When you make a dedication to becoming mentally tougher you will see life changing actions. Even though, I have been doing this type of mind improvement training for over ten years now, I still see noticeable changes in my behavior, especially with my integrity.
I’ll give you two examples this week of how I have changed since working on fixing my mental flaws. As most of you know, my coaches have put me on a four month squatting program. It is very demanding as it is full of high volume reps at near maximum weight. For me, anything past three reps is considered high rep work when you are lifting with a very heavy load. The squatting program sucks, but the effects have been tremendous on my mental toughness growth and leg and glute development. I started the program wearing size 28 pants and now none of my pants fit me. I’ve jump two pant sizes in the last three months. This alone will tell you how difficult this squatting program is yet rewarding in terms of building muscle. Getting “big” is not a priority with me. It’s just one of the positive benefits of heavy squatting. A true must, if you want to become mentally tougher.
Two years ago, my PR working back squat was only 215 and front squat was 195. This was due to years of not heavy squatting due to “bad knees.” It’s the same excuse that many of you have as well. There was nothing wrong with my knees. The problem was in my head as usual.
In the last year while training with Coach Brett and MJ, they have put squatting as a priority for improving my Olympic lifting lifts. As a result, my back squat PR is now 275 and my front squat is 235. Not huge numbers and nothing to brag about but quit a jump in the last two year. But the biggest improvement has been my mental outlook when squatting.
As a result, I have improved on my perseverance skills and ability to stare down on my enemies and attack them relentlessly. For example, last Friday I had to squat 225 for 8 reps. When I first saw I had to do this, I thought there would be no way in hell that I would be able to do this amount for so many reps. In the past when I was mentally weaker, whenever I was faced with a physical challenged that I may or may not be able to do, I would find any excuse to get out of it. If there wasn’t a logic excuse, I would immediately make one up for me.
On those rare days, where I was feeling somewhat courageous, I would attempt the physical challenge, but would be so overwhelmed with doubt, I would fail at the task. The failure at the challenge would linger at me so much that it would paralyze my efforts at further attempts. This fear of failing would have a crossover effect in how I would perform in the gym, but other aspects in my life like in my career, interpersonal relationships and whenever I was at a singles bar.
In those days, I just “knew” that I was going to fail, so why bother. I rarely tried and sat comfortably in my coward zone.
This lack of effort is how I have changed the most since discovering mental toughness training. Nowadays,I create as much aggressive action in my mind before I begin the fight. Instead of looking for reasons on why I am going screw something up, I’m looking for solutions on how to pound away at the adversity. My mind is still swirling with doubt, but I am able to counter-attack my insecurities with a relentless streak of positive self-coaching. By doing so, any physical challenge or overwhelming obstacle seems less impossible, but more of a realty that I not only will overtake it, but smash the fuck out of it.
This unstoppable determination before the battle is the key to mental toughness. Your frame of mind before going to the battlefield is the difference maker on whether you’ll come out of it on top or be somebody’s bitch.
So on the day of the 225 pound squat for 8 reps, I had some hesitation inside of me. The “old” me was telling me that there was no way I was going to able to do it and that I would fail after a couple of sets. It was the same recorded negative message that I heard most of my life and that I used to listen and believe in. But, now I have the mental skills to drown out the insecurities that have dominated most of my life.
The moments leading up to the squat, all negativity had disappeared to the point that there would be no doubt that I will make the lift. There was no way in hell that I could even envision that I would fail at this set.
I just knew I was going to make all eight squats.
That’s how reassured I was and confident that I would not only make the lifts, but to do in a very powerful and unbroken manner to show to myself that I would not only survive the heavy squats, but to shut the mouths of the enemies in my head that have controlled me for years.
This is what being “unstoppable” means and feels like.
The adversity was already defeated in my head before I made any physical contact. This is how I have changed.
And you must too.
(To be continued)
(Use a weight that you can handle for 5 reps for the hardest movement which will be the strict military press)
8 sets of 5 reps for each movement. Try your best not to rest between each movement
Strict military press
Bent over rows
Barbell roll outs (here’s a good tutorial video on how to perform them – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s9rcrCS28k)
When picking a weight to do this barbell complex, be conservative. You won’t need a lot of weight because this workout is about stimulating your metabolism and busting your mental focus. It is very difficult so don’t worry about going heavy. For some, the 45 pound barbell is more than enough. The general rule is to use the heaviest weight you can handle for the most difficult movement in the complex. For example, in this complex, the most difficult movement is the strict military press. Use a weight you can handle for this movement and not for the back squat.
In order to maximize your progress with this mental toughness program, you need to understand the reasoning behind the concepts. One of the main principals that I followed is based on SEAL toughness development. I wrote about on an earlier post and you can read about it here. If you read it already, review your notes again. Basically, SEAL training and the WODs in this mental toughness training program, are purposely trying to push your body to extreme exhaustion so you can use your mind to guide yourself through the physical task that you are doing. By taking your body out of the equation, you must learn to use your mind as your primary energy source. Most people think their muscles are what provides strength. They do, but they are no comparison to what the mind can do. The body has limits on what it can do, the mind does not. It is limitless in its source of power. I know this may sound like wacky bullshit to a lot of you, but with a few week into this mental toughness program, you will truly believe in it. The goal of this program is to teach you that your thought patterns are your greatest source of strength.
Even with all my years of training, I still have to constantly remind myself of this major mental toughness principal during my preparation (I will go heavily into the preparation process very soon) before I go into the WOD. If not, I will suffer just for the sake of suffering and that will do very little to mental toughness growth. So for all of you that is first starting out with your mental toughness training, make it a habit to remind yourself that what your are doing is purposely trying to over fatigue the body so that you can get the mind involved. With this barbell complex WOD, your whole body will be mushed very soon in the WOD, so this is excellent lesson for you to teach yourself how to let your mind take over the body. When the barbell complex has your whole body quivering and begging you to drop the weight, your mind must step in and be defiant with aggressive thoughts to shut up the pain and negativity.
This is your goal for today – activate the mind when your body has reached its limit.
If you can achieve this today during the WOD, you will make a huge step in your mental toughness progress. And when you do, it’s going to feel so fucken incredible.
Now go to work.
Scaled back version of this WOD:
1. Do 3 reps for each movement
2. Do only 5 sets total at 5 or three reps for each movement.
3. Omit the barbel roll outs.