09 May 2019 - Improving your Mental Strength: Three Ways to Improve your Mindset & Develop your Mental Strength

We’ve told you the “What” of Mental Strength and Mindset,
now it’s time to learn the “How”…

If you read Part 1 of this blog series, you will know that there are two types of mindset: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

In a Fixed Mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that it is not effort, but that talent alone creates success. So, if you are bad at something, that's just the way it is and will always be.

In a Growth Mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Through a growth mindset anything is possible. Those with this outlook have a desire to learn and as such embrace a challenge and persist despite setbacks. Failures and mistakes are seen as an opportunity to learn and grow and they seek out feedback from others in order to improve.

As you might have guessed, developing a Growth Mindset is much more conducive to improving your mental strength, but what do you do if, having answered the four questions we posed in our last blog, you were squarely in the Fixed Mindset camp?

Exactly what you do every day at the box… you train to improve!

Three Ways to Improve your Mindset & Mental Strength

1) Flip The Script

“I can’t do a pull-up.”
“I hate rowing WODs.”
“I’m awful at olympic lifting.”
“I’ll never PB my back squat.”

These are just a few examples of Negative Self Talk and this. shit. is. toxic.

Whether you say these phrases out loud, think them quietly to yourself, or express them through your body language (shaking your head before you lift or frowning when you see a WOD posted), negative self talk is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you tell yourself it’s not going to happen, it probably won’t happen. If you say that you hate a rowing WOD, you’re not going to enjoy the WOD, and if you believe that you’re awful at olympic lifting, your snatch will never improve, no matter how hard you work on it.

It’s time to Flip the Script and transform your negative self talk into positive beliefs and affirmations.

The first step is to raise awareness. How do you react when a WOD is posted that you know isn’t in your wheelhouse? What thoughts go through your mind when you’re approaching a bar loaded with a challenging weight? What do you say to yourself when you leave the gym, after a WOD that didn’t go well?

Once you know when and how negative self-talk creeps into your training, you can begin to flip the script, using one of two techniques. The first is to completely transform how you talk about a previously negative situation, also known as Situational Self-Talk. When you see running in a workout, do you normally say: “I hate running, I’m so slow and I always finish last”? Then, flip the script. Instead tell yourself, “I enjoy running, I will push myself and give it my best effort, regardless of when I finish”. Every time you have to run in a workout, repeat this positive affirmation. At first, it might seem false and forced, but the more frequently you say it, the more real it will start to feel and eventually, become!

The second method is to channel the “Power of Yet”. This is the easiest way to flip the script, especially if you’re struggling to break the habit of negative self-talk. Next time you find yourself filling your head with “I can’t”, simply add “yet” to the end of the sentence. Instead of saying “I can't run quickly”, tell yourself “I can't run that quickly, yet,”or instead of “I will never be able to lift that weight”, say “I can't lift it, yet”. This simple, three letter word gives your negative statements the potential to be positive, and that potential is an incredibly powerful tool that will motivate you to continue working towards your goal.

2) Be Short-Sighted

Long term goals are excellent. They give direction, drive and incentive to your training. However, sometimes when setting long term goals, you can end up focusing too much on the big picture, getting bogged down in what you can’t do and how far away achieving your goal seems to be.

For example, an athlete sets a goal to get a strict pull up. They then attempt a strict pull up and find that they can barely hang from the rig. A strict pull-up suddenly becomes a distant and unattainable target. The athlete gets de-motivated and quits before they’ve ever really started.

What this athlete didn’t do is focus on what they can do right now: farmer’s carries, ring rows, active hangs, setting a target to do pull-up accessory work three times per week. These are all small, short term goals that they could achieve in the present.

The next time you come up against a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, or set a goal that upon first glance appears like it can never be achieved, ask yourself: What can you do right now? Focus on the little things, the challenges you can tackle today, and as you tick off these little things, the big things will get smaller and smaller and get closer to your reach.

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
— Michael Jordan

3) Embrace Failure

A large part of developing a Growth Mindset and improving your mental strength is your ability to embrace failure. If you never fail at anything, chances are you are operating well within your comfort zone, and we know that progress lies at the margins of our experience.

When we fail we are presented with opportunities to learn:

What went well?
What did not go so well?
What would I change if I did this again?
How could I do even better next time?

In your training, if you have never missed a lift, never failed to finish a workout in the time cap or never finished last on the leaderboard, then you may not be trying your utmost to succeed. We are not saying you should ALWAYS be missing lifts or failing workouts (after all we have a workout stimulus to achieve); however once in a while you should give yourself the opportunity to push your boundaries and see what your body (and mind!) are actually capable of.


A) Conditioning: Interval Weight Training
Every 4 minutes for 12 minutes:
10 Power snatch @ challenging load for unbroken
400m Run

- 3-5 minute rest -

Every 4 minutes for 12 minutes:
10 Overhead squat @ challenging load for unbroken
1 minute for max double unders
* Rest 1 minute between rounds

C) Accessory
4-6 sets for quality:
10 strict toes to bar
30 sec hollow hold
30 sec arch hold