"The Mind Is Primary"

"The Mind Is Primary"

This the end result of when myself, Dave, and Mo brainstorm after a Saturday Pain Clinic. You guys will love it…

The Importance on developing mental fitness….
Rob Shaul of http://militaryathlete.com/ is a strength coach whose philosophy I follow and respect. Unfortunately, I wasn’t made aware of him until after I was out of active duty. Besides the physical components of designing an effective strength and conditioning program, Rob understands that the “mind is primary” (evident from him being heavily influenced by Gym Jones) and more importantly it can be trained and developed inside the gym…
I’ll never forget during a timed set of dead hangs, after falling from the bar, Primetime looks at me and asks something to the effect of “why the hell do we do that horrible s$%t?!” (answer follows shortly)
Or more commonly, a lot of questions typically revolve around “what can I do to get rid of (insert common problem area of the body) love handles, gut, thighs, etc…”
The answer is…you can’t really do anything, and anyone who tries to sell you a magic pill or some magical exercise is full of s$%t. But that doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. Your whole body will change and recomposition together as a unit…not piece by piece.
 But I don’t want to just develop your body….once again to quote Mark Twight…THE MIND IS PRIMARY. What does he mean by that? The following excerpt is taken from a 2009 interview found here..
Can you briefly explain your training philosophy at Gym Jones?

The mind is primary. Physical training is easy, especially if you only do what you already do well. Psychological training is hard. If sport performance is 90% mental – as most people insist – and you aren’t training your mind in concert with your body you are wasting time. Unf@#k your head and physical performance increases instantly.

Our athletes carry their engine or fight in a specific weight class so power-to-weight ratio is our main objective. No one has ever gained weight in our gym but everyone is stronger, faster, and more capable than when they arrived. Yes, we know how to put on size and we’ve done it for certain fighters but really … yawn.

Improving sport performance is a question of attention, discipline, and effort. Practice makes habit. You become what you do. Do it right and evolve. Do it wrong and stagnate. Every level of performance has an entry fee. If you can pay you can play. Want to race bikes or Nordic ski at an international level? It costs 1000 hours of training volume per year. 1100 would be better. Only have 500? Welcome to the regionals, maybe nationals … there are no shortcuts. Want to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu? Invest nine or ten years … there are no quick fixes.

Work + Recovery = Training. Everyone forgets the second point. Many will work hard. Few treat recovery with equal discipline. Do it and surpass. Don’t and plateau. It’s simple.

Some might consider [what we do] tough simply because what constitutes hard work has slipped over the last 30 years. These days unremarkable fitness is called elite. What we do in the gym isn’t old-school hard. But it’s passable and our guys fairly capable.

So why the dead hangs (or wall sits, or plank holds, or any other suck factor)? I want you to engage in that internal dialog where it’s only up to you to drop off the bar…to quit.  Everyone has a breaking point…but by constantly reaching that breaking point, going to that dark place, you are able to push it back further and further each time you train…not only becoming physically stronger….but more importantly mentally stronger as well. And the more importantly strong you become…the more disciplined and self-confident you will become as well….which will lead to greater gains in body recomposition and physical performance. A workout split of chest/tris, back/bis, legs/shoulders…just doesn’t cut it in the real world. To paraphase Mark Rippetoe, there is no cardio, no firming or toning, only stronger or weaker….and that stronger or weaker applies to both the mind and the body. 

In closing Rob leaves with some points of performance to further develop the mental fitness…read below and use them out the next time the wizard starts tracking you down. 

I’m a strength coach who believes that mental toughness should and can be trained in the gym. Further, initial gym-based mental toughness can’t be seen as the ultimate judge of an athlete’s character.
What I mean by this is gym-based mental toughness can be learned. Often, new athletes will suffer with mental toughness their first time in the gym. But the next time they come in and endure one of these work capacity/mental toughness sessions, they do much better. They have some idea what to expect, and their performance improves.
Further, I think mental toughness can and should be coached. Here are some guidelines we use:
1) Don’t go to complete failure. Stop and rest before digging yourself into a deep hole. I instruct my athletes to stop with 1-2 reps left and rest then instead of going to complete failure before stopping.
2) Limit your rest to 5 breaths. That’s it.
3) No rest between transitions. This is the hardest one. Move right from one exercise to the next and start it. Your mind will want to rest. Your body doesn’t need to. You’ll surprise yourself.
4) The darker things get, the shorter term your thinking needs to be. When things rally suck, just tell yourself, “one rep at a time.” – don’t think about the whole set.

So take some time to ponder those points and see if you can apply them the next time out at PSKC.

Now enjoy some action shots from throughout the week..

6pm Relay Champs
7pm Relay Champs
Leslie rocking her first Get Up
Beginning of the Scioto County Ninja Warrior Course 
I am the missing link
Familiar scene at the end of a Saturday Pain Clinic
Shep enjoying the vertical rope pulls
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