The Number One Key for Mental Toughness (Part 3)

delay 2So whatever you put in your mouth, ask yourself the tough questions: am I eating for health benefits down the line? Or am I just satisfying my immediate needs? These two are the basic questions you need. If you wish and want to make the questions more specific, go for it. Some example can be: Will eating this broccoli make me feel healthier in the long road? Or will scarfing down on this cheesecake help me lose weight or do I want it because I need to satisfy my infantile  needs.

Get in the daily habit of asking yourself these questions when ever you are about to eat something. The more you do it, the more automatic it becomes.

If you still are making bad choices and finding yourself pigging out on crap foods, you need another tactic. Something more blunt and in your face. Remind yourself of this fact – the main folks that suffer from chronic immediate satisfaction issues are drug addicts, the obese crowd and newborn babies. To highlight this concept, take brand new infants for example. They need things like food and warmth promptly. They don’t have the patience to wait. And what happens when they don’t get things their way?

They cry.

This is what happens to you when you don’t have the ability to deter gratification too. You may not cry literally, but you shed tears in different and worse ways. You whine and complain until you get your needs fixed.

So the truth being told. Now that you understand this concept better, do you want to fall in this label as being weak like a baby?

I didn’t think so.

So straighten up your act and learn to make smarter and wiser food choices that will enhance and not hinder your health. Also, remind yourself constantly that your food choices will have a direct influence on your mental toughness growth.

In other words, if you can make learn to postpone your weakness in the kitchen, you can surely do the same in the gym. Most people have a difficult time seeing this connection. Let me explain. Take for example, you’re doing a set of 12 reps of back squats. By the 8th rep, you’re feeling the burn in your legs. You do another rep. The burning in your legs intensifies. You can either go on and finish the set or quit. If you stop, you’re giving in to your immediate gratification needs. The instant reward is the relief of pain in your legs.

However, if you didn’t stop and gutted out 3 more reps to finish the set in an unbroken manner, you were able to tap into your delay gratification system. This means you when you were suffering at the 8th reps, you were able to hold on and deal with the pain so you can finish your set. Instead of the immediate relief, you were able to tolerate the burning and experience a greater satisfaction by proving your toughness by extending the set. Also, by delaying the immediate relief, you are able to reap in the positive benefits of more HGH and testosterone releasing in your body by fighting through the lactic acid process.

So the same immediate versus delay gratification principals can be applied to your training as well as to your eating habits.

Another way at looking at this psychological concept is to analyze how you react when you are dead tired during a WOD. When you hit the wall, you can either call it a day or fight through it. If you puss out, you are giving in your instant and weak reward needs. Again, this outcome that you are seeking is the relief of pain.

However, if you choose to be a warrior and continue to battle on, you are learning to hone in on your delay gratification mode. That is, continue to suffer and accept the payoff later. The reward may not be as concrete and arrive in the upcoming weeks or months when your muscles begin to show, but nevertheless they are a coming.

I hope you all are getting a better idea of how important this inner battle of giving in vs. holding out is. The key takeaway is that is you if you’re continuously controlled by your immediate wishes, you are a weak person with terrible self-discipline.

But, what’s worse about a person that can’t delay gratification is clear sign that one is a huge quitter.

(To be continued)

Today’s strength training WOD

5 sets of three reps

Front squats

Dumbbell bench press

Back squats

Military press

Toes to bar (As many reps as you can do per set)

You probably noticed that I dropped the reps to 3 for today’s strength WOD. That means, I want you to progressively add more weight with each per set, even if it’s only 5 more pounds. I want you to try to establish today is you PR max with 3 reps for the compound movements today.

The psychological focus today is how to regain your aggression during a WOD after you lost it. Getting into a state of an aggressive mind set for the beginning of a WOD is pretty straightforward. You do your mental warm-ups and when the WOD begins, you mind is fuming with aggressive thoughts. Simple enough. The problem arises is when the WOD begins to overpower you and fatigue starts to set in. When this happens, you become less aggressive with your thoughts and actions and doubts of your ability to finish the WOD begins to dominate your mind-set. When this happens, you are prone to quitting.

Most newcomers to this high intensity training make the wrong assumption that just because they psyche themselves to become relentless during their preparation time, they will automatically be aggressive throughout the battle. You can never assume that you will be in attack mode. The skill that you are honing in on today is this ability to summons in on your aggressiveness at your will.

The goal of the preparation process is not to elicit aggressive thoughts and behaviors throughout the challenge, but to make it immediately accessible when called up. One of the best way to do this is by constantly referring back to your needs and reasons to become mentally tougher. Unlike the metabolic conditioning WODs, with strength training workouts, you have a distinct resting period in between sets. Some of you will take this resting period too literally and by doing so, you will dissipate a lot of your aggressiveness out of you. This could be especially a problem if you start a conversation with somebody, begin texting or just day dreaming. So stay focus on your task which is – you have to lift some fucken heavy shit really soon.

Instead of zoning out, you should use the time to focus on the lift, especially when the weights start to pile on. Your thoughts should be coaching cues to help you make the lift with correct form mixed in with the occasional reference back to why you need mental toughness in your life. Learn to visualize yourself making the lifts and how the successful lift will get you closer to ending a life of being mentally and physically weak. By tying in the successful lift with mental toughness growth, you just created a greater sense of urgency by putting more meaning in the lift if you make it than just your average last set. By taking risk and putting yourself on the line with the outcome of the heavy lift, you have a lot to lose, but so much more to gain when you make it. This is the attitude that I want you all to seek after.

This is the sort of aggressiveness that is rarely seen in the average, but common for those who aren’t afraid of trying. With the effort comes the toughness.

You will strain today, but you will not be stopped.

Now go pile up some weights and experience it for yourself.

Scaled back versions of today’s WOD –

1. Omit the toes to bar.

2. You can replace the back squats with good mornings.

3. Do only three sets per movement.

Acceptable alternatives –

1. You can use a barbell for the bench press if you wish. And for the presses, you can use either dumbbells or a barbell. Just don’t use a shoulder press machine.