Increase Your Mental Toughness in the Gym (3 Simple Strategies)

Smashing your workout in the gym takes mental toughness as well as physical strength and agility.

And if you work hard on developing your mental strength in the gym, guess what? You’ll also create huge positive knock-on effects in all the other areas of your life, making it just as important (if not more so) than the physical side of things. 

In fact, physical fitness and resilience have been found to share a strong link in plenty of scientific studies

So, if you’re someone looking for that mental edge, you’re in the right place. 

This article covers what you need to know to increase your mental strength ready for when you approach your next workout. 

Develop a strong ‘why’

The first thing I recommend you do to start increasing your mental toughness in the gym is to develop a strong why and deeply understand your motivations for why you want to keep pushing and persevering through the challenges you face in the gym.

It’s amazing how many people go to the gym without knowing why they’re doing it. They haven’t identified their values and don’t know what they stand for in life.

Speaking from experience, I didn’t do purpose work up until recently. When I actually put in the time to identify my values, it was surprising just how much clarity I was able to achieve in my life and it also helped me to get out of a few funks and plateaus in the gym. 

So, how do you identify your why?

The answer is to really dig deep into what your core motivation is. So if you’re initial thought is ‘I just want to get fit’, go another layer deeper: 

  • Why do you want to get fit?
  • What value are you hoping that getting fit will bring to your life?

Keep digging until you find an answer that really resonates with you and that you can rely on when the going gets tough.

Pursue discomfort

My second tip is to pursue discomfort. 

If you intentionally seek discomfort in your life, you’re going to be much more confident in your ability to push through and build on your resilience.

This is why I recommend pursuing challenges in the gym and in your training and doing the same outside of the gym. 

If you do this consistently, you’re going to build on the strategies you need to help you push through challenges in all shapes and sizes.

So what are some things you can do inside the gym to pursue discomfort other than just going to the gym? 

Here are a few things you can do inside the gym:

  • Work on your weaknesses
  • Ask for help where you need it 
  • Put yourself in vulnerable situations where you’re going to struggle in front of others

Outside of the gym, life is challenging enough, and the obstacles are going to keep coming at you. However, there are a few things you can do proactively to build your ability to do hard things.

Here are a few things you can do outside the gym:

  • Cold exposure (take cold showers or ice baths)
  • Initiate challenging conversations
  • Meditation
  • Therapy 

It’s not easy to push yourself out of your comfort zone in the beginning, but the more you do things that make you uncomfortable, the more momentum you’ll build up, and the better you’ll perform in your workouts and life in general.

Become a student

My third and final tip is to become a student of mental toughness.

This is all about developing your growth mindset and looking through the lens of how you can develop, practice and get better.

If you’re reading this article, the chances are you’re already a student of CrossFit, but maybe you’re not a student of mental development and toughness. 

To become a student of mental toughness, I recommend reading books such as:

  • Relentless by Tim Grover. Grover coached Kobe Bryant, Micheal Jordan and Dwayne Wase and other high-level NBA players, and his book has some unbeatable insights into how to develop mental grit. 
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck. This book helps set the foundations for understanding how to move through life while looking for opportunities to learn lessons along the way.

Or, if you learn better by doing and want a more interactive way to increase your resilience, I highly recommend our mental toughness course, strong mind

This is a 4-week course where you can watch a video every single day. It will walk you through step by step how to develop a strong mindset and framework for becoming a student of mental toughness. 

To summarize

And there you have it - three tips to increase your mental toughness in and outside the gym!

Remember, these tips aren’t just something you can think about for a day or two. Like anything you do in the gym and in life, you need to put in the time and effort and keep it consistent to really see the payoff. 

So if you’re ready to really commit to building a strong mind, don’t forget to sign up for our course

Alternatively, we have a great free guide that takes you through 20 things to do when the going gets tough. Check it out!
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