Let’s be real: with any worthwhile strength and conditioning program, there will be suffering.

Building your body up requires breaking it down first. Unfortunately, there is no way around the discomfort of a hard workout.

However, there is a better way through the “pain cave.”

Steelworks client, Nathan W., churning through his backward sled drags!

By employing a variety of mental strategies developed through the US Army’s Mental Resilience Training (MRT) protocol, you can elevate your tolerance of discomfort in real time and better evaluate your thoughts and emotions to reduce future unproductive behaviors.


When you know that you have a real shit kicker of a workout ahead of you, identify a typical train of thoughts that seeps into your thoughts. For example,

“Every time I have a conditioning workout over 15 minutes, I gas out and die.”

The next step is to identify the beliefs about the thought. For example,

“I’m such a weak person.”

Finally, identify the emotional and behavioral consequences of the event. For example,

“I will feel pain and I will be disappointed with myself for giving up.”

Now, it’s time to separate the belief from the event. Instead of dwelling on the negative belief, insert a positive one in it’s place.

“Sure the workout is going to hurt, but I’m going to focus on performing every rep with as much focus and quality as possible.”

Going through this pre-workout routine will help you fall back on a positive affirmation when things start getting difficult.

Capture and disperse catastrophic thinking patterns by using evidence, optimism, and perspective.

Some examples:
This workout is crushing me.” Counter that with “That’s not completely true because you are still really moving with good form and technique.”

I would rather be anywhere else besides this horrible workout.” Counter that with “A better way of seeing this is that it hurts right now, but I am becoming stronger with every rep!”

Everyone else is so much stronger than me.” Counter that with “the most likely implication is that I’m worried about how I look in front of others, but remember: I’m working out for me. Not someone else! I’m going to do my best!

It’s really easy to fall victim to negative thoughts and self talk, but with these simple strategies you can start to build the mental resilience necessary to support you throughout your fitness journey.

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