It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to, has power over you. If you allow it.
Have you ever wondered what makes someone a killer athlete? A straight-A student? A phenomenal musician? Why does it seem like some people just nail it, while others fall behind?
It's tempting to chalk it up to good genetics. Natural ability. But the bigger piece of the puzzle? Mental toughness.
The research is out. And folks? Pure grit, mental strength, and overall perseverance is the #1 factor when it comes to achieving your goals....in every area of life!
Which is good news! Because there ain't much you can do about those genes of yours (aside from turn them into super cute cut-offs). Talent is so overrated!
OK. So you're ready to snag the role of Olympic flag-bearer. You're ready to develop super-human levels of mental toughness. How do you get there?
In a word? Consistency.
Babe Ruth once said, "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." And I believe this to be 100% true!
This past weekend, I had the privilege of running a 10K race at Mud Hero with three genuinely bad-ass women. And even when every one of our limbs was weighed down in 10 extra pounds of mud, we ran the hill. We scaled the wall. And we backstroked through the muckiest muck in town.
We never gave it up.
And why is that? What is the one thing we all have in common? Practice with being mentally strong. We are consistent with being disciplined.
Mental toughness is like a muscle. It needs to be worked. It needs to grow. And it needs to develop.
And guys, if you're not used to pushing yourself, you will wilt when things get hard.
So do the tough stuff. Go one month without missing a workout. Meditate every morning this week. Grind out one extra rep each set at the gym today. Because you will never be able to think your way to mental toughness. But you can act your way there. Even with small wins, every day!
Mentally tough people don't have to be more courageous, more skilled, more intelligent, or more good looking (although lets face it, if you can drop it like its hot, and turn a few heads, it ain't gonna hurt you) -- mentally tough people just need to be more consistent.
Develop habits, practice fortitude, and find a system that will allow you to focus on the important stuff, regardless of how many obstacles life (or Mud Hero!) puts in front of you.
Be more consistent than everyone in the room. Flex your mental toughness. And you will have no choice but to rise to the top.
"And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling." - Shanti
Running through a sprinkler buck naked. Leaping from chair to chair, trying to avoid the lava at all costs. Having a shake-your-booty dance contest.
My kids find fun and exciting ways to get their hearts racing every day. In fact, it is their mission to play as hard as they can. Every day. And they continually inspire me get on the light-hearted, throw-caution-to-the-wind bandwagon.
In fact, just last night, I took a drop-in hip-hop dance class with a girlfriend......and let me tell you......we laughed (and sweated) our way through it all. You want me to strike a pose called "shopping bag arms"?! Let's do it!
We adults take life waaaayyyyy too seriously. And I am definitely a class-one offender.
But what about fitness? Do you take your workouts too seriously?
How do you feel before, during and after a workout? Is there fear, resentment, boredom, anger, and frustration? Or is there excitement, elation, gratitude, satisfaction and a sense of lighthearted joy?
Are you should-ing on yourself, guilt-tripping your workout into existence? Or are you prioritizing your workout, because it's honestly one of the best parts of your day?
The key to making fitness a part of your everyday routine, is to enjoy it!
Which is exactly why I love to mix it up and include all kinds of variety at the gym. Agility ladder? Let's hop-scotch it. Sledgehammer? Let's slam it. Cones? Let's race it.
Fun? Let's have it.
Whatever way you choose to get your blood pumping, make it something that puts a smile on your face. Because life is too short to begrudge your fitness.
Remember, you don't have to work up a sweat today. You get to.
And deep down, underneath it all, we all just want to have a shake-your-booty dance contest.
Tension isn't always a bad thing.
Tension gets a bit of a bad wrap.
It's your clenched jaw that leads to thousands of dollars in dental work. It's the family dinner after a big blow-out with your mother. It's the stand-off between siblings over who gets the last fruit roll-up. (Jesus Christ, I would fight to the death for that).
Sure. Tension has its off days. But what about the good kind of tension?
The edge of your seat, scary movie kind of tension. The stare into my eyes, I want you to kiss me kind of tension. Spanx kind of tension. And of course, last but not least, muscle tension.
When it comes to building strength, time under tension (or TUT as the "professionals" like to call it) plays a big factor. A longer TUT, with the right resistance, will lead to greater muscle fiber fatigue, as well as greater lactic acid production.
And all of these contribute to stimulating muscle growth.
The duration of a set is just as important as the weight used. And research shows that the optimal lactic zone when training, is between 40-70 seconds.
Which is exactly why we incorporate timed sets in many of our workouts (rather than only ever relying on a given number of reps).
One method we'll be playing around with this week, is the 40-30-5 Method. 40 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest, 5 sets.
We'll also be playing around with timing of reps. Slow eccentric work, and some isometric holds.
Let's love up the tension, guys! King TUT style.
The secret to hypertrophy.....or how to get jacked!
Pain is a curious thing. Whether we're experiencing heart-break, stress, anxiety, sadness, or fear.....we often avoid it like the plague and distract ourselves with matinee movies, hot fudge sundaes, and tv tennis watching.
Or we dive into it and feel it hard, with heart-wrenching music on the car stereo, tear-inducing memory bank slideshows, and depressing I-give-up floor lying.
(disclaimer: fierce fitness blog posts, as narrated, may or may not reflect actual events in said narrator's life).
There is a time and place for extremes. But if we spent all of our time there, we'd likely ware ourselves out. Without getting much of anywhere.
Same goes for fitness.
Too often, we think that the only way to "grow" a muscle is through heavier loads and creating a ton of muscle tissue damage...aka lifting heavy and making ourselves really sore.
But mixing it up is where it's at. And here's why.
Muscle tissue damage is only one driver of muscle growth.
So stop using soreness as your indicator that you worked hard enough!
Mechanical tension plays a huge roll in beefing up those muscles. So essentially, making sure that we're using that mind-body connection to recruit the right muscle groups. Lighter loads and higher reps can be great for this! Which often means quick recovery and increased training frequency.
Metabolic stress is also a key player. So training for the pump, or a big burn. Think long holds and constant tension. Our friendly neighbourhood booty bands are great for this. Not to mention a little plank and squat hold action.
On tap for this week? We're mixin' it up and challenging your muscles in all the right ways.
And I quote Snowball, the bunny, from The Secret Life of Pets 2 (which I may or may not have watched this afternoon with my kids):
“I’m gonna be the first bunny with washboard glutes. I’m not even sure what glutes are….but mine are gonna be shredded.”
I'll get you there, guys. Washboard glutes is officially our new goal.
And now, we have the roadmap on how to do it!