Rob MacDonald is the Training Director of Gym Jones, one of the country’s most elite and hardcore gyms, and the Head Ambassador of Rhone Apparel. He’s broken multiple power-endurance world records. Follow him on Instagram at @bobbymaximus.
Our most important training philosophy at Gym Jones: The Mind Is Primary.
If your mind is strong, your body will be strong. You’ll be able to handle stress, cope with suffering, deal with adversity, make sacrifices, and push through limitations. This is how you become something greater. This is how you conquer every goal, every workout, every challenge.
But building mental toughness isn’t easy. It takes work to get your brain to a point where it is willing to push longer and harder than it ever was before. Here are 3 ways we teach our clients to train their minds so they don’t fatigue and they don’t quit. These strategies will set you up for success in and out of the gym.
Self-doubt can be a powerful saboteur. So change the dialogue.
Instead of thinking I’m tired or I need to slow down during a workout, think positive thoughts. We call them “green light thoughts.”
Constantly tell yourself things like I’m going to crush this, This is easy, and I feel great. Keep repeating. This will reinforce your confidence and boost your energy so you won’t give up when things get hard.
You can even take this one step further. When I was in the UFC, my sports psychologist, Brian Cain, had me put green stickers in my house, car, and desk. Every time I passed a green sticker, I had to tell myself one “green light thought” about why I’d be successful in my next fight.
Visualize the Win
Some of the greatest athletes ever—including Muhammad Ali and Jack Nicklaus—have used visualization to boost mental toughness. Imagining a situation can reinforce the same neural pathways in your mind that performing the actual behavior can. So when it’s time to do the workout or exercise or task, your mind is already prepared.
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Each day, take five minutes and breathe deeply. Visualize every aspect of your challenge. Picture yourself in the moment, pushing through the exhaustion, finding the strength to finish. Think about how your body and lungs will feel, how your breathing and heart will feel. Think about the emotions you’ll go through, and overcoming doubts. Think about winning. The more detailed your imagery, the stronger your response will be.
Blast Your Tunes
Science has shown that music can boost athletic performance. But the key is finding music that inspires and motivates you. The music will distract you from your effort, allow you to go harder.
(Want to put these strategies to work? Try The 7-Minute Workout That Tests Your Mental Strength.)
So when you’re training to pass a challenging physical test or to break a personal record, listen to one specific song. Do this on your “hard training” days only. Then, come test day, blare the song. You’ll feel it throughout your body, invigorating you to go harder and longer just like you practiced.