3 Ways to Strengthen Your Mental Game AND Your Squat

A great strength program is no good if the most important muscle in your body, your brain, isn't functioning right!  Here are 3 ways you can get stronger and they have absolutely nothing to do with lifting weights but rather cleaning up through processes.  If you want immediate results, strengthening up your mental game is the most important thing you can do.  In the process it will jump those back squat numbers up as well.  

1:  Delayed Gratification

Good things come to those who wait.  Training and pushing yourself to new limits is amazing and when you hit those goals it is euphoric when you hit a PR snatch or crush your 5k run time but those days are few and often times far between.  Because of this it is crucial to understand realistic time frames based on where you are starting and where you are going.  

If I wanted to run 6 minute mile and already am running a 7:15 mile I can expect to put some extra work in specific to this goal 2-3 times a week and could be looking at achieving this goal within the next 3-6 months.  Now if my goal is a 6 minute mile run and I am currently at a mile of 15 minutes that is obviously going to take much longer to attain.  

The point of this analogy is that nothing comes true over night.  There is no magic pill or instant program that will make you Michael Jordan (or Steve Yzerman for my fellow hockey fans).  You have to put in the work with time, and sweat and then over a period of weeks, months and even years, you will achieve your end goal and it will be sweet and well earned.  Every day isn’t going to be a PR nor should it. The delayed gratification of getting to what you want but only after a lot of hard work is amazing and well worth the journey when you hold that bar overhead or cross that finish line.

2:  Control Anger/Frustration

“Anger leads to the dark side” Yoda.  Even if we understand the above concept of delaying gratification waiting for Christmas still sucks.  It is normal for everyone to feel frustrated and get angry because things are not progressing fast enough.  Despite this being normal it can consume you if not put in check quickly.  Anger creates confusion and doubt and that leads dreams derailed.

The trick is not just saying “don’t get frustrated” but rather how to use the frustration as motivation rather than destructive anger.  When I get frustrated I first look at what it is I am doing and where I feel I need to improve.  At that point I will go find an expert in that field and ask them how I can better improve my efforts.  

This without fail has helped me in sports, school, and in business.  It also helps to reach out and have another person to discuss things with to tell you you’re not losing your mind but also hold you accountable to doing the work.

3: Leave Your Ego at the Door

This is typically a sign put up in a gym by the guy with the biggest ego on the block, but what is ego? Ego is defined as a person’s sense of self esteem or self worth.  The issue with ego is that when we get too focused on how we feel in the moment and become selfish and can no longer see the bigger picture.  It is then when we make mistakes in what we say and do.  

This holds true for training as well. Ego in loading the bar too heavy or trying to go too fast for where we are ready only to find ourselves not getting the lift in or worse getting hurt.  This goes hand in hand with comparing yourself to others and trying “look good” in front of or for others.  I’ll let you in on a secret...no one cares about what you are doing except you so get over it.  Simply worry about yourself and your goals not what others are doing.  

What's this got to do with my squat?

Make the connection to take anger, arrogance, and pride out of the equation you will have success inside the gym and out.  In the squat success is driven from starting with mechanics and being meticulous about them.  Load the hips back, drive the knees out as you pull yourself down to depth then drive up into the bar through the heels standing with force and speed.  If done with appropriate weight and patience you will be squatting your goal weight eventually.  Where this plan takes a wrong turn is when impatience over hitting bigger numbers to quickly creeps in and the reason for the impatience is typically because of numbers that other people are doing and wanting to keep up or beat them.  This is when reps begin to fail and anger comes in to play only stalling progress even more.  

So with all that said:

  • Be patient.  Stay the course and know that anything worth having is worth working months or even years to achieve.  The olympics are only every 4 years for a reason.  

  • Frustration is normal and motivating but anger is deadly and creates negative attitudes for yourself and others around you. Don't be the anchor that sinks the ship.  Be the lighthouse on the horizon guiding others home.  

  • Leave your ego at the door and come into training with an attitude of learning and leading from the front.  Be example of hard work and dedication and you will reach your goals faster and find the joy in the journey is often more satisfying than the goal itself.

Goals assessments and strengthening mental toughness are part of every athletes plan at CrossFit Tactical Strength.  Click below to set up a FREE TRIAL to discuss this in depth with one of our great coaches.