What’s your training program look like?
Does it address your needs, by which I mean does it get you closer to your end goal and rid you of any current limitations you’re struggling with (i.e. mobility restrictions, lack of power in a plane of movement, etc)?
I’ll forget for a moment that whether or not a training program is “good” shouldn’t influence how much better you get because of it.
You’ve all heard the old adage; a mediocre program done to the T is far better than the best program in the world done sparingly.
Even if a program sucks, you have no excuse not to still get better. The iron can move just as fast whether Eric Cressey (the guys wicked smaht) or some bro-scientist writes my program. It’s about intent, and it’s about training with a purpose as Greg Robins says.
But I digress.
You should for all intents and purposes try and get the best training program out there for you. That means you were assessed, your weaknesses and limitations were exposed, and the program will create systems to not only address these weaknesses but to maximize the adaptations necessary to succeed in your sport or training goal.
If you want to throw a fastball 95 mph, your training should reflect this goal, and that doesn’t mean running miles with your cross-country brethren. If you want to be the star running back on your high school team next fall, you and the squat rack should become best friends.
Adaptations need to be goal specific.
My job requires me to throw a baseball 60 feet 6 inches. If I’m doing my job well, I don’t run. If I’m doing my job terribly, I may run 120 feet at most. Recovery between pitches isn’t an issue. Even if I’m getting lit (baseball lingo for pitching very poorly) and I’m running all over the ballpark, the shortstop will notice I’m winded, come to the mound, and we’ll bullshit about the pretty girl in section 4 until I have my breath back.
Creating adequate systems for physical adaptations is great. It’s important, it helps to build better athletes, but it won’t build complete athletes or individuals.
If you want to be complete, you need to train past your adaptation requirements. You need to look beyond the physical and enter a realm of discomfort.
You need to start to train your mind and to do this you must sometimes put aside what is required of you in your sport.
I could come into spring training as the most physically prepared player and not suffer one time this off-season. Sure, high rep squats are not enjoyable by any means, but it does not equate to suffering. 10 reps is brutal, I hate it, but I don’t care how heavy it is, it’s still not enough to push you past the brink of physical exhaustion. It is not enough to start fatiguing the mind. It does not coerce that little voice of resistance in your mind to start getting louder and louder until you are all but forced to quit.
Your mind is a different animal.
It will continually seek the path of least resistance. It is evolutionarily programmed to seek comfort and to avoid pain, whether physical or mental, at all costs.
I’m telling you if you want to become complete, both in athletics and in life, you need to train your mind. You need to override your instinct for comfort. You must learn to thrive in discomfort.
How much you squat is relevant, but I want to know how strong your mind is. What will it take to break you? Are you willing to suffer in order to be great?
Again, I’m not just talking about the suffering that comes with straining under weight. I’m talking about the kind of suffering that causes every cell in your body to want to quit and give up and your mind is strong enough to tell your body to shut the f*** up, I’m not quitting. I will die before I quit.
Because one day, whether it’s next week or five years from now, life is going to deliver a knockout blow. In this instance, whether or not you are still an athlete ceases to be relevant.
It’s an unfortunate reality of being human. Yours may very well be something like a torn rotator cuff that threatens to end your career and sends you reeling, searching for another livelihood to support your family. It may be a cancer diagnosis, or even a family member relapsing back into drugs.
If all you concern yourself with is how strong your physical body is, when these knockout blows come, you will fail. The gravity of the situation will consume you. You will get knocked down and you will stay there.
The little voice in your head, the resistance, which has told you your whole life to quit when you’re uncomfortable, is going to be loud. It’s going to be uncontrollable. You will listen to it, not because your body is not strong, but because your mind is weak. It has no spine; it has no desire to traverse the rough seas ahead.
So how do you forge an iron mind?
Start by being uncomfortable. Mediocrity, the resistance, starts and end with comfort. Acknowledge beforehand that training your mind will be excruciatingly miserable. If it does not make you want to quit, you’re not doing it right.
Run 100 sprints on the beach in the dead heat. See how long it takes you to do 1000 bodyweight squats. Do hip thrusts with 225 pounds until your can’t feel your ass anymore and then do five more reps.
Do something in life that you are absolutely terrified of, whether it be public speaking, conquering your fear of heights, or whatever else you’ve been running from your whole life. Start using fear as your guide, not of what to avoid, but of what you must start doing.
Your body can do a lot more than you think. Push it to the point of failure. Stop, not when your mind tells you to, because it will early and often, but when your body physically can do no more.
Train long enough and you will start to develop calluses on your hands. Beautiful. I’m after developing calluses on your mind. I want you to suffer, to go through hell, and come out still standing.
This type of training, if you choose to undergo it, will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
If you’re only training the physical, then I honestly believe your training lacks substance. It lives in the realm of the superficial. It develops muscles, not strength. Your back may be strong, but it lacks the spine to hold the weight of the world on your shoulders. It can take a punch, but not a heavyweight blow.
Train your mind.
You will feel a new, bold, more alive even. We are not really living when we hang out in the comfort of the status quo. Embrace your fear and start to thrive being uncomfortable.
You won’t throw any harder or run any faster but I guarantee your performance improves. Pressure will not faze you and adversity will be just another obstacle in your way.
You will have already voluntarily suffered beyond reprieve. Your mind will be conditioned to handle whatever life could possibly throw at you. You will still get knocked down. Heavyweight blows knock down even the strongest of will. But champions, those with a mind forged by iron, get up.
You will become unbreakable. You will be complete.
P.S. I plan on doing a full review here soon but Mike Cernovich of Danger & Play wrote a game changing book that gives you plenty of tools to change your mindset and change your life. Check out Gorilla Mindset.
P.P.S. Show Me Strength contributor Pat Davidson has created a monster of a program called MASS. It embodies everything that I discuss in this post and will challenge you unlike ever before. Designed for the 1% by the 1%. Enter Operation Drago: MASS