(Had the flu this week so I didn’t get to do much writing. Instead caught up on “Daredevil.” Will be back next week with new blog.)
This mental toughness blog is about strengthening your mind to overcome adversity. The benefits of having a strong mind is that you know you can overcome any disappointment or asshole pricks in your life. When your mind is empowered, those around you know that you are a force to be reckoned with and will begin to treat you differently. Most learn how to persevere through our upbringings from our parents. Tough love is the most common parental approach to teach one how to deal with frustrations and setbacks during early childhood. However, some of our parents didn’t instill in us the “never quit” attitude that essential for those who are naturally mental toughness. We have to learn it ourselves, the hard way through life lessons in our adult years. Sometimes we can endure through great hardship while other times, we give in and quit. We just can’t pin point the factors that help us overcome obstacles while other times, we cave in without much effort. As a result, getting through misfortune is too inconsistent for most. The ability to persevere becomes too abstract.
This blog was designed give you tips and training to make perseverance a concrete skill. It is never too late to improve this skill either. Like any other aptitude, it just takes some guidance and practice: a lot of practice in hardship while putting your thoughts to the forefront. But focusing on the mind does not mean you are avoiding the body. The whole concept behind this training is the mind can lead the body to do unbelievable things. Once you can see the how the mind and body mesh as one, you will become an unstoppable machine. Your thought patterns are capable of pushing your body to do things that were once inconceivable. Not only will you be able to accomplish those abilities you once envied in others, but surpass them. A huge part of being mentally tough is a having a higher pain tolerance level than those who are average. With this training, you will learn to raise your pain threshold so you will have more stamina and strength than you ever could have imagined.
The major problem most of you have is that your mind is holding your body back. The body can do unbelievable feats of strength, yet, your mind doesn’t believe in can. As a result, your expectations for yourself are way too low. The bar you set for yourself during your workouts is ridiculous low. When you avoid challenges, you shut down your mind and pretty much just go through the motions of your training. Your mind is so disinterested that you don’t even notice how mechanically you are moving or see that odd vacant look on your face. I call this stuck in the rhythm of “doing nothing.” I encourage you all to go to your commercial gym and check out this sad phenomenon caused by conventional wisdom. You all, right now, have the potential to lift way more weight than you ever thought possible, but it is your mind that needs the convincing. For example, I know a lot of you have gone to gym and lifted a heavy weight and then found out that the actual weight was a lot heavier than you thought it was. This common mistake is an example of how the mind puts limits on what the body can actual do.
When most people workout, they put all the emphasis on the particular body part that they are working on. For example, if you are working on your chest, you want to put your attention on your pectorals. As a result, most people don’t feel a connection with their mind when doing body part training. For this mental toughness to be developed, the primary goal must be to strengthen the mind first. Improving your mind must be your top priority. When you develop your inner strength capacity first, everything else will follow. You will get a better body and be better at reaching your personal goals. This may all sound counterproductive, but if you have a mind that is relentless, you will train with more intensity, lift more weights, run faster and longer. The byproduct of mental toughness training is having a better body. Currently, your mind is holding back your physical goals and preventing you from reaching your lifelong dreams. By liberating and empowering your mind, you will break your self-imposed limitations and reach higher potentials than you ever could imagine. But, first you must get your mind right. Fixing your mind must be your top priority when approaching the workouts.
So by focusing on the mind first, the aesthetics will follow. This may be a backwards approach as compared to what conventional wisdom has taught us on to put all our attention on the body, particularly individual body parts. But, what the masses are doing just isn’t working, so you must do the opposite. By prioritizing the mental aspect, your mind will discover it has unlimited amounts of power and seek out new physical challenges to satisfy its hunger. Overcoming the strenuous workouts will be so pleasurable that it borders on mental exhilaration. When you experience this intense gratification from the will of your mind, the training becomes addicting. This approach of empowering the mind will lead you to believe that nobody or anything can ever break or demoralize you. As a result of getting through the metabolic workouts and eating a Paleo food plan, you will dramatically improve your body composition. Conventional wisdom superficial body part training is about temporary body makeovers that can’t make up for low self-esteem. This mental toughness training is about sustaining lifelong improvements that will improve your overall quality of life.
Today’s strength day WOD –
5 sets of 5 reps
Incline bench press
One arm bent over rows (5 reps per side)
Today’s objective is to add a little bit more weight with each set. Even if you add as little as little as 2 and 1/2 pounds per set, you are achieving the objective of a progressive overload workout session. If you have to drop the reps down to 4 or 3 or even down to 2 reps, that’s fine for today. Just stick with the plan of adding more resistance after each set. Rep count is not important for today’s training.
As you begin to pile on the weights, doubt begins to slowly creep in. Remain positive, especially if you start to get a little scared of the heavier weights. Continue to use positive visualization as you see yourself in your mind making successful lifts.
Getting fearful is normal even for experience weightlifters when the weights start to add up and you start getting tired. As you start to progress towards the final sets, more doubt begins to set it. Counter the negativity, but thinking back on the earlier sets that you just crush. Use the momentum of accomplishing the previous sets to help you finish off your final rounds.
Above all, refuse to give into the fear of bigger weights. One of the best ways to offset the fear is focus even more using perfect form. Good solid technique is always the key when confronting heavier loads. Get a spotter and have them analyze your form. Whatever you do, don’t panic. Panicking will only raise your stress level and hinder your ability to stay focus. If your anxiety rises, you will more than likely sacrifice your form and miss the lift or worse, hurt yourself.
With the fast pace high intensity WODs, you are learning to work with being uncomfortable. Same on your strength day, but the discomfort is different. For the metcon WODs, the discomfort is learning to work while your are near exhaustion while on strength days, you must learn to lift when you are have doubt. This is the number one challenge with you begin to add more resistance than you normally can handle.
Understand that after each successfully heavy set, you are getting stronger and building more muscle on your body. But, more importantly you are overcoming fear and learning how to be courageous. Confronting doubt is a huge aspect of becoming mentally tough.
When your insecurity rises today, treat it like the one of the movements.
Crush the fuck out of it.
Now go lift.
Scaled back version of this WOD –
1. Do three sets of three reps.
Acceptable alternatives –
1. You can dumbbells or a barbell for the bench press. Also, it is lifter’s choice if you want to use a flat or incline bench.