Mental Toughness

Round 4 of a 5 round WOD: legs, hurting; heart, pounding; lungs, exploding; fatigue sets in.

Every CrossFitter from novice to elite will reach this critical threshold and SHOULD reach it every time we WOD. This marks the turning point where we will either beat the time we have striven for, or fizzle out in a fatigue-induced slouch over our barbell.

The difference between these two polar opposite paths comes down to one intangible factor: mental toughness.

Mental toughness represents our will to succeed; the driving force that will push us past   our pre-conceived physical limits. Too often, I see athletes who assure me they cannot go further because something on their body “hurts.”  Of course they’re “hurting” – that’s the point of CrossFit. If this WOD was easy, it wouldn’t be doing the job it was programmed to do.  A massive difference exists between injury and hurt. Injury = physical inability to continue because something is broken. Hurt = pain from workout.

Suck it up. All of us feel it and all of us have been guilty of sandbagging during a WOD at one point in time. I can personally tell all reading that my most frustrating WOD experiences have come after I have quit on myself and personally known that I could have and should have done better – no one should ever have that feeling post-WOD. We all reach that point where putting down the bar for a minute or stopping a run feels like the easy thing to do. Leaving a WOD should parallel the feeling of leaving the arena after playing for a championship or walking out of the office after interviewing for our dream job. We should have the feeling that we put our maximum effort and every ounce of sweat and blood into this endeavor and if we came up short of our goal, at least we gave it all we had, physically AND mentally.

When the athlete who tells me they “can’t” is pushed and encouraged a little, they do exactly what they insisted they could not. Every time. As a staff, we will not always be there every time to tell an athlete to push themselves. It comes down to your own mental toughness. Push past your pain threshold. Suck it up, think “I can crush this” and pick up the bar. Don’t sell yourself short – any of us can do anything if we believe in our abilities and act upon this realization.

Rope Climbs

20 minute AMRAP
10 Shoulder to Overhead (95,65)
15 Toes to Bar
200m Run

Level 2 (75,55)
Level 1 (65,35)
ADV – 15ft rope climb in between rounds.


  • Joe B

    10/20/2011 @ 2:48 am

    Great WOD. Never tried rope climb before. Or at least not since I was 9 or 10 years old. Got 5 round +5 tonight. Unfortunately toes to bars became heave a body part to the bar.

  • boyson

    10/20/2011 @ 1:43 am

    WOD: 5 + 11 RX

    Toesssssssssssss to baaahhhhhh!!! gotta work them joints!!!!

  • Gambee

    10/19/2011 @ 11:52 pm

    WOOOO. Love the post Maze. Agree 100%. Once I let an ounce of doubt enter my mind, i find myself dropping the bar or breaking sets that I should be finishing unbroken. Just need to fight through it and start CRUSHING ishh.

    WOD: 6 + 6 ADV

  • Greg

    10/19/2011 @ 11:14 pm

    Great WOD!

    4 + 25 advanced. Sub’d 250 meter row for the run.

    Pretty sure this was my first advanced wod. Woot!

  • Joe

    10/19/2011 @ 9:12 pm

    Classic Joe Masley wisdom right there.

    5+10 Rx

  • Mandy Cash

    10/19/2011 @ 4:09 pm

    Love the post Maze.

    Completed a rope climb!

    5 + 20 Rx with 10ft rope climbs!

  • Sean

    10/19/2011 @ 2:56 pm

    Well said, Maze. I’m definitely guilty of this every once in awhile during a really sucky WOD. As you said, we all need to suck it up sometimes and get through it. I find when I do I’m all the better for it.

    WOD: 6 adv

    Dudley straight up murdering those T2B’s and rope climbs this morning!

  • Jaime

    10/19/2011 @ 1:33 pm

    I am so bummed to be away this week, I am missing such killer wods! waaaah! 🙁

  • Does it matter?

    10/19/2011 @ 1:07 pm


  • Arik

    10/19/2011 @ 12:13 pm

    Rope Climbs – got my first one, unfortunately didn’t use my legs 🙁

    20 minute AMRAP
    10 Shoulder to Overhead (95,65)
    15 Toes to Bar
    200m Run

    4+25 Rx

  • Lulu

    10/19/2011 @ 1:49 am

    Good day for this post – it always helps to have someone push you, but it comes down to mental toughness in the end – thanks to aaron and some MT – got my pr on the power clean today 😉

  • Amy

    10/19/2011 @ 12:14 am

    Once again, very well said Mazeman. I find most WODs to be more of a mental struggle than a physical struggle. I need to suck it up and toughen up….especially this weekend.

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