Simple(ish) Ways to Build Mental Toughness

mental toughness Simple(ish) Ways to Build Mental Toughness

Greeting from Shreveport, Louisiana! Me, the wife, our baby and tiny dog are making our baby steps (no pun intended) from Texas to Florida. Next post on Thursday should be from Florida!!

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important elements of fitness, and of lifeMental Toughness!

Let’s build your mental toughness. Let’s find out who you are.

Some people are born tough. For different reasons, each individual has their own level of mental toughness…but why? Everyone has a different background; whether you had a tough childhood, you were in the military or you have seen adversities or hardships most don’t.

Building mental toughness is just like working a muscle – it takes frequent force, applied overtime, to build and develop. Let’s look at some simple ways to work on your mental toughness.

Take away extrinsic motivators

white room Simple(ish) Ways to Build Mental Toughness

What motivates you during a workout? Is it the people who surround you, the music blaring in your headphones or the clock ticking away?

These things are great, but they may also be a crutch or a true LIMFAC. If extrinsic motivators (artificial motivators) become a necessity, what will you do when they are gone?

Well, let’s take all of them away and see what happens.

In which of these scenarios would you perform better?

  • Scenario 1: You are in a plain white room with a barbell and the clothes on your back…that’s it. The decision to workout, to start or finish or even to push yourself or slack off is completely up to you. How would that workout go?
  • Scenario 2: You are standing in a room with some of your best friends all doing the same workout and going through the same pain. You are listening to your favorite playlist as you lift rep after rep staring at a clock and your friends; because you either want to beat them or the clock on the wall. How would that workout go?

Chances are, for most people, scenario two will have the better outcome – but why? Mental toughness is mental toughness…right?

A very simple way to start building some mental toughness – Try a workout out with no extrinsic motivators!!

Don’t be afraid to go there

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You know “where” I am talking about.

Go to that place where you don’t go that often. Some people call it a pain cave, a place where heroes are born or the suck. Whatever you call it…You need to go there!!

This place is what mental toughness is all about, and you can’t get there without it. Catch 22, I know.

The point is to push yourself a little bit further every time. Don’t be afraid! Go to that place and stay there for as long as you can – until your mind and body force you back out to reality. You will become tougher each and every time you go to that place. Eventually, you will have a nice bit of real estate in the pain cave and you will know what mental toughness is all about.

My quick story:

I was running mile sprints with a 20lb. vest a few days ago with a WOD in between the sprints. The first sprint and wod went great. The second mile sprint felt terrible. I felt like I was hardly moving, and the last 800m I was certain I was going to throw up.

Well, I made the decision to “go there” the last 400m. I decided I was comfortable with throwing up, and I HATE throwing up. I picked up the pace to as fast of a sprint as I could muster and the feeling of vomit got stronger and I pushed it even harder…but I didn’t throw up…That feeling actually went away and I was left moving A LOT faster with no real suffering.

Point of the story. Sometimes you just need to go there to find out. Don’t be afraid.

Hang with those who go there

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  • Want to be successful?
  • Want to be rich?
  • Want to be mentally tough?

Then hang with, and do, what successful, rich and mentally tough people do. Today we are just focusing on the mentally tough.

If you are hanging with the guy/gal who has the let’s-not-push-it-to-far-and-maybe-we-can-just-do-this-tomorrow mentality then you will become the I-don’t-want-to-push-it-to-far-and-I’ll-do-this-tomorrow person. So the easiest thing to do is…

A.) Don’t be that person, and
B.) Don’t hang with those people.

Hang out with the people who will always push you a little bit harder and make you go a little bit further. These people have the power to inadvertently turn your goodness into greatness.

Never be mediocre!

Make challenge a habit

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Do you view a challenge as something that was thrown in front of you, so you are obligated to overcome it? Or is a challenge something you are hungry for?

Challenge yourself daily! Be hungry!

A challenge does not have to be a huge project. You can choose to challenge yourself daily. Whether you do this working out or at work – it doesn’t matter. Challenging yourself in any way, shape or form will help you build mental toughness. This is actually part of the End of Three Fitness Philosophy – to quote:

…there is point everyday either in a workout, at work, or in your daily life where you mind says “let’s stop here”. We are going to go just a little bit further every time your brain says this in every aspect of your life.

You will be amazed what this can do for you. Today is your day one. Let’s begin your revolution.

Bonus tip: Swim in ice water

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I’ll start with having you read the End of Three Fitness disclaimer before I go any further about swimming in ice cold water icon smile Simple(ish) Ways to Build Mental Toughness

This is about as literal as you can get when it comes to being mentally tough, and mainly inspired by Dan Bailey and Rich Froning.

As someone who has done this I can tell you it will work three different aspects of mental toughness.

The plunge – ability to act

  • Deciding to jump is the hardest part when it comes to mental toughness in life. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and worry about the rest later. Take the plunge!

The suck – ability to stay

  • You’ve jumped! The trick now is to stay. Don’t get out as fast as you got in. Stay with it a little while. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

The aftermath – ability to endure

  • Most things that take mental toughness are not over when you say stop. The worst part of the pain maybe over, but there is still time left in which you are uncomfortable. This is a great time to look back and analyze yourself. How did you respond?


Breaking yourself down as far as you can is a great way to get to know your true self. Some people never meet this side of themselves. I don’t know whether to count these people as lucky or unfortunate.

Who are you? How do you build mental toughness?



The End of Three Fitness birthday is coming up!! To celebrate the site is going to get a huge facelift!! Don’t worry, Eo3 will still be the same at heart, we will just look a little different icon smile Simple(ish) Ways to Build Mental Toughness

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Hey, I'm Jerred Moon and I write about: proven methods to get stronger, faster and harder to kill; tips, tricks and DIY projects for bringing fitness to the home front; and ways that food can help you recover, cure disease and better fuel your brain.

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