This is How I Have Changed from Mental Toughness Training (Part 1)

download 1I got lots of emails about my latest experiment on documenting my thoughts before, during and after a WOD and seems that I was very helpful to many of you. Glad it was. I will continue to takes notes of my thought patters of future training so I can share them with you all.

It seems that the majority of you were very shocked at my daily struggles with the WOD. Many of you commented that my mental battle was very similar to the mind wars that you all go through. Some of you were very surprised that at veteran like myself would have the same problems and troubles of a rookie to this training.

So the main questions the majority of you want to know is when does mental toughness training get any easier?

On my ten-year quest towards mental toughness achievement, I used to think it would. That some day, I would be so confident in my abilities in the WOD that I would get through a hard training session without any negativity or doubt what so ever. I used to envision that someday all the WODs would be a piece of cake. I would be so mentally tough that I wouldn’t even break a sweat or go through my usual mental anguish of trying to avoid the WOD.

After a decade of mind improvement training, I come to the conclusion that the training will never get easier. The upheaval and stumbles will remain a consistent. The mind games will never go away. It some ways, they become more profound and personal. Even though I constantly improve on getting a faster time when repeating a timed-WOD and continue to hit new PRs in my strength training, it’s still feels like I’m swimming against the tide.

So, I hate to break it to you all, but this regimen of training will never ease up. There is no end point or finish line to mental toughness status. It is lifelong journey that will always test your resolve by putting you in “you better finish or else” challenges. Once you get better and adapt to the physical savagery of a CrossFit WOD, you up the ante again. You increase the intensity of the training by shortening your resting period, adding more weight, go faster or run a little farther. As you improve with your conditioning level, you must tighten the knob a little harder with the physical aspect of the training. So in other words, the training will and must always put in a state of discomfort.

So the big question is – if I always have to mentally and physically struggle during a WOD, how do I know if I have improved with my ability to overcome adversity? For me, I have totally transformed my whole being with this training.

The biggest difference between how I am now compared to what I was before is one simple factor. Now when my world is crashing down on me, I know I have the courage to get back up. Whenever life has played a cruel trick on me, I know I can take the blow and redeliver an even bigger one. In terms of the WODs, no matter how much I am hurting or how much I want to quit, I know I have to ability to push myself through it.

Before this type of training, whenever I had my back against the wall, I was always vulnerable to quitting or being a big time pussy because I never believed in my ability to fight back.

Now I am the complete opposite. The more awful the predicament that I am, the more confidant I am that I will find a way out of it and be victorious. Ten years ago, awful events would turn me into a coward; now terrible circumstances bring out the best in me.

This is how I have change.

And you will too if you give this mental training some time to harden you.

So order to feel this invincible when facing the biggest insurmountable obstacles, you need one thing in your training.

You need the WODs to be as fucked up as possible. Like any superhero movie that needs a good villain to offset the hero, you need your insecurities and fear to arise in the WODS. You don’t become confident automatically by just by sitting on worthless machines, texting on your cell between bench pressing while watching ESPN highlights on the flat screen TVs that are plastered all over your shitty commercial gym. If this were the case, “Planet Fitness” would be pumping out fearless warriors that rule the masses. However, this is not the case. The last I looked, the average American is a pizza fiend, addicted to XBOX and a huge pushover with a soft belly. To be mainstream is to be fat and timid. A terrible combination.

In other to transform yourself, you must destroy your weaknesses.

This takes hard work and a lot of physical challenges where you must figure out a way to overcome it. If you quit – you mentally digress. If you get through it, you become a little bit tougher.

So the concept is simple. In order to progress, mental toughness training must always put you at a high level of unease.

(To be continued)

Today’s Litvinov WOD –

5 sets

Deadlifts – 5 reps

Dumbbell thrusters – 5 reps

Farmer’s walk – 1 minute

For you high overachievers out there, the challenge of this WOD is to do the thrusters and don’t put the dumbbells down. Go straight into the farmer’s walk and focus on squeezing the fuck out of the handles the entire time of the walk. After about 30 seconds, your hands will feel dumb and your body will be drenched in sweat. When the minute of walking with the weight is over, you will be so exhausted that you will be tempted to carelessly drop the dumbbells where ever you are.  Be extremely cautious and aware of this. There are many examples on youtube of those senseless dummies breaking a foot or getting a giant bruise on a shin from a bouncing 75 pound dumbbell. Don’t’ be that guy. Make a conscious effort to lower the dumbbells back to the rack.

I know after posting this WOD, many of you will find excuses on not to do it. Some of you may avoid doing it for days before going to the gym and finally doing it.  My suggestion to you all is that if looking at this WOD causes you anguish, confront your anxiety as soon as you can.  Don’t let it linger. By facing the WOD and not backing down, you are trying to create a new habit for yourself. A habit of dealing with your fears head on instead of running away from them. With repeated practice, it will become a routine. The ultimate goal of this program is to teach you not only to stare down your fears in this training, but the real things that we should be scared of like life’s problems.

This deadlift-thruster-farmer’s walk combination is brutal, but if you have been on this mental toughness program for a while it’s no difference than past WODs that you have done.  They all should cause some havoc on you. This WOD is no different so stop giving your foes and adversities, the advantage over you. The worst thing you can do while going into a fight is to give your opponent more power than they actually have. Part of mental toughness development is learning to give yourself the credit that you can handle the challenge and then some. Instead of taking on the victim mentality that this WOD is going to kick your ass, you must shift your mental paradigm. Reflect on your past accomplishments in this training and personal life. By doing so, will help you become the aggressor instead of being the passive coward. If you have a history of acting cowardly, you should get pissed off at yourself for your past behavior. Think of all you lost and all you could have gain if only you would have taken some action. That’s right – you should feel like shit for knowing how much you could have gotten if only you tried. This post isn’t about humiliating you or making you feel bad about yourself. It’s about motivating you to stand up for yourself.

Get pissed off. Take the initiative, regardless of how bad this WOD is going to make you feel. True courage is taking action even though you know how bad it’s going to hurt or how awful you might feel during the process.

By not giving a shit about the outcome and focus on being aggressive is how you can whip this WOD or any personal setback in your life.

Now go to it and crush this mutherfucker.

Scaled back version of this WOD –

  1. Do only 3 sets.
  2. Omit the thrusters.
  3. Do the farmer’s walk for 30 seconds.

Acceptable substitutes –

  1. You can do jumping jacks or just walk for one minute or 30 seconds instead of the farmer’s walk. Also, running on a treadmill for a minute is also okay.