Mental Toughness In CrossFit, Weightlifting & Powerlifting

kate cic2


The demands of the three major sports we coach at CFT are not only physical, but have a huge mental component to them too. A finely tuned physical athlete is all well and good, but without an equally proficient mental game, this good athlete will never morph into the complete version of themselves. I firmly believe that untapped physical potential is often being held back by a mind block.

“The Mind Is Primary”

The sports we love are hard, physically demanding and they hurt. Learning to embrace a necessary amount of suffering is an important mental bridge to cross to succeed as an athlete in these pursuits. Don’t confuse this with being prepared for physical pain though – injury shouldn’t be risked in the blind pursuit of glory. Having said this, its often hard for athletes to understand what constitutes “pushing hard”{ and what constitutes “pushing dangerously”.

Here are 3 tips to help improve your mental game:

1. Be aware of yourself and nothing else

Blocking out what is going on around you during competition is an extremely hard skill to master, but a hugely important one. Train yourself in surroundings that replicate a competition environment as often as possible – the sounds, smells & distractions that engulf every venue you compete in. We often re-create this scenario for an athlete and then remove one of their senses to help them focus on important factors such as listening to their breathing rate or focusing their attention on one specific element of performance. For example, we may blindfold them during elements of a workout or put earplugs in to take away their hearing.

2. Know what it feels like to “red line”

I spoke about this yesterday in my blog post regarding general conditioning. The sensation of onset of blood lactate or reaching your lactate threshold is the point of a workout where you are unable to perform at the same intensity for any longer. Often this is the point where you feel sick, breathless and battered. It’s important to know how this feels without training in this zone regularly in order to know the warning signs and signals. Its also important to know how close you can get to this point and how long you can maintain that intensity for. Put yourself there, make yourself suffer and vow to yourself that you can go there again if you need it in the heat of battle!

3. Have perspective

Sometimes the feelings we get during competition  can feel like the worst physical and mental pain we’ve ever gone through. It’s important to have perspective, to know that it will be over soon and that there are far worse things that we could be experiencing. Having that level of perspective will allow you to push yourself to the necessary level of suffering to complete the workout or task as best as you possibly can. What’s the worst thing that could happen to you? Its definitely not the workout or lift you are about to undertake sop always remember that and embrace the salvation experienced when you can push yourself to a level of mental anguish that others wouldn’t dare dream of going to.