Workout of the Day:
Seven rounds for time of:
155/105 lb. Power Cleans x 3
24″ Box Jumps x 6
Pull-Ups x 9
Michele Handstand
Formula for Mental Toughness 
Written by Michele Vieux

In my opinion, CrossFit requires strength, speed, stamina, and a great deal of mental toughness. What good is being as strong as an ox or as fast as Flo Jo if you can’t push through tough and challenging workouts and maintain a steady or increased pace? I argue that mental toughness can get you a lot farther in CrossFit than brute strength or lightning fast speed. 

But what is mental toughness? CrossFit Invictus member, Courtland, put it perfectly in a recent blog post. 

“[Mental toughness is] getting past difficult points by experience and realizing how much of what one thought was too hard, impossible, etc. has now been felt and lived through, nearly always for great benefit.” 

In CrossFit, mental toughness is maybe even more important than your physical ability or God-given athletic talent. CrossFit requires mental toughness to be able to perform at YOUR peak level. As your performances improve, so too does your mental toughness—both in your workouts AND your everyday life! 

Some say mental toughness is inherent and some say it is learned. I say it is probably a little of both which means you can still improve yours no matter what level you already possess.  

Here are some tips to help you get beyond those difficult points so that you may experience what you never thought possible and increase your mental toughness: 

  1. Psyche yourself up, not out. Think about what you need to do to complete the task at hand and NOT how hard or heavy it is going to be. Don’t let fear hinder or block your performance.
  2. Don’t hang onto prior mistakes or failed attempts—use them as learning devices and stepping stones to success for your next try.
  3. Set a goal like a pace time per round, completion of the WOD in under a certain amount of time, getting in a set number of reps completed before resting, giving yourself the best prep for your upcoming race, or even keeping a fellow Invictus member within your sights. Remind yourself of this when you want to stop.
  4. Start next round or exercise BEFORE assessing if you need a rest. Getting in at least a couple of reps of the next task not only gives your mind a confidence boost but also gives your body a chance to assess if you still need the break. Sometimes moving in a different way can relieve some of the stress on your tired body parts.
  5. The countdown—stick to it! If you do need to rest, no problem, but give yourself “the countdown” of a preset time limit in which you solemnly swear to restart your WOD.

 When you realize that what you once thought was impossible is actually not, you will begin to see improved overall performance in your CrossFit workouts. And since mental toughness is a virtue that crosses many mediums, you should easily be able to relate your CrossFit experiences to your daily routine and enjoy improved performance in your quality of life with your newly acquired confidence and toughness.

  • POS

    M, I agree that anyone who has crossfited for any amount of time has realized that it not only develops your physical toughness but also your mental much more so. Tip #4 is a great one to incorporate and makes the workout shorter for sure.

    Forget the virtual shoveling…. today was 20 minutes as many shovelfuls of snow as possible! Looking forward to todays workout looks fun.

  • Wayne

    Awesome WOD this am.

    Thanks to Dani for helping through the last round. Much appreciated!!!!

    Good day to all.

  • I wanted to say thanks to Calvin and Nick for letting me work out with your 8:30 am Saturday class while I was in town. That was a tough WOD. You guys run a great class and have a great looking box. I also like the Zone-friendly snacks and meals you’ve got stocked in your fridge. Stop by if you’re in our area and I hope to see you and your crew at the 2009 Games.

  • Cynthia

    Big fun this morning! Thanks, Jen, for working with me (and making me do the big box–even tho I stepped up.)

    I gotta say…..this Zone stuff seems to be working for me. I’m subbing 3:1 fat for 3-4 blocks of carbs each day, and I’m noticing some interesting things: I can do kipping pull ups all of the sudden, I feel stronger, no mid-day crash.

    The nutrition cert on Saturday was a great review of all the stuff I’ve been reading and the info that the CFI coaches have been putting out to us. It’s hard not to be the Nutrition Nazi all the time when I see what people are eating, but hopefully I can drop some info here and there and get them thinking.

    And for dog’s sake, BC, do something with those yam wedges! That was painful watching you choke those down!

  • Mark Riebel

    BC, I make my post-WOD yams up by mashing them and mixing in a little cinammon and protein powder. The recipe is pretty similar to M’s shakes, but it’s a bit like pudding. Either way, I find it easier to stomach than just chunks of yam or sweet potato.

  • Calvin

    Mark, you have to give credit to BC. Eating chunks of yam is very Paleo.

  • Chris

    Fun WOD this morning! I was going to try 155#s, but got the ‘negative’ nod from CJ after he observed me executing a reverse curl/heave-up/partial good-morning combo move…..Bee Charmer style. Scaled to 135 and posted a 10:38 🙂

    Once again, our studly CF women were killing it. Cynthia, Jen, Jessica, Kari, Dani, and Christina were getting after those power cleans. Great job ladies!

    I think I saw Justin box jumping to the roof and power cleaning a telephone pole. Nice work dude!

    Welcome to our new friends Jessi, Adam and Chris. Glad to meet you all.

    As per ’42 Ways to Skin the Zone’ (authored by our fav nutrition guru, Robb Wolf), I am trying to scarf down 50% of my daily carb blocks within 30 minutes of the WOD. Cynthia, it was rough choking down those sweet potatoes and I had to break out an apple. I have to admit, it’s no fun gobbling down whole foods after a WOD. It’s an experiment. We’ll see how it goes.

    On day number eight of a 17 block Paleo/Zone prescription. So far, I’m feeling much more energetic and a bit leaner. I decided to commit to working extra hard at ‘truly’ dialing in the nutrition piece (and let me tell you my friends… is WORK!).

    Thanks for the encouragement Dani!

    ~BC out….

  • Chris

    Mark- Thanks bro, I’ll try it.

    Cal-Thanks for the Paleo pointers on Saturday. “So easy, a caveman Could do it”, right?

  • It was a great morning. Really fun WOD and definitely a lot of hard-working CrossFitters.

    Bee Charmer, you hang in there. I promise it will be worth it. Although I do think we can come up with some more creative and tasty ways to get you the carbs in the morning. Choking down yam chunks may be unnecessary torture.

    Have a great day everyone.

  • Chris

    I think I spotted our very own Frank and Tausha in the mainsite photo of this past weekend’s Level 1 Certification @CFSD. Congrats you two!

  • Tausha

    Thanks BC. Frank and I had a blast! Sore as all hell today but it is a good thing. I ripped calases off both hands on Friday’s WOD so you can imagine how painful Fran was on Saturday. I recommend everyone attend a Level I Cert. We had an amazing group of coaches and met some really great people. I must share with you all one common theme I had experienced all weekend. It was in regards to CJ and his ‘unconquerable’ box. There was not one coach who didn’t comment on how lucky Frank and I were to belong to the Invictus family with such an elite group of trainers. Such high praise and accalades came from the likes of Greg Amundson, Andy Stumpf, Pat Barber, Josh Everett, Jolie and Rachel Medina. I knew the first day I met CJ he was someone special. The more people I meet in the Crossfit community, the more I see my feelings are shared by so many.

    Funny we make it on the mainsite and I have my eyes closed :)!

  • Coryna

    M, your best post yet!

    I had to hit this WOD solo this afternoon (damn night class I teach… why does my job have to get in the way of CF 🙂 ?)

    Also, since the CF Nutrition Cert this weekend, I have really been trying to stick to this Paleo-Zone diet. Cynthia, I am cutting some carb blocks and subbing in fat blocks too. So far loving it!! MASSIVE amounts of avocado are being ingested!!! I bought some almond butter in hopes that I can wean myself off of PB (and all legumes 🙁 ). Let’s cut the crap, it is just not as good, but it will do. Anyone want about a half a dozen cans of the musical fruit? Pinto, black and kidney up for the taking…

    WOD specs: scaled to 90# cleans, 24″ box, kipping pull-ups: 9:25.

    Get after it night crews!!!

  • Linda

    thanks for the 930 workout, it was great. i have only been back training at CF for a week now and i feel great. love getting to know everyone. thanks for all the support, now just need to get the nutrition aspect down. see you tomorrow 🙂

  • Linda

    been working the zone, but think i need to change it, any suggestions?

  • Mark Riebel

    Linda, I’d love to offer you some help, but I’ll need to know more about what it is you think you need to change and what kind of goals you have. Shoot me or one of the other coaches an email and we’d be happy to help!

  • M


    Bring me your food log next time you come in! I’ll be happy to take a looksie…wah ha ha…

  • Adam

    CF Invictus – Thanks for the great workout yesterday. You guys rock.

  • Linda

    oh crap, in trouble now.. k i dont have a food log,, obviously thats the first change.. but i can tell ya what i eat. will chat with you guys tomorrow about it. thanks for the coaching, love you guys!!!

  • courtland

    Best blog at CFI so far. Absolutely the kind of stuff I should read every morning. Thanks.

  • courtland

    And I am not just saying that because I was cited therein.

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