TRAINING FOR MENTAL TOUGHNESS
Let’s face it, most of us are exercising for our physical goals, and that makes sense. However, so much more can come from training. There seems to be something missing, and that is training for mental toughness. You can become the strongest, or the fittest individual, but if you are mentally weak, how will you deal with what life throws at you? Yes, that is what this is about: training for life.
You have to realize, when you decide to train with mental toughness as a priority, you will be your worst enemy. You are going to have to curve your thought process. Most throughout the day will mentally drain themselves procrastinating or finding excuses on why they can miss their mentally challenging training session. An excuse is an excuse! There may be legitimate reason for missing a workout, but do not use your age, time, how tired you are, how sore you are etc. In fact, when you complete a miserable workout at your lowest, most tired point, that is when you will get the most mental strength out of it. Your mind can get you to do inconceivable things.
Just as you train your muscles to get stronger, so you must train your will, or perseverance to get stronger. And guess what? One of the best ways to activate your will is to workout. Your mind will give up sooner than your body; it is the weak point. Create a strong will, and you will do more than you thought you could.
Now the cool thing about this is, becoming mentally tough in the gym will translate over to your daily life. You shouldn’t think of your strength by only what you can do in the gym. Just as you activate your will in the gym, you will activate your will outside of the gym. If your will becomes relentless in the gym, it will become relentless outside the gym. It is indifferent to the situation, whether it’s setting a PR in the gym, or facing a life threatening situation, it will bring forth the full fury of your mental strength to face it. You must let your will do the same thing for either situation; be relentless and overcome the mess you are in. By training your will often in the gym it will become readily available to be called on at all times.
So how do we train for mental strength? It’s not easy, and sacrifices must be made. You have to be prepared to do what is uncomfortable for you, and develop extreme discipline. Instant gratification will have to be delayed with your mind set on the future reward. Separate yourself from the weak general population who disregard the future reward for instant satisfaction.
This is practiced in the gym and outside; someone who overeats disregards the future, an addict disregards the future, someone who stays in their comfort zone in training disregards the future.
What kind of training does it take? The good thing is you don’t have to scrap your regular training protocol. You can just add at least one mental strength training session a week in. They are not long either, maybe as short as 3 minutes, but they are very mentally challenging. Here are some examples:
- 8 for 15: Grab an 8 rep squat weight, and don’t rack it until you have gotten 15. Rest only by standing there with the bar on your back.
- 12 for 20: Pick a weight you normally use for 12 on squat and don’t rack it until you get 20.
- 3-2-1 back squats: With 35-50% of max, squat as many reps as you can in 3 minutes without racking the weight. Take 2 minutes of break, then do as many reps again as you can in 2 minutes, take a 1 minute break, then do as many reps as you can in 1 minute.
- Pushup + prowler: 20 pushups and then prowler push, only take 5 deep breaths between each, keep going until you drop below 10 pushups, or you can no longer move the prowler.
- Front squats + prowler: Do a heavy set of 6 reps, go right into the prowler, 3 times through no rest.
- Tire flips + sledge hammer: Tire flips down and back, right into 15 sledge hammer hits, 3 sets no rest.
Those are just some examples of mentally challenging routines that you can do anytime. At first try to do something like this once a week. You can do your own thing, just make sure it challenges you mentally. They will be hard, but once you can knock these out by keeping your mind energized while your body wants to give up, then you are on your way to becoming mentally tough.
“The weight room is a place where the trials never end. It is the place where we test ourselves continuously. We struggle to reach one goal and, as soon as we reach it, there is another and more difficult one to meet.” -Dave Tate, Founder & CEO of Elite Fitness Systems.
A challenge: If you see me in the gym and I am not busy, you can challenge me to do one of these, right then and there. However, you will have to do it with me. It’s only fair, right?