Who You Are and What You Need: Part 3


This is the final part of a three part series on what to think about before you look for a new program. You can find part 1 here, and part 2 here.

3) The mind is primary

Let’s assume it’s possible to write the perfect training program for an athlete; exactly what is needed in exactly the right amount in order and amount, giving the greatest progress in the shortest amount of time – but the athlete thinks it’s boring, it’s ineffective, that they should be doing something else, adds in “extra” work, spends too much time on Instagram watches PR videos….

The perfect program is no longer perfect. Lack of commitment is poison and turns people into liars. “Yeah I’m recovering well” is really “I hate this and so I go home and eat like crap and play video games until 2am then when I come in and feel like dung I blame my coaches and the programming and my Nanos because I saw Mat Fraser snatch 315 wearing Nike Metcons and that must be my issue.”

If your head isn’t right, nothing else will be, either. The mind is primary.

Stop this foolishness and step up your mental game. Make your brain make your training work. You can only win. A dedicated mindset influences life inside and outside the gym because there is focus and focus brings efficient success.  When progress comes, you know you’re on the track toward the holy land of ultimate gains. You win.

If progress doesn’t come, you KNOW you have to change course. It’s not a guess or the incontrovertible “I just don’t feel like it’s working…..” You will have done everything in your power to make it work and it hasn’t. You have a new direction. You win.

But constantly second-guessing training is self-injury and will doom you to a life of fitness wandering and mindless internet forums. For example, people want to talk for years (and have) about whether 3 sets of 5 are better than 5 sets of 3. The truth is both work if you want them to, and neither will if you don’t.

I’m not saying belief is magical fairy dust. But people underestimate the power mental fitness wields over physical fitness.

We have a test called “Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day”:

50 Wall Balls 20/14
10 Burpees
400m Run
45 Power cleans 115/80
10 Burpees
400m Run
40 Thrusters 95/65
10 Burpees
400m Run

This workout reduces people to slop. After a few classes we started thinking about calling it “Poopy Pants” instead. It’s tough. Cool.

But here’s the twist: athletes do it every week for three weeks and are required to improve their score each time.

This is a beautiful test because it assesses everything other than physical fitness. A week is simply not long enough for large physiological adaptations – so how do you win? With your brain. Strategy, pacing, approach, acceptance, recovery.

Doing a tough workout once, that’s little league stuff. Doing a tough workout and knowing you’re going to get smashed with it again in 7 days, now you’ve got guts.

But doing a tough workout, and knowing you’re going to experience again, and again, and again and requiring of yourself to do better each time – even in the face of a score you know you can’t beat – that is next level stuff.

I’ve had people destroy themselves on their first time through it. Heaping piles of sweaty flesh. The second week they improved their scores by more than a minute. Yay. Happy. Way to go. But now what they’ve done with their accomplishment is raised the bar for themselves, and just a couple inches higher than what they think they can reach. This is opportunity.

Opportunity. If they improve their score each time – the ultimate feeling of victory over some pretty intense struggle. If they don’t – monumental disappointment because they’ve crushed themselves with something crazy and still lost.  One of these things will happen and they need to be ready to handle both.

Mental fitness is physical fitness. Physical fitness is mental fitness. They are the same – the ability to withstand struggle – using different tools. A left hand and a right hand. An easy way out is to divide these two and make them separate, but anyone who has been to a dark place in the middle of a workout know the only way out is a beautiful combination of the two.

Before you look for a new program, be sure you’re working on things in your head as much as you work on things in the gym.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s