Workout Protocol #1 For Mental Toughness Development – CrossFit (part 1)

crossfit-logoWhen I stopped doing individual body part training and long cardio sessions, I started to make very noticeable improvement on my body composition. I transformed myself from bodybuilder to strength and conditioning athlete. Once, I began to see changes in my physical conditioning, I became obsessed with challenging workouts. I would scour the Internet for the toughest exercises.  I tried a lot of these self-proclaimed hardest workouts, but nothing was tougher than the four strength and conditioning workouts system that I chose for this mental toughness system.

I chose the following protocols because they will teach you how to overcome extreme challenges in order to develop the mental ability you need to accomplish the tasks at hand. The workouts of the day will be mental and physical tests for you to triumph over. Each WOD will be a fierce pain in the ass, but the rewards will be great.

Another reason why I picked these 4 workout systems is that they really fuck with your head. As the time gets closer to doing each WOD, your mind will come up with a billion excuses to not do the workout. Most of them will probably be valid reasons too. This is exactly the mind games that is needed for you to become mentally stronger. A huge part of becoming mentally stronger in life is doing the things that you don’t want to do. This is the daily test that you must confront everyday with this training and this is where most people fail at. Those that are average in life just can’t get themselves out the comfort zone. If you want to be mentally tough, you must learn to suck it up and do what it takes, no matter if you like it or not.

As you begin to see the benefits from this training, you will still whine about the difficulties of the WODs, but your gripes will lessen. The passion you will have will create a mindset that views each WOD as a unique challenge in and itself. When given the opportunity, those that are truly mentally tough will never pass at the chance to do something extraordinary. My goal for you is to experience this great sense of accomplishment many times over in your life . This all begins with the habit of doing things you don’t want to do like doing the WODs.

The only time I will tell you not to do a WOD or stop a WOD during a training session, is if you are feeling any structural damage in your body.  If at any time, any workout is causing you serious pain, you must stop.  I want you to train hard and smart. Listen to your body if something doesn’t seem quite right. Also, if you ever have any form of injury, I would advise you to take some time off to allow your body to heal.

Workout Protocol #1 – CrossFit

The first workout protocol that will be heavily used in this mental toughness site is CrossFit. As I said in a earlier post, I have a love-hate relationship with CrossFit. Although I give CrossFit all the credit with helping me discover my mental toughness capabilities, I have major issues with the current trend of where CrossFit is headed. I’ll save my criticism on a later post, but for now, I don’t want to bias you as their still a lot of great things about CrossFit.

CrossFit workouts are one of the most popular working out regimens in the world right now, with gym locations appearing all over the globe. Military and law enforcement agencies are adapting CrossFit workouts to their training because the program is based on functional athletic movements executed at very high intensities. The emphasis is on full-body movements without fancy machines or isolation movements. Athletes from all over the world post their times to finish these workouts on the main crossfit.com website.

The advantage of these workouts is that they should take less than 30 minutes to complete. Most of the CrossFit workouts I choose for this site, can be done with just your body weight and you can do them at a commercial gym, your home or a park. The downfall of CrossFit training is that these workouts are highly demanding on the body and mentally straining. So basically, CrossFit is the perfect workout system for mental toughness training.

Many of the workouts are named after deceased military officers and are called the fallen warrior workouts. Other routines are named after girls. When Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, was asked why some of the WODs are named after girls, he expressed it best: “I want to explain the workout once and then give it a name. I thought that anything that left you flat on your back, looking up at the sky asking ‘what just happened to me?’ deserved a female name.”

When you do CrossFit, get used to lying on your back, drenched in sweat, looking up at the ceiling and trying your best to slow down your racing heartbeat. This is the most common position of participants in your typical CrossFit class when the WOD is done. Both newbies as well as veteran CrossFitters often feel too exhausted to get up and just consider themselves grateful to still be alive from a workout that damn near killed you.

If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, well it shouldn’t. But, there is a purpose behind the CrossFit madness of the roughest workouts ever. The goal of CrossFit is not to test your near-death threshold, but to get you mentally and physically stronger. When it comes to intensity, there is nothing that can match these workouts, especially when compared to traditional body-part workouts.  The consensus from CrossFitters is that the former mainstream routines that we used to do now feel like a waste of time or even a joke. I’m sure a lot of you may think this last statement as CrossFit arrogance, but let me give you a different perspective of how a CrossFitter views life. The typical psyche of a CrossFitter is that everything else feels easy when compared to CrossFit. You can take this statement and apply it to conventional workouts, but expand it to the adversities we face outside of the gym. Yes, the concept behind this mental toughness program is to make the training so fucken hard so that the real adversities you face will seem easy to overcome by comparison.

(End of Part 1)

Today’ WOD is a classic CrossFit one:

“Cindy”

20 minutes of as many rounds as possible:

5 pull-ups

10 push-ups

15 squats

“Cindy” is one of the most popular CrossFit workouts because you can do it at your girlfriend’s home, a gym, Iraq, anywhere. It is also one of the toughest bodyweight workouts ever and it will test your resolve. Make sure you go into this WOD with the sole intention of becoming mentally tougher. “Cindy” will work your biceps, chest and legs, but your concern isn’t about getting all ripped up from this WOD. It’s about coming out the WOD being mentally stronger than before you started the workout.

When you start off with “Cindy” it will seem very easy. After a couple of rounds, you’ll cruise through the workout and will wonder what this CrossFit fuss is all about. But, by your fifth minute, it will immediately feel like a tire iron has blind-sided you.  Your whole body will suddenly ache and you will feel a rush of exhaustion. I warning you all – this overwhelming feeling of wanting to collapse will happen without any warning. When the body is about to give in to the rush of whole-body fatigue, you must bring the mind to the rescue. The more aggressive your thoughts, the more likely you will beat out “Cindy.” Example of aggressive thoughts that lead to action can be “I am unstoppable. I will not quit…..I will plow through this workout no matter what….I am tired, but my mind will lead me to finish this WOD….I refused to let “Cindy” beat me. I will go! Again, these are example thought patterns that I have when I facing “Cindy.” Use whatever thoughts you have to motivate you go on instead of quitting.

Power yourself through “Cindy” with a mind that is relentless and uncompromising to any notion of giving up. Focus on completing one task at a time with an aggressive attitude of refusing to quit, no matter how much the pain is taking over your body. The challenge is to rest as little as possible between rounds.  Whatever you do, avoid looking at the clock as much possible as it will cause you to more mental turmoil. The 20 minute countdown to the end of the workout will seem to move strangely slow, especially when yours thighs are quivering and your drench in sweat. No matter how much you pray or keep looking at the clock, it will not speed up the misery that you will be in. What will save you from the punishment that “Cindy” will dish out at you, is your unyielding will to out duel her. You have two choices – either you can passively sit it out and let the clock tick down or you can battle this tough broad with aggressive actions as you drive through the many pull-ups, push-ups and squats.  If you chose to be the fighter, go down swinging. Don’t stop moving till the time is over. 20 minutes of battling and you will have accomplish one of the most intense workouts on this site.

Scaled back versions for this WOD:

  1. Use a Woody Flex Band for the assisted pull-ups or do inverted rows instead of the pull-ups, Here’s a great tutoral: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Hg-rCJwDY
  2. Omit the pull-ups
  3. Do the pushups from off your knees
  4. An alternate reps scheme can be 3 pull-ups, 5 pushups and 8 air squats
  5. Perform the workout in ten minutes

Make any changes to the WOD that suits your current fitness needs or combined as many different adjustments as needed.

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