An athlete’s mentality is something that often gets overlooked when it comes to training. You can be a strong lifter or possess excellent aerobic capacity, but without the right mentality, you will never maximize your potential as an athlete.
We all want to be successful in our fitness endeavours. Whether you’re an elite CrossFitter or just someone who is serious about improving his/her fitness, we all desire to achieve something beyond our perceived capabilities. The question is, are we willing to put the work in?
If you still lack the mental fortitude, you’re not alone. I know I still have a long way to go in my training mentality. But here are a few tips that have helped me and hopefully will help you as well:
Nurture a Growth or Challenge Mindset
So let’s say today’s workout is a 25-minute AMRAP of thrusters and burpee box jump overs, and it so happens you don’t like long WODs! Naturally, you’ll feel the sensation of stress, and you’ll probably think of ways to coast through the workout. That, my friends, will not help you in any way.
Keep in mind that how you view something fundamentally changes how your body responds to it. Stress is something we always want to avoid. But if you have a “Growth Mindset,” meaning if you view stress as a prerequisite for growth, you will nurture a “Challenge Response,” which enables you to focus on what you can control, and what is performing well in your workout. This eventually causes negative emotions like fear and anxiety to decrease.
If you’re in a situation when you feel the sensation of stress, welcome it! Remind yourself that this is your body’s natural way of preparing for a challenge. Take a deep breath and channel this sensation to think about ways in which you can crush this workout. You’ll not only perform better, it will also strengthen your resolve.
Improve your Body Language
What is your body language when working out? Do you slouch when it starts to get heavy? Do you put your hands on your knees when you get tired? Do you walk away from the bar and rest for about 30 seconds before going right back in?
Look, we all hate pain and we all get tired (unless you’re Mat Fraser). But when you exhibit bad body language, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. It’s like having a defeated posture. If you just want to lose a few pounds, then that can work, but if you’re serious about your fitness goals, then you better get your body language right.
On your next workout, try to lessen the slouching and the knee-holding. Keep your chin up, get in a few deep breaths for about 5-10 seconds and stay in your workout area. Don’t turn your back on the bar! Do it gradually—I’m not expecting you to master it right away. If you are used to taking at least 30 seconds of rest, make it about 20-25 seconds, then take it from there. See how that improves your performance.
Do not Cherry-Pick Your Workouts
We are all guilty with this at one point. If you work out in an affiliate, you will probably skip those days when there are movements that are not in your liking. It’s even worse for athletes who work out in their home gyms or by themselves, as they can completely do the movements that they’re good at and scrap the ones they don’t like.
Oftentimes, it’s an issue of pride, as some athletes would not want to scale (although there’s nothing wrong with doing so). Sure, most of us hate long workouts that involve thrusters, toes-to-bars and ring dips. But if you want to improve your mentality, then there’s no going around it. Put your head down and go to work! Scale if you must, and continue putting the work in and eventually, you’ll be more efficient in those movements.
That’s about it. Remember, each burpee, each lift, each 100 meters that you run/row/swim is taking you closer to your goal of becoming the best athlete you can be. Get the mentality and you’ll achieve long-lasting gains not only in your fitness, but in the other aspects of your life as well.