7 Ways to Improve Mental Toughness In and Out of The Gym

Mental toughness. It can make or break your progress. When you’ve been training for a while, you know the feeling going though mental and physical peaks and valleys. Some weeks your dialed in, all your lifts are going up and you feel great. Other weeks you might feel unmotivated with your progress and start feel the slow IV drip of complacency kick in.

When that starts to hit you, it’s important to shake that shit immediately. What you do when you don’t feel like training or eating right is ultimately what shows what kind of guy you are. Anyone can keep training when things are great, but who shows up when you don’t feel like it. The sloth or the beast?

It’s funny how it works. Some of the biggest successes I’ve had in business and in life came at times where I was totally focused and dialed in on the iron…and that’s not a coincidence. You may have had similar experiences.

If you’re focused on getting physically stronger, you’re mind and spirit will follow. You start saying ‘NO’ to the the things that detract from your goals which just puts you even further ahead of the game.

Win in the gym, win in life. If you start to become okay with simply being okay in the gym, your life goals will follow suit.

Here’s 7 ways you can start pushing the envelope in the gym (even if you don’t feel like training) which will provide a spark in your mental game and help you get beast out on your goals in and out of the gym.

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  1. Train outside. I will tell you, this is BY FAR my favorite place to train. Yep, more than my gym. It clears my head. I get to look at the sky, the birds, the clouds while listening to motivational audio clips. If you haven’t figured it out by now. jumping rope sprints are a staple in my own training, but you can do kettlebell circuits, farmer carries, or even drag your weight plates and bars outside. Whatever works. There is absolutely nothing like training at 1pm outside in the humid Jersey heat.
  2. Focus on what your good at, but don’t just use those exercise. Comfort kills. Growth ONLY occurs when we do things that make us uncomfortable. 10 years ago, I would have laughed in your face if you told me I would be training with kettlebells, sandbags, sleds, or even jumping rope. But, since they usually give me a hard time, I now focus all my conditioning around them. Just when you think you get better at training with them there’s little tweaks that make the workouts brutal again.
  3. Use positive (yet harsh) verbal re-enforcement. Yep…talk to yourself. Tell yourself you’re unstoppable. Call yourself a beast. Scream it out. Whisper it to yourself. Tell yourself to stop being a pussy and get that last sled push. Whatever it takes. It’s amazing what happens when you start talking to yourself. You mindset will go through this process where it may feel weird at first to talk to yourself like this…keep doing it. After a few times, your voice (internal or external) will get stronger and more confident. Your posture and form will tighten up and you WILL get those last few reps with conviction. Try it.
  4. Train with and bounce ideas off guys bigger and stronger than you. If you’re the biggest, baddest guy in the gym, time to find a new one. At that point you probably like the ego trip more than you like making gains. You’re only going to get as strong as the guys you train with. If they’re weaker than you, good luck getting stronger – and if you do, I’m sure you’d get there faster if you we’re the little guy again.
  5. Give yourself a time limit to train. I like this more for conditioning, but it works for strength workouts too. If you’re lifting, get in and out in 60 minutes (including your warm up). If training more than 60 minutes, your making friends not gains. Stop running your mouth (unless of course you’re using number 3). Stop taking 7 minute breaks in between sets. Stop trying to max out every single workout and do your damn prescribed reps. If your doing conditioning, keep it between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the intensity of the session and how much time you have to train. I’ve done 12 minute conditioning workouts that DESTROYED me, and I’ve done 30 minute conditioning sessions that workout left me feeling great. It’s all in what you do and how hard you go. Remember, intensity is KEY.
  6. Make sure you’re fueling your workouts properly. It’s always a good idea to get some amino acids, carbs, vitamins and minerals in your system before and after you train to push the envelope a little further in your sessions…especially if you’re training outside. You should be fueling your body with proper nutrients before and after you train for energy production and to jump start the recovery process, and during your workout to stay hydrated. Just make sure you’re getting quality ingredients that will not only give you the energy to give your all during your positive self-talk and keep you from burning out and help you maintain your focus while getting your workout in the allotted amount of time you set for yourself.
  7. Do what is necessary to achieve the goals you set for yourself. There is NO EXCUSE to not get some type of workout in. Sometimes it can’t be the one you have planned…so what should you do? That is up to you. I can’t tell you one way or the other…but what I do know is that guys that do what is necessary regardless of the equipment they have access to or the time they have to train come out on top simply because they are not excuse makers. 3 sets of max pull ups is better than 1 set of push ups, and 1 set of max push ups is better than doing nothing. Just. Do. Something. Keep it intense, and while you’re at it, tell yourself you’re unstoppable. Your 1 set of push ups might turn into 10 sets. But that’s entirely up to you.

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