Mental Toughness Strategy #3 for the Workouts – The Power of Mantras (Part 3)

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Always be on the lookout for babying yourself during a WOD.

(This is part three of this series on how to use mantras during your WODs. Most people may think of mantras as some sort of positive affirmation statements that you tell yourself over and over. Yes, they can be that. If saying these types of “feel-good” mantras give you the extra source of energy that you need during an imposing WOD, then use them. However, from my experience and the feedback from my clients, when it comes to high intensity CrossFit WODs, you need something more powerful than just telling yourself over and over how good you are. You need something extra that will provoke some rage in you to get you to fight back when your will is at a low point. Mantras that get some old fashion anger out of you is one of the most powerful and fastest way to wake you up when you are feeling sorry for yourself during a brutal WOD. You never want self-pity while training because if you do, you will become vulnerable to quitting. The whole point of this training is to teach you how to resist or better yet, put your fucken foot down to all notions of surrendering to the enemy.)

Oddly enough, I’m almost grateful now for those who belittled me in the past. Those sons of bitches made me into how I am now. If I ever run into any of them, I don’t know if I will bust their jaw or thank them. Probably do both, I guess.

So create some mantras that will cause some rage in you. If your mantra has a visual image or memory tie to it, that’s all the better. Many of my mantras usually have some person, situation or event associated with them and not just a bunch of empty words. Visualizing your mantra will come in handy because the intensity of these workouts will make you gasping for air and with the lack of oxygen in your body, you will have a rough time thinking straight. When your mind is spinning and it feels like you’re about to explode, you don’t have the capability to give yourself a long drawn out motivational speech.  With mantras, all I have to do is visualize one thing or repeat one word from the mantra to save me from a potential rapid descent. Many times when I was struggling, all I have to do is repeat the word “disrespect” from the mantra and I would be immediately loaded with some extra bite.

As energetic mantras can be, they also can calm you down when your lungs are seared and you can barely breathe. When this happens, I concentrate and focus on slowing down my breath so I can reassert the situation while repeating a mantra like “I need to calm my mind.” Saying this mantra over and over again, acts like a metronome so I can get oxygen back into my lungs to prevent a potential panic attack. With a less agitated mind, I am ready to let the mantra reload my emotions so I can do what they are supposed to make me do  – attack with sheer aggressive and ceaseless action.

So besides inspiration mantras and mantras that piss you off, there are a variety of mantras you can use to help in this training. There are no rules to coming up with mantras; you just have to use your creativity to find statements that energize you. My wife Diane has a very beautiful mantra that she uses – “Because I can.” This mantra not only motivates her to action, but also a strong sense of gratitude when compared to the painful times of her life when her nerve issues were so devastating she could barely walk. This new sense of appreciation is what inspires her to get through her battles with MS.

(To be continued)

Today’s Litvinov WOD –

5 sets

Deadlift – 5 reps

Thrusters – 5 reps

Burpees – 10 reps

This triplet combination of deadlifts, thrusters and burpee is beyond brutal. It is closer to being cruel and unsympathetic. Today’s test is dealing with the upcoming state of feeling sorry for yourself during this relentless training session.  I did this WOD earlier this week and after the second set, my heart rate was racing out of controlled and my mentality was desperately searching for excuses on why I should drop my rep count of burpees from 12 reps to 8.  My thoughts of weakness were “My shoulder isn’t really recovered from yesterday’s push press WOD, so maybe I should take it easier on myself and do less burpees and give my shoulder a break….doing 8 burpees instead of 12 will save my shoulders… 12 is just way too much today and I can really hurt myself if I continue to do 12 more in the following sets….”

I was clearly in my “poor, poor me” mode.  My shoulder was tight, but I won’t say painful. It was just your normal soreness after a overhead pressing WOD and no big deal at all.  It was just my weak self looking trying to rationalize and get me to baby myself.  When I caught myself trying to pamper myself, it triggered the “disrespect” mantra that I have always used when I felt belittle by other because of my past overly protected and timid lifestyle.

Instead of boo-hooing during my recovery, I got pissed off at myself for near quitting. I repeated my mantra of “I refuse to be disrespected and act like a baby” and I was seeing red and suddenly had the mentality of seeking trouble. Luckily, I found the conflict in the WOD and went after it. This WOD still sucked and I struggled big time with the heavy compound deadlift and thrusters, but I didn’t give in to it. I did all the burpees unbroken without any rest.

While during the last set of burpees, my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest and my legs were begging to me quit, but as badly as I was feeling, I still felt fucken unstoppable. I know this must sound like a huge oxymoron to you all and nonsensical, but when you have a mantra that motivates you as much as my “disrespected” one, you can continue to battle back no matter how much discomfort you are feeling. Mantras that deliver a rage in you allows you to tolerate loads of suffering as they incite your spirit. When your spirit is on fire, no hell can stop you.

I went from acting like a baby to a mental beast that wanted to crush and destroy all those who would have tried to stop me of reaching my goal of finishing the WOD in a split second.

That’s the power of mantra.

Experience their intoxicating power for yourself with this battle. During your preparation, come up with a couple of mantras that you know will piss you off to know in. When the time is right and you think you can’t go on, unleash them within yourself and go ahead and tear up this WOD.

Learn to crush all those who tell you what you can’t do and put you down. Beat them by becoming mentally stronger and achieving your life long goals.

Begin today.

Scaled back version of this Litvinov WOD

  1. Doing only 3 sets.
  2. Lower your rep count to 8, 6 or 5.
  3. Omit the thrusters.

Acceptable alternatives –

  1. You can use dumbbells or a barbell for the thrusters.
  2. Jumping jacks, running in place for 30 seconds are good alternatives to the burpees. Also, you skip rope or run on a treadmill as well for one minute as well.

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