When thinking about your workout, you usually gauge strength in terms of how much weight you’re moving, right? That’s going to tell me how “strong” I am…well, yes and no. There are multiple facets of strength that we train on a daily basis and the physical aspect might be the smallest part of it all.
WHAT IS MENTAL STRENGTH
I think mental strength is the biggest “muscle” that you build at Swamp Rabbit CrossFit. I think of mental strength as a marriage of mental acuity and mental toughness.
Mental acuity is sharpness of the mind. Things considered in determining a person’s mental acuity are memory, focus, concentration, and understanding. Being able to lock onto the task at hand and remember how to properly execute a power snatch at minute 19 of a 20 minute AMRAP takes some serious mental acuity. So does properly pacing a tough workout like our signature WOD “SRCF”.
Mental toughness means having the grit to push through challenges that seem impossible. The best athletes in the world have to have huge amounts of mental toughness. You can build up your mental toughness by doing difficult training or putting yourself into difficult competitive situations in games. The mentally tough emerge from the forge with greater confidence in their ability to overcome adversity and take on the next challenge.
We don’t always understand the value and importance of mental strength. In a workout, your mind can often play tricks on you. It might tell you to go put excessively heavy weights on the bar before your body is ready because other people in the room are doing it. It might even tell you to quit you before your body reaches peak performance because daily training is too difficult. Mental strength is what can get you through that long, stressful day, after you’ve been up all night with a crying baby, or even the next time we do 16.5.
So, Rabbits, today we will dive into a better understanding of MENTAL STRENGTH!
HOW TO BUILD MENTAL STRENGTH
Every single one of us can benefit from increasing our mental strength capacity, when it comes to our daily WODs. It is all too easy to focus on what other people are doing, and forget that we need to dig deep to achieve our personal daily objective. The goal of our training program is to go hard, and then to be able to come back tomorrow and pick up that bar or run that 1600. We make real physical improvements by training over long periods of time. Part of improving your mental strength is training your mind to focus on proper form and biomechanics while maintaining high intensity levels and not getting caught up on how much “stronger” your neighbor is because she’s using more weight than you. Physical strength grows because of the mental strength used to build a solid CrossFit foundation.
Mental strength gains often come from properly identifying tasks or goals and taking small steps achieve them. These tasks can change each day and don’t always have to be WOD related. For some of us, the biggest task is finding the time to get to the gym and workout and then mentally preparing for what our daily grind has in store. We can build mental strength during workouts, creating small goals and using the one more rep mentality to help you to continue grinding out those reps during a tough WOD. Show up consistently, use the proper form and technique, and always give 100%.
OUTSIDE OF THE GYM
For work and everyday life, continue the use of the “one rep mentality.” Start by making a list and check each item off, just like moving through a WOD. Don’t start twenty different things and not get anything finished; persevere, do a single task to completion before moving on to the next. I promise the sense of accomplishment will be there and you will be more motivated to continue until everything is complete, even if you do the same tasks, over and over, day after day. Don’t forget the importance of being on time and taking care of those people you are responsible for (i.e. work team, kids, PTA, soccer team, etc). Successful and happy people lead by example – your kids, your assistant, your friends are watching you – give them the right tools to do the same. Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop, breathe, and take that break; getting five to 10 minutes of silent time may be all you need to re-evaluate, re-establish, and recharge.
My biggest fear for our athletes is that they will be put in a life threatening situation. Whether it be a car accident, house fire, or a threat of physical harm, I want all of our athletes prepared to act in the situation and make it out alive. Our athletes might leave with pain, injuries, or visible wounds, but because of building a strong Head Game they will live to see another day. As you can see, improving our mental strength capacity, has far reaching effects.
Life is hard. Every single one of us needs to be mentally and physically prepared to deal with whatever challenge it puts in our way. CrossFit’s bedrock is functional fitness which allows us to keep our bodies strong, but it also forces us to focus on and build our mental strength. Through CrossFit, we are working towards improvement in both our physical and mental strength; in other words, we are getting better at LIFE.