crank out 3 more because you know each one will make a huge mark in your mental toughness development.

As fucked up as it will get, remind yourself that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

When you are resting between sets, tell yourself that without any of the discomfort, the whole WOD would be worthless. You want it to be this bad. You actually need and crave this misery because the training has transformed you into a beast that is not only addicted not only to challenges, but to defeating them.

As you get close to finishing your final burpees, anticipate the joy that you will feel when you are finally done. Summon the soon to be ecstatic emotions and let it push you to finish the last couple of burpees with the most speed and explosiveness that you can muster.

As you lie there motionless in a pile of your sweat when you are done, you may not remember all the details of the last couple of minutes to this WOD. It probably will feel like a blur to you. Feel the glory and pride of staying with the misery to getting the job done today. As bad as it felt today, leave the gym knowing that in upcoming WODs, you can handle even more challenging WODs as this one. This was nothing to what you know you can tolerate and overcome. Bring on the next one and make it even rougher. You look forward to the next WOD because you know It doesn’t stand a chance in hell with you.

Feel the rise of power within you. You not only need the misery, but now you fucken love it.

This is how tough you are becoming.

Scaled back version of this Litvinov WOD –

1. Omit the swings and only do the thrusters and burpees. (Although, this may even be harder because of the greater intensity!). An easier version is to omit the thrusters.

2. Do only 3 sets.

3. Run in place or do jumping jacks for 1 minute instead of the burpees.

4. Do only 5 burpees and 5 swings.

Acceptable alternatives –

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

2. You can use a dumbbell for the swings if you don’t have a kettlebell.

3. If you can’t do the burpees due to an injury, jump rope for a minute.

6 thoughts on “Mental Toughness Strategy #3 for the Workouts – Optimizing Positive Self-Talk (Part 2)”

  1. I like the tips in this piece! Definitely we try the magic and misery suggestion.


  2. Did the WOD last night. Man, do I hate burpees. Thought I was going to die.

    I really hope there is magic in the misery because I was one miserable SOB during the WOD.

  3. Getting over my negativity is near impossible for me. Both my parents were really negative so I had to deal with that all my life. I like the advice you have been given on this series so faqr. I’m trying my best to take baby step in being a bit positive. It has been very difficult, even in my outlook for the wods. I approach each wod with such a sense of dread and I just don’ t doing them. The good news is that I haven’t quit in any of the wods.

    Been doing the program for about a month now.

Leave a Reply