Mental Toughness Training Must Have a Carryover Effect to Your Personal Life

images (67)If the aggressive material and content of this site offends you, hug therapy might be better suited for your lifestyle and not toughness training.

(In the last couple of posts, I wrote an overall teaser of how this training must transfer to how you live your life. This topic of transferring toughness to everything you do outside of the gym will dominate the next couple of months.

Its not enough for me to be a mercenary when I approach the weights and workouts in the gym. I must train my mind and will to view all obstacles and challenges as enemies that must be destroyed. I know this statement may sound overly aggressive and  may put some of you off from my tone. If so, I understand. It’s been nice knowing you and you are probably better suited for kinder and less reactive sorts of training like forgiveness counselling or art therapy.

However, if you are a realist, you know that this world can be cruel to those that are weak.If you are tired of living a life as sap where you let others step all over you, this site is right up your alley. It is your time to get what you deserved and smash all the bullshit in between your future success.

If you are ready to go to work, read on.)

There is a direct relationship between your mental toughness training in the gym and your personal life. Too many people separate what they do in the gym and how they live. They categorize their strength only by physical standards. Maybe they may very strong with the bench press but are pushovers in their relationships. They have huge arms but are mentally fragile. They don’t see how physical strength training can also improve their mental power.

With this mental fitness program, I want you to see how the two go hand and hand. The strength and confidence you feel after getting through a tough workout should carry over to your inner strength the next time you have to deal with adversity outside of the gym. Being tough only during your workouts is not enough. The mental strength and confidence to persevere must convert to all aspects of your life.

And vice versa: if you overcome an awful personal ordeal, it should positively affect your next workout.  You should be more confident before you even begin. The animal in you should come out and stay with you to the very end.

Using the same mental strategies as with the workouts – Transferring the same strategies to other aspects of your life

When it comes down to facing any challenging situation, you want to approach the problem with a mental plan that will help you overcome the adversity. So it doesn’t matter if the challenge is a difficult CrossFit workout or a problem you are having at work. An obstacle is an obstacle regardless where you are. The objective of this training is to teach the mind to view any obstacles as challenges you must overcome.

The way to become mentally stronger against prevailing problems is to be as consistent with your strategies approaching all forms of adversities. The more you work at these mental skills, the better you will get at them. The WODs in the training program will give you plenty of opportunities to put these skills into practice, but you have just as many chances in your personal life as well. I dare say you probably have more than your share of situations to test your toughness and courage, but hide under the covers wetting your bed instead of confronting the unpleasantness. This regular procrastination has cost you badly. By unsuccessfully trying to suppress your problems, you have dug yourself deeper into the world of the weak and fearful.

I know because I have wandered much of my life in this abyss. The solution is to go cold turkey. You must stop being the person who submits easily and begin to be the one that others fear the most. Does this mean you will always be the victor? No. Unlike sports, there is sometimes no immediate clear cut winner or loser in life. You may be disappointed to not get what you want, but mental toughness is all about waiting it out. Instead of quitting, you continue your pursuit and even may fail many times over. The difference now when you are stubbornly tough is that you refuse to quit. Persevering is all about having the endurance to go to the very end and avoid falling apart psychologically. So when you are mentally tough, you’ll learn that sometimes winning comes later, much later, but is always worth the wait.

So the major difference between overcoming the WODs you’ll face in the physical training and the shit you have to go through in life is time. For the workouts, the average session should take you about 30 minutes, but in the life, to get through any difficult obstacle could take days, weeks, or much longer. Don’t put a time limit on yourself; don’t say, “If I don’t do this by tomorrow it means I failed.” It is more important to drill into your head that you must hunt down the problem with a relentlessness that is patient yet refuses to give up. You must learn to be aggressive, use positive thinking, initiate your will and incite ‘never say die’ mantras. The same mental strategies that you will conjure up during the WODs must be applied to your daily living. Remind yourself over and over again, that the mental toughness physical training must coincide with how you live your life. They are interconnected. You must be tough and strong in both aspects of your life. You can’t have one without the other. As you progress through this program, you will notice that the tougher you get with the workouts, the tougher you will get at handling life’s problems.

Today’s Strength day WOD –
5 sets of 5 reps
Back squat
Bent over rows
Strict military press
Dips (do as many reps as you can)

I get a lot of questions about how long one should rest between sets for the strength WODs. For the metcon WODs, you want to rest as minimal as possible, but on heavy training days you want to rest as long as possible so you can be 100 percent ready for the next lift.  This recovery period will vary from person to person and depending on the movement. For me, I rest the longest during my back squats breaks because squatting takes so much out of me.

I know most of you want a definitive answer such as a fix recovery time like one or two minute between sets. If that makes an easier for you, then two minutes between sets should be about right. However, don’t be too inflexible with this recovery time. On some days, you may need more time and other days you may need less. Listen to your body. The general rule is to get as much rest as needed so you can make the next lift.

The problem most people have while resting between sets is that they start to zone out. Their mind starts to wonder and they start thinking about other things besides the next lift like work deadlines or what to have for dinner. Remember mental toughness training is all about your thought process. So during the rest between lifts, you should keep your mind engaged as much as possible for the training. The rest period must be viewed as an extension and continuum of the workout.  In other words, instead of drifting off, you should be psyching yourself up for the next action.

Here are 3 tips you can use so you to help you stay focus during your break between sets:

1. Understand your purpose – The purpose for strength days is not only to help you gain strength and pack on muscles, but to get you mentally tough as well. Remind yourself between sets that after each set that you finish, you are getting closer to your overall goal of being mental toughness. You must always associate the heavy lifts as part of the mental toughness growth.  Your muscles are literally helping you lift the heavy load, but the hidden power is coming from the mind. When you reach those moments where you are struggling to get the weight to pass the sticking points, you must activate your mind to push you through it.

Between sets, I’m constantly reminding myself over and over of how the strength training is one of the keys to help me become mentally tougher. I say this so often that I think it is must be impossible for me to over do it. By seeing this connection between becoming physically stronger and mentally tougher, it just motivates me to no end. Instead of resting between sets and slowing my energy down, I feel so eager that I just can’t wait to get my hands on that fucken barbell. Nothing or nobody can stop me from picking up the weight. That’s how focus my attention is and must be for the next set.

2. Reload your mind for the next lift – During the break between sets, you are trying to calm down your breathing and get your muscles to recovery. However, what you don’t want to do is rest your mind. You want your mind to stay as active as possible on the next lift. This is the perfect time to use imagery and visualization to help you make the next heavy movements. So instead of daydreaming and people watching at the gym, see yourself  in your mind’s eye making the lifts. Studies have shown that the more vivid your imagery is, the more likely you will be successful with the upcoming lifts. What I like to do is to use as much sensory aspects as possible when I’m doing my visualization work. I like to imagine I’m“feeling” the bar in my hands as I pick up the weight. I then “hear” the weights pounding and clashing and my workout partner screaming positive encouraging words to me. Also, I hear myself “speaking” positive coaching cues to myself too.

It’s like watching a movie or a replay of the successful lifts in my mind. Scientific studies always suggest that visualization technique can actually increase your power and strength by almost 20 percent because the imagery in your mind stimulates your central nervous system. In other words, the body “thinks” it already have done the movement. So when you actually do the literal action, it will seem easier because your body will feel as if it has just accomplished the movement.

If that’s not a great example of the strength of the mind, I don’t know what is.

3. Continue to give yourself positive self-talk, mantras and specific coaching cues – When you are sitting down trying to catch your breath, this isn’t your free time where you can shoot the shit with a buddy or check out the hot bodies at your gym. If you lose concentrations, a fury of negative self-talk can invade you very quickly, especially if next up is a very heavy load that you are not sure you can do 5 reps of. So when you are settling down from your last set, a productive thing you can do to make sure you don’t lose your concentration is to keep up with your positive self-talk. Instead of chatting it up with a friend, tell yourself positive words that motivate, mantras and coaching cues. For me, a string of mantras that always boost my confidence that I say to myself when I’m gearing up for the next set is “Easy weight…easy weight…easy weight.” It’s very simplistic, but repeating this singular mantra over and over, helps calm my nerves down especially when I know I’m have to attack some heavy weight that’s out of my normal comfort level.

Simplicity works well for coaching cues too. You don’t want to over burden yourself with complicated and long drawn-out cues either. It can just cause you more anxiety. The coaching cues that always work the best are the ones that are direct and to the point. For example, when I deadlift, I sometimes have a bad habit of jerking the bar off the ground. To counter this potentially dangerous problem, I repeat the coaching cue “Take the slack out of the bar….take the slack out of the bar” over and over to myself. By drilling this cue in my head, I am making sure that I will perform the deadlift correctly.

In sum, these three tips can help you stay focus during your time between sets. I use this tips often whenever I have a strength WOD and hopefully you will too. If you do, I have no doubt that you will make great improvements with your strength numbers.

Scaled back version of the WOD –
1. Do three reps for three sets per movement.
Acceptable alternative –
1. You can do bench presses instead of the dips.
2. You can use dumbbells or a barbell for the strict military presses.

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