≡ Menu

Getting it done

Andy gets the work done, with our without the gym bag.

As a trainer, I get asked questions all the time. One of our members sent me the following email after a discussion we had earlier in the week. My reply is included.

Post your thoughts, personal experience, and book recommendations to comments.



I shared your Michael Jordan quote from this week’s WOD’s with my jogging class tonight.  One guy actually laughed at the benefits of failing.

I found a theory that I like about why I can do more exercises when someone is doing them next to me. There was a study done in 1968 that concluded people could put out 20% more energy when someone was next to them doing the same exercise. This author says that we are drawing on our competitive instinct. He makes it sound like it is not possible to draw on this extra energy when we work out alone.

competitive instinct theory




Hi Mark

Thanks for sharing the article!

I like where your thinking is going with this!

Couple of things come to mind:

1. The 1968 study done at a University with a “bunch of students” that demonstrated higher power outputs in paired students over students cycling solo does not make it a “fact”.

2. What would’ve been the outcome if I took a 3rd set of students, and before having them attempt the same challenge, took a moment to work with their mindset. Could we produce the same 20% improvement, or greater, by having them set some internal motivation to excel?

I’m convinced that we can create, using our imagination and with practice, an identical or near identical mindset to the one that would exist in competition or emergency situations, that would effectively drive us to higher levels of performance more consistently in training.

What makes this mental shift difficult is the aspect of choice. When we have a choice to push ourselves or let ourselves coast, as in a normal training day, most of us will coast. In competition and emergency situations, the choice has been removed for us and we will spend everything we have to win or survive.

In the realm of CrossFit, we want our highest power output (intensity). One of the reasons we use the group format is to get that extra push that competition provides. Though that push is helpful, especially in the beginning, we don’t need it. Everything we need is inside us already.

Competition helps to shift our state of mind and bring out our best effort. We can use the effect of competition on our mind as a form of practice. We can train our brain to flip a switch from “everyday thinking” to “go time!” at will.

For myself, I experience this happen as the clock starts it’s countdown signal. Something in my thinking changes as soon as I hear those beeps. It brings me back to competition, even when I’m alone. Adrenaline starts to pump and anything I was thinking about previously, anything I was concerned with disappears and there’s only the task at hand and my willingness to go deeply into that uncomfortable place of an all out effort.

As part of my mental training, which began in earnest, maybe five years ago. I started measuring my effort by counting how many times in a WOD I surrendered to the discomfort – that I mentally let off the throttle. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about needed recovery to complete another rep, but “resting”, which for me is is defined as “being unwilling to endure any more pain.”

Though my goal is always zero “rests”, I don’t often hit my goal. Back to that choice thing, again.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts.

If you’re interested in some further reading into this, I have two book recommendations for you.

In Pursuit of Excellence – 4th Edition

10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins

I have both of these in the library if you want to borrow them.

Thanks and see you soon!


Workout of the Day

For max load:
Forward grip pull-ups, 1-1-1-1 reps
Reverse grip pull-ups, 1-1-1-1 reps

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • carney March 13, 2014, 3:48 pm

    Forward grip pull-ups (chest to bar)
    13.5, 14, 14.5, 15 kgs
    Reverse grip pull-ups (chest to bar)
    26.5, 27.5, 28.5, 29.5 kgs

    Best on the reverse grip is 45 kg, so relatively weak day. 100% effort doesn’t always get you 105% output – No PR.

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post: