Workout Protocol #3 For Mental Toughness Development – The Barbell Complex Movements (part 2)

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Barbell complexes and jump roping is a vicious combination.

(In part 1 of this article, I introduced the third workout protocol that will be used in this mental toughness system – the barbell complex movements. Barbell complexes are a series of movements that you do without stopping. For you men and women out there that still love to do body part training, this system is right up your alley)

Since this mental toughness program is predicated on full-body workouts, barbell complex movements are fantastic for building over all muscle development because of this increased “time under tension” concept. This is especially important for those of you who are still somewhat obsessed with packing on muscle. Again, this is nothing to be ashamed about or to hide from. Having a great physique is a great goal to have. For me personally, when I made the changeover from bodybuilding work to conditioning training, the transition was extremely difficult, particularly my mental perception of myself. For about 20 years, my only goal was to get “big” so my biggest fear was that I would loss muscle mass as felt certain muscle groups would be under worked when I gave up single-body part training. In other words, I ridiculously thought I was going to shrink and shrivel up to a bag of bones. This was totally irrational on my part, but after years of force feeding and bulking up, I’m sure many of you will have the same fear. No need to worry. The barbell complex movements are very bodybuilding friendly with primary body part movements all bunched up into one giant set. They are an excellent transition for you to leave the single-body part training into the world of full-body workouts. I know some of my male clients prefer doing barbell complex movements for this particular reason as they slowly say good-bye to their traditional goal of building mass. The funny thing is that you don’t lose muscle while doing barbell complexes, but will build a more muscular body with less lard swishing around in your soft spots. The reason why complex barbell movements are so effective in helping you build muscle is that they type of training not only hit nearly every single muscle group in your body, but it focuses on your fast twitch muscles, your big muscles that grow the most. The more muscle being used during exercise will help release growth hormones in your body and at the same time, trigger the powerful EPOC effect that will put your body 48 hour fat burning zone.

When I say some of my clients prefer to do barbell complex movements, I don’t want to imply that they are easier to do than a CrossFit or Litvinov workout, they are not. Barbell Complex movements are very strenuous to do and they will tempt you to quit before the session is done. For this mental toughness program, I added a sadistic twist to the traditional barbell complex session to push the envelope even more in your psychological anguish. Like the Litvinov workout, following the barbell complex movement will be a quick explosive anaerobic movement as well. So after doing about two minutes and thirty seconds of strength training, you will be ask to drop the bar and do for example, a short sprint. The pairing of a strength movement with an anaerobic action will be jarring to your body and mind to say the least. By upping the ante with an extra 30 more seconds from the explosive action that pushes the total time under tension to be around 3 minutes for each barbell complex movement set. Three minutes may not seem like a long time, but under tension and stress, trust me, that’s a hell of lot of time. Your mind and body will be cursing and calling you all kinds of names to get you to stop. Not only will your heart be pounding, stomach turning, muscles quivering, but your mind will be spinning. Each of these feeling are unappealing, but the combination of all four of them together is what must not only hit you, but hit you hard all at once, in order for you to learn how to handle adversity.

With barbell complex movement training sessions, you’ll better be head strong because the waves and rushes of displeasure is coming right at you, from different angles throughout your body which the sole intention of getting you to fail in this mental toughness program. With barbell complex movement session, you will get immediately feedback on where you stand in your toughness development. Once the dousing of suffering begins, the temptation to quit will be great and your mind will be flooded with logical excuses to stop. For those who can’t take the variety of punishment, they will find a justification for not finishing the WOD. The weak minded always will come up with a reasonable answer to quit. After all, to the body or mind, there is nothing logical about having to bear physical and mental stress for three of the longest minutes of your life. Remember to be mentally tough you must at times have an illogical mind set. You must go against the grain of logic of quitting when the pain is on and instead do the unreasonable by absorbing the torment and keep on going. If you can then make it through this crucial mental benchmark, you can at least say for one day, you have in you to become mentally tougher.

But, I wouldn’t be counting your laurels if were you. This mental toughness program is loaded with barbell complex movement WODs that have been tactically designed to get in your head. Once that happens, is when the real test always begins.

Today’s barbell complex WOD –

6 sets of 5 reps each

1. Thrusters (squat to a press)

2. Good mornings

3. Bent over rows

4. Back squats

5. Barbell roll outs

One minute of jump roping

If you think the last barbell WOD was rough, this one’s going to be even worse. Adding the anaerobic aspect of jumping rope, just takes this barbell complex WOD to another level of misery. Your ability to endure the upcoming suffering will be tested here. After you do the complex movement and drop the bar, the sight of the jump rope will begin mind fucking you. Understand that it is coming and prepare yourself for it.

During the WOD, you must constantly remind yourself of one of the basic beliefs of being mentally tough – just  because the body is tired does not mean the mind is. The mind can summon the body to regenerate itself, even when the body is feeling at its weakest. In order to do this, the mind must rebel against the body when it is urging you to quit. Normally when the body is exhausted, the mind acquiesces to it and gives in. To be mentally tough, you must go against to what the body wishes. During the WOD repeat to yourself over and over that the mind is in control and not the body. It is the mind that decides to continue to go on or to give up. In order to do this your thoughts must be oppositional to how the body is feeling when it is most fatigued.  In other words, your thoughts must be the opposite of how the body is feeling. For example, whenever my body is feeling like it is about to collapse, I have contradicting thoughts like  – My legs are hurting, but my mind feels no pain…My body is feeling weak but my mind is getting strong….I don’t want to go on, but my mind will push me forward….

Also, I remind myself over and over throughout the WOD that “Just because the body is tired, does not mean the mind is.” By shifting the emphasis from the body to a more powerful energy source, a proactive mind can always re-energize a tired body. Does this mean, one can literally get stronger and faster when they have their energy zapped out of them? Sometimes yes, but most of the time no. Most likely you will feel most tired during the end of the WOD, so you will probably move slower and with less force, but what is important is that you didn’t quit and that you kept on going. By reversing your actions from almost giving up to finishing strong is the ultimate sign of toughness. This ability to mentally turnaround your energy level is what you are trying to achieve with this training. Continuing to fight when you are at the highest state of fatigue is in my opinion the greatest of strength. This is where I am trying to take you and where you must be in order for you to get over the worst of the worse adversities that you will face in life. In order to get to this harder to kill level, you must first learn to work when you are physically at your most weakest. In time, this mental toughness training will teach you how to transfer this feeling of invincibility to your personal life. But, for now you must discover the fighter in you with each WOD, especially when you are close to being knocked out.

With this brutal WOD, you will have more than the opportunity to going from feeling dead to feeling unstoppable. So prepare yourself with oppositional thoughts before you go into the WOD. The more connected you are with strong statements on how powerful the mind is regardless of how fatigue the body is, the more likely you will finish the workout with authority.

Prepare yourself for war and now go destroy the enemy.

Scaled back version of this WOD:

1. Omit the barbell row outs.

2. Do only the barbell complexes and omit the jump roping.

3. Do only 3 reps per movement.

Appropriate alternatives:

1. Run for a minute on the treadmill instead of jumping rope.


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