Friday, April 8, 2011

Your training Mindset

What is "mindset?" What should it be? How do we fix it, if it's flawed? Great questions. Your mindset is your attitude, in essence. Your personal approach to training, the underlying deep reason you train. A number of things can influence your mindset, such as your self-esteem, your personal values, the popular media, your peers, the culture at your gym, your trainer, etc...etc...It's kind of a summary of your thoughts, ideas, perceptions, all filtered thru the lens of your self esteem.Your mindset can determine how you react to setbacks in training, injury, lack of progress, etc... Example:

Athlete #1:
Perception: I'm a bad ass, top of the food chain, alpha-male, and I dominate in the gym, well ok maybe not every single workout, but hey most of them. Well ok, as long as they don't have running in them, or double-unders, or burpees, yea I hate those. But everything else I kick ass, ....most of the time, well yea ok except for that time so and so beat me, yea that was a fluke. I'm bad ass, I dominate.

Reality: This athlete may in fact have a lot of solid attributes, but he's arrogant and unwilling to recognize his shortcomings. Maybe a little insecure about it so he feels the need to boast about his strengths in the gym. Even if he's not actually obnoxious about it, we've all seen this particular gym goer, even in CrossFit. So his mindset is unhealthy. Mindset adjustment: He needs to humble himself and get to work on the areas of weakness. Mindset affects performance. Other people out-performing you in the gym is a positive thing, not a negative one, unless you're just straight out slacking of course. Check the ego, don't let it get in the way of your progress. Be honest and admit where you need work.

Athlete #2:
Perception: I'm really getting discouraged because I've been doing CrossFit for two weeks and everyone is still beating me! I hate being last! This other girl (who's been doing CrossFit for 7 years) ran circles around me the other day! Will I be passing her up in a few weeks? This morning we were doing some presses and another girl pressed WAY more than me! (Granted, she has a lot more muscular frame and is built more advantageously for lifting weights, and I have longer arms and I'm nowhere near as experienced, BUT)....all of this gets me very discouraged and down on myself, because I think I should already be matching the others or beating them, after 2 weeks.

Reality:   I don't know about you but if I am crossfitting for 7 years and a 2 week rookie beats me at anything, I'm not gonna like that and I'm gonna think something is wrong! Clearly this is an unhealthy mindset, and could lead to this athlete constantly beating herself up and having highly unrealistic expectations. It takes years to develop athletic performance, not weeks or even months. Many many people will quit long before they allow the body to truly adapt as an organism. Mindset adjustment: Think long term! Don't compare yourself to others in a negative way. Compete against people who are at a higher level to be sure, but keep it in perspective, ultimately you're seeking to consistently out-perform YOURSELF! That should be motivate you tremendously. When someone else beats you, congratulate them, and then thank them, because if you didn't have that individual kicking your butt, where would you be? How would you even know there's another level? Let it drive you, don't let it discourage you. Mindset affects performance!

Athlete #3

Perception: I'm thinking of quitting CrossFit. I've been at it for about 3-4 months, and I had thought I would have lost more weight by now. I am a little over what all the BMI charts say I should be. I have a girlfriend who can eat whatever she wants and she's super thin. I've lost 3 inches and everyone tells me I am looking really good, but I wanted to lose more and I've plateaued. My deadlift, squat, and press have all doubled. I can run a mile without stopping, and I'm pretty close to my first pullup, but what I really want is to fit into these clothes I've been saving for 5 years. I check my weight and waistline daily, and I thought I'd be steadily dropping.

Reality: If you quit, where does that leave you? What kind of progress will you make then? This athlete is excessively focusing on appearance goals, which are impossible to directly influence, unless you are a surgeon with a scalpel. She's made phenomenal progress, and yet dismisses that as trivial. It's perfectly ok in my book to care about looking good. It's not healthy to obsess over it. The irony is that if you try to design a program around looking good, it ain't gonna work. If you try to "sculpt" out a body in a particular way, you're gonna be frustrated. Mindset adjustment: Focus on performance! Focus on performance! Lift more weight faster, run faster. Increase your work capacity. Set specific goals and put the work in to accomplish them. Do a pullup, 20 strict pushups, 50 burpees in 5 minutes, jump on a 24" box, learn basic gymnastic skills, do a muscle up, etc... Let these kinds of markers motivate you to work harder than ever before to forge a new person. This is a new lifestyle, not a temporary job which has a conclusion in 4-6 months. 3-5 years of consistent training is minimum for truly dramatic changes. When you focus on performance, appearance takes care of itself. The primary goal of your training should be increasing work capacity. Having a body that turns people's heads is a really nice fringe benefit, but it's NOT the main reason we train. If it is, you might want to check your mindset!

2 comments:

  1. Awesome advice, that everyone can use not just those who may be struggling with some of the examples given. I know for me, I sometimes program away from my weaknesses and that should be the complete opposite. I especially agree with, "lift more weight, faster..., run faster, jump higher...". That is as simple as it needs to be to have unbelievable results.

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  2. HUMMMMM----you are correct with all that you have said! After last week I had to work a lil on the mind set stuff! I will continue to work out, I will watch what I am eating,drink less, and this one is hard weigh once a week:)---I would like to thank you! You are a wonderful teacher--- I am stronger at well I am not telling my age then I ever have been..... after my break down I did relize that I am moving in a foward direction with my overall health, and in time everything else will happen----I Think you are doing a damn fine job---and you may want to make a copy of this because never do I admit when I am wrong :) see you TOM:)

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