by Jeff Magner
Most everyone is familiar with CrossFit’s ten recognized fitness domains – speed, strength, power, agility, cardio/respiratory endurance, coordination, balance, stamina, flexibility, and accuracy. These are tangible, testable, and measurable elements of CrossFit that we all strive to improve each time we step into the gym. However, there is another aspect of CrossFit that is just as important – if not more so – than those ten domains above. It is not something that we can measure with times or repetitions completed, but is imperative to our success in training, testing, and competing. It is called TOUGHNESS. Toughness is a mental trait, not a physical one. It’s a mindset. It has nothing to do with how strong or powerful you are, or how many fights you got into as a youngster. Toughness is an intangible that separates average from good; good from great; and great from Hall-Of-Famer. Some may be innately blessed with more toughness than others, but it is also something that can be learned and improved with training, and a willingness to push yourself past limits you once thought impossible. Crossfit is the perfect training grounds to push those limits and become tougher than you ever thought possible – if you’re willing to risk failure and put ego aside. Being mentally tough means failing sometimes but learning from that and getting better each and every session.
Why was Michael Jordan the greatest of all time? Sure, he worked extremely hard and was physically gifted, but it was also because he was mentally tougher than everyone. He was willing to take and miss the final shot, and he was unrelenting in his pursuit to be his best. He would accept no excuses and willed himself and his teammates to victory time and time again. He would mentally break other players and teams down until they relented. Now, I understand not everyone is Michael Jordan but he is the best example of the benefits of becoming as mentally tough as possible in the gym and in life.
So, next time you are in the gym and you start telling yourself you’re too tired or just want to stop, do one more rep. Have the mindset that you will push YOUR limits and be unafraid of failure. When the initial shot of adrenaline is gone and you have to bear down and fight for every rep, that is when you build true toughness.
Now, to be clear I’m also not saying go out of the gate at 110% for a 20 minute AMRAP. Obviously there is some strategy needed for that type of longer effort and going to failure from the beginning will likely lead you down a rough path and early burnout….remember toughness is a mindset that puts ego aside and allows you to reach your full potential; which leads me to me next point…
NEVER use any negative self talk again. Everything you say to yourself at those toughest moments should be positive; “come on, one more rep” or “I will complete this.” Never allow yourself to quit and never cut reps or shortcut them in an attempt to get done faster. Cheating the number of reps or shorting the range of motion when you are fully capable is a clear sign of being mentally weak. Lastly, there is a huge difference between WANTING to quit because it hurts and NEEDING to rest because you have truly pushed yourself to the limit. Be honest with yourself and push past YOUR limits. There is nothing more satisfying than that.
Warm up well and get after Part A today.
A: Back Squat – wave load 6, 4, 2, 6, 4, 2; rest 2 minutes b/t sets.
10 Minutes at 80% effort
4 Wall Walks
6 High Box Jumps w/ step down
20 Double Unders