My Mental Toughness Thanksgiving

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This Thanksgiving, I made it point to train like how I always do every Thanksgiving. It was an outdoor WOD in 30 degrees weather of sprints in the snow, pull-ups and pushups. Mind you, I was the only fool that was outside working in the freezing cold. It was a brutal WOD as I hard time breathing and catching my breath after each set.

I always make sure I train on the holidays and events when most people don’t workout. This includes Super Bowl Sunday where most be take the off like a holiday and stuff themselves with foods filled with poisons.

I do this because this one huge way I can distance myself from mediocrity behavior. On holidays, most gyms are closed so it gives people the excuse to not train. This is the road average people take. However, when you are living a life to become mentally and physically stronger, you don’t take the easy road that average folks always choose. You take and make challenges for yourself.

I wish I had a better choice for not working out in the snow on Thanksgiving. However, I purposely made that the decision to come up with a WOD that forced me to be outside. I wanted to make a statement to myself that I will not be ordinary. I will do something that most people won’t do or have the guts to do. As bad as I was feeling from the effects of the sprints in the snow and bodyweight movements in the freezing cold, whenever I repeated my mantra of “Do things that people won’t do,” it rejuvenated me. It gave me the strength to do one more rep of the pushups/pull-ups combo and run just a little bit harder in the snow. As bad as I was suffering and had a hard time breath after each set, I got off by my pain. I am by no means a masochist, but I knew my outdoor effort was taking me the next level of mental toughness. I was about to accomplish something that I know most people wouldn’t even attempt to do. That in itself made my suffering into a pure joy.

Not that my lazy neighbors give a shit, but I also wanted to make a statement to those around me that I am not like them. I will not sit around and watch meaningless football games, eat sugar bomb desert just because tradition dictates how I should behave on this date. Fuck that. I live everyday to better myself. I thank my lifeless neighbors because I see them as my opponents. I must defeat their lifestyle because I was once a member of their mainstream brotherhood. They are reminders of how I used to be and what I most never become.

And most of all, I refuse to let the weather dictate how I shall train. Some of my best workouts have in the snow, rain and extreme heat because I now most people couldn’t handle the bad environmental conditions.

I train my ass off during these bad Mother Nature days because it’s just another sign of me failing to be ordinary. You should do the same. If you skipped Thanksgiving to be with your family, I totally understand that. However, Christmas is coming up. You can spend all day with your love ones that day, but make it effort to get up an hour to train. The gym may be close and weather may suck, but you can do something, anything to get your body moving.

The average person is mentally weak, lazy and full of excuses. Refuse to be like the rest. Take the initiative and be the opposite of the mainstream.

Do things that they wish they could do.

Today’s strength day WOD –

Work on establishing a two rep max for the following compound movements –


Dumbbell or barbell bench press

Front squat

Strict military press

When we spend years of doing single body part training with light weights or cables, we tend to forget the number rule for building a more muscular body. The concept of improving strength will lead to building of muscles seem to be forgotten in today’s high tech world of commercial gyms. Before the 1970’s, the focus on strength gains using full-body protocols was how the majority of athletes and bodybuilders trained. Back then I would say people were a lot of tougher than they are now. From my observation as an educator with the primary grades, we are raising the future generations to becoming a bunch soft wussies. I hate to tell you, but most of you probably fall in this group as well.

So let’s old school with this strength WOD. Let’s go back in time when things were much harder to do in the gym because you only had a barbell and not a bunch of fancy machines which your grandmother could figure out how to do.

Many of my readers ask me if you use the same mental strategies for the strength WODs as for the metabolic ones. Yes, you do. In the met-con WODs, it is easy to see how you may need an extra push to finish them, especially when you are having a difficult time breathing. With the strength WOD,  you need that extra push as well, particularly when you are working with heavier weights that push you out of your comfort level. If you don’t feel like you need that extra motivation, it probably means you are not going heavy enough. If you are approaching your last set of deadlifting and you don’t feel a need to be aggressive or have to refer back to your needs and purpose, that’s a sign that you are not challenging yourself. If you are about to do your last heavy front squat and there isn’t a rush of negativity infesting your mind, that probably means you using too light of weights.

So just like how you push yourself past the red line with the conditioning WODs, really force yourself to use more resistance on these strength training days. It doesn’t mean you have to pack on hundreds of pounds on every set. An extra five more pounds is sufficient. You may not be able to do it all the time, but aim to do it today while establishing what your 2 reps max today. In the upcoming weeks, you will go for new PR’s with the same compound movements.

When you use the same mental strategies as you do in the conditioning WODs, you will surprise yourself with how much strength you have been hiding inside of you.

Now go get uncomfortable and lift some serious weights.