Mental Toughness Training

By Chris Martinez

July. 31. 2011-

I love training and building up my physique. This is something I have made a huge part of my life the past 5 years and I don’t ever see myself stopping. I’ve found a passion that makes me happy, feel good, want to work harder in every aspect of life, but most importantly it has taught me mental toughness.

A good majority of you know that I lost my father to a car accident eight years ago. For those of you that don’t know, this was a huge loss for my family and I. This tragedy left us confused with what the future had in store for us.

That day we lost our father was a day we lost a piece of our family and we knew it would never be repaired. Though I could have fallen between the cracks and said “F*%K life!” I went the opposite way and took my anger out in the weight room! Don’t get me wrong here, I had my fair share of mistakes along this journey, but it wouldn’t have made me the man that I am today without them.

This is where my intensity and drive comes from, day in and day out in the gym, and everything outside of the gym. This type of intensity that I’ve built has come from anger, life experiences, perseverance, mistakes, and training. This has all led me to becoming mentally tough in life. I said to myself “why would I go to the gym 5 days a week, train my ass off, and then be a push over in life?”  To just build my physique and look good? Hell no!

I then asked myself “Why wouldn’t I apply this same type of intensity that I have at the gym, to everything outside of the gym?” That’s where it all clicked. My weight training would lead to mental toughness training and then some. In this article, I’m not saying I will make you mentally tough, but I promise I will make you think about a lot of things and I almost guarantee you will want to practice some mental toughness training and really see what you’re made of. Ready, set, let’s go!

These days you can pretty much buy anything you want (boobs, cars, clothes, etc), but you can’t buy confidence and mental toughness. This comes through hard work and perseverance. This comes through punishing work and with that, perseverance can be taught.

Mental toughness training isn’t for everyone, but it should be. It’s definitely needed. Without mental toughness, you are always susceptible for a breakdown no matter how big you are or how good you look.  Knowing you can overcome adversity is the greatest strength of all. The problem is there isn’t any easy way or short cut to teaching mental toughness. Mental toughness is not for sale. It’s not something that’s given. The only way to get mentally tougher is by earning it.

Like any skills one builds, perseverance can be worked in, practiced, and strengthened. Think of perseverance like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it will get. If you don’t use it, it will atrophy (shrink). If this all sounds too vague, think of perseverance as your will.

We need to apply our strength that we have in the gym into mental strength in life & carry that over to every curve ball life throws at us. Your gym doesn’t know what kind of problems you are going through. Even some of the closest people in your life don’t have a clue either.

Training your mind and body should go hand in hand. If you’re in the gym daily, hitting it hard, and giving it everything you have, after you’re done, you can’t sit here and tell me you don’t feel like a beast when you walk out of the gym to your car. With that same inner-beast that was unleashed in the gym and walking to the car, should be carried over to every aspect in life. A good example of this is with a regular workout, people give up too easily because it’s not challenging. During an Intense workout you’re activating your hormones (EPOC levels, GH, Testosterone) and you raise your pain tolerance and with hard intense workouts you push yourself harder and that’s the same way you should approach life.

You should not become a push over or get back to passive mode.  You carry that same aggressive mentality into your everyday life, no matter what you do. I say this because what is the point in only having that feeling for 1-2 hours of your day? If you have that animal feeling at the gym and busted your ass for it, then you have that right to carry that perception over to the real world. Flat Out! No questions asked!

Everyone wants to be mentally tougher but not everyone wants to put in the work. The number one issue that will determine if you will become psychologically stronger is your determination.

You have to constantly test yourself and see how determined you actually are. The more determined your will is, the less likely you will give up. One of the best ways to practice stimulating your will is when you work out. Get your will involved in your workout as much as possible. For example, if you’re doing leg extensions and are struggling with the last reps, instead of feeling “the pump” of your muscles, connect with your will. See how many more reps you get by mentally willing yourself to do more. It’s a slight difference to what you already do. But, you want to give more credit to your will for doing the hard stuff rather than your body parts. This type of practice will eventually prove your will and determination and overtime will lead to greater accomplishments inside and outside of the gym.

Your body and mind will play games with you when you work out. Your mind is your worst enemy. It will look for ways to bring you down or not let you train. This is where your will and determination come into play.

Are you mentally willing to tell your body “Kiss my ass” I’m working out no matter how I feel or I’m busting out another rep no matter what? Just because your body is fatigued doesn’t mean your mind has to be tired.

Will your body to be aggressive and relentless in the face of exhaustion. Learning to be mentally active when your body is weak is a sign of determined will! An example of this is when I started a Russian style training routine and I would be squatting, bench pressing, and deadlifting 3 times a week. My body was sore as hell, but I tested my will and challenged myself and eventually got through the routine. I got rid of the man and unleashed the beast that’s inside of me. I truly believe everyone has this internal beast and you just need to learn how to activate it and use it properly.

Why we don’t become mentally tough in personal life is because of FEAR. Fear is a good thing; it should be a mechanism for us and motivate us to overcome adverse situations in life. That’s where bravery comes from, when we are attacking things we fear.

So, instead of being scared to try a new workout or routine because you think it’s too challenging or you physically can’t do it. Try actually testing yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. You have to get involved with being in uncomfortable situations and see if you can overcome it. For example, if you’re scared of public speaking, then start practicing it more to overcome the fear of it. That is a true test of overcoming an adverse situation and acquiring bravery. Face your fears in life, get out of your comfort zone, and see what you are truly made of.

We all work our asses off at the gym so we can build great looking bodies and become as physically strong as possible. Being mentally tougher can help carry over all the work you put in to improve your body and strength. More importantly, being mentally tough can help improve your quality of life because it teaches you to overcome adverse situations.

Quite frankly, that’s what life is good at, creating adverse dilemmas for people. But, do you crumble? Or do you lean on your will and overcome it? Life is about a series of punches being thrown at us and eventually you will get knocked down. Even the great and most successful people get knocked down. But, it’s up to you to either stay down or get back up and keep swinging.

Learn to change negativity into positivity with something reachable and specific with a possible solution. We need to learn to change the negative thought patterns into positive self talks. For example, instead of saying “I can’t do these 5 sets of squats. There’s just no way I can physically do it.” Say “I’m getting mentally stronger and I will bang out these 5 sets and then some!” Tell yourself this beforehand whether it’s in your mind or out loud. Who gives a shit what others think. Once you have any little doubt or negativity in your mind, you have already defeated yourself, your will, and your determination. Condition your mind to OUTWORK!

So when it comes to mental toughness training. I don’t want you to think it’s a type of training that you can build up through sets and repetitions. It’s much deeper than that and it takes time, hard work, life experiences, and perseverance. You must see a correlation with your life and training to apply mental toughness training to your everyday life. Be sure to push yourselves, test your will, overcome adversity, never give up, outwork people, learn to change negativity into positivity, overcome uncomfortable situations and fear, become aggressive in life and don’t be a push over, and carry that inner-beast that is at the gym over to the real world, and then some. Be MENTALLY TOUGH! Always remember, you are your worst enemy!


Challenge your will….I did with 545 pound reverse band deadlifts!


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