Advice / 2 weeks ago
Advice / 5 months ago
There is no Silver Bullet
As I am sure you are all aware, the training during mental week was slightly different to how we
normally do things. The workouts were weird, they weren’t up on BTWB on the Sunday eve as
usual, and most never made it up at all. It is very easy to adjust efforts in a workout because
your lungs are burning or your legs are tired. However the root of all of this is our mental game,
and the mental week was designed to help you identify some areas of focus.
If you haven’t already, I would suggest reading the blog article entitled, ‘Not for everyone, but for
anybody’. If you have, carry on. So, this last week was designed to test and expose your mental
fortitude. Mondays workout, an 8k row with 8 burpees EMOM was designed to be impossible.
You weren’t allowed to scale the number of burpees and you didn’t know there was a time cap
until your coach told you the workout was done. An impossible task. It was interesting to see
who reduced the burpees, who reduced the rounds, who had rest periods etc, and who just
ended up doing burpees for 30 minutes. We didn’t even encourage you. No one managed 8km,
that was not the test. Ask yourself, did you do as prescribed, or did you try to adjust the workout
in your favour to meet the whiteboarded 8km goal? If you ended up doing burpees for half an
hour, good job, you probably cried after, but you did it!
Tuesday, wall ball workout, created a fear of the floor, and to exhaust the legs for the walking
lunge. We deliberately capped the workout to stop you from finishing, unless you were willing to
go literally as fast as you can, not knowing the was or wasn’t a cap, but a workout that needed
doing. The walking lunges was just a brick wall to smash through as a treat at the end. How did
you react to the floor rule? How did you react to the time cap, when you were only a few reps off
finishing? How did you react to the long, slow boring leg grinder at the end?
Wednesday, we had an hour long “warm up”, which in reality was our regular warm up routine,
with a workout, we just didn’t call it that. Thursday we did the workout that was posted on
Tuesday, and Friday, each class did a different variation of the same workout. A workout without
a name, or even calling it a workout, how did that affect you? Doing a different workout to a
another class? Did you do more or less reps? Did that matter to you? How did you find the lack
of the BTWB use?
The purpose of all of this was for us as coaches to test your mental strength and for you to
evaluate where your mental weaknesses are. CrossFit is mainly mental fortitude. Not fortitude in
the sense that you can just destroy yourself and keep going, but having the grit, determination
and awareness to identify the purpose of the workout, and work in such a way to gain the
intended benefit of that workout. The presence of mind to do your movements properly, even if it
means less weight. We are returning to using a goal time our our future workouts. If the workout
goal is 10 minutes and you do it in 3, you my friend, have missed the benefit of that workout.
Our mental state is what decides how much we benefit from our training, not so much the
training itself. There is no silver bullet to fitness, but if there were, it would be between your
Ben Bergeron said that if he had the choice between training a world class athlete with the
natural physical ability, or one with a strong mental game, he would choose the athlete with the
natural physical talent every time. His reasoning is that mental strength can be trained, honed
and developed. To take an athlete with great physical potential, and to fortify that with a solid
mind, that is the key to creating people like Katrín Davíðsdóttir and Matt Fraser.
We focus plenty in the gym on physical training, that is what we are. A strength and training
facility. We are set up to make you fit, healthy and capable of dealing with whatever life
physically throws at you. The multiplier to this is your mental resilience. Think about how you
reacted to some of the workouts this week. Did you think to yourself, that workout was
impossible, did you curse it (or me 😉 ), did you give up your effort half way through. Did you
scale the burpees to try and hit that 8k row? Or did you look at the workout, accept it, then hit it
as hard as you could. Grit. Determination. Integrity. This is the key. Evaluate last week to see
what your natural reaction was. Many people have commented on Fraser and Froning. Final
workout of the 2014 games. They already had shot grip from the previous workout, but were
now told they had to do Grace, 30 x Clean & Jerks at 60kg. Just before they started, they were
told they were to double the reps. They didn’t look at each other. They didn’t give Castro evils
(Sam had a few of those on the Monday), they didnt do anything. The accepted the workout with
a nod, and got on with it.
I know for myself, my mental game is what holds me back from reaching my potential. It isn’t my
programming, it isn’t my nutrition, it isn’t my mobility, it isn’t my genetics. All of these things have
tremendous roles to play in physical performance, but the mind is powerful beyond all of these
other variables. If I am not getting fitter, I need to be honest with myself as to why. Harness the
mind, and everything else will follow.