3 Elite Mindsets That Can Help You In the Gym and Life
When it comes to being tough or getting fit, nobody knows it better than the Navy SEALs. They are some of the most elite athletes and warriors on the planet.
What many people don’t know, is that what makes them not only fit and tough, isn’t just a series of physical workouts – but also a series of mental ones.
Elite Mindsets That Can Upgrade Your Results
Mindset #1: “I’ll Die Before I Quit.”
The very first thing is the mindset, “I will die before I quit.” I recently talked to multiple friends that have been in various branches of the military. One of them was a SEAL, and the other was a ranger.
One of the things that comes up quite a lot is that the physical challenges are difficult. But there’s a caveat. The actual physical work of getting through the BUDS, the core training, the hell week—all of the physical challenges are hard. More than that, they’re designed to weed out the people who don’t have the mental fortitude.
Many of them shared with me that you can do the physical challenges if you are already fit, or if you can grin and bear the pain.
If you already take good care of yourself and prepped for the challenge you’ll survive. But that would make it kind of easy, because then anyone could be ready for it.
The point is for it to be so difficult, so mentally taxing, requiring so much mental grit and strength that a lot of people will quit. That’s what it is designed to. It’s designed to make you quit.
Take a look at Army Rangers (not the SEALs, but also another incredibly hardcore specialty group). They are one of the most elite branches of the military. Part of their training is sleeping zero to four hours per day for months and having a calorie-restricted diet.
Sometimes they’re so deprived that I’ve heard of guys falling asleep standing, hitting their face, and still not waking up. It’s a level of sleep deprived where they’re hallucinating. They don’t even know where they are or what’s going on.
That requires mental grit to keep going when tons of other people would’ve quit. Obviously, the dropout rates are incredibly high.
But the thing is, if you think about having the mindset of “I will die before I quit”, don’t you think it’d be a lot more likely that you could reach whatever health and fitness goal you want?
You could write a book.
You could travel the world.
You could become famous doing something that you love or care about.
If you have that I-will-not-quit-no-matter-what mindset, you’re going to push through a lot of stuff that everyone else would’ve given up on.
Mindset #2: Use Tactical Breathing To Stay in Control When Things Get Insane
The second habit that seems to come up quite a lot is this idea of tactical breathing.
I originally read a book called On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Dave Grossman studied psychology, particularly the psychological impact of war and violence on the body and mental state of people.
One particular chapter in his book talked about the physiological changes that happen to people, e.g. a SWAT team, as they barge into a room filled with gun-wielding criminals.
At a certain level, when their heart rate gets high enough, they begin to develop tunnel vision.
They begin to develop auditory exclusion where they don’t hear things anymore.
They’ll register gunshots—they’ll hear them—but they’ll only remember them after. In other words, there’s an ideal threshold where you want your heart rate to be when you’re going into combat, because at a certain level, you begin to lose your fine motor skills.
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s useful to find ways to use the adrenaline for improved performance – since that’s what it’s designed to do.
On the Navy Medicine website, a short pamphlet overviews how it works:
Dave Grossman talks about it being four-four-four breath rate tempo.
As soon as things start to hit the fan – whether it’s the battlefield, gym, boardroom, or bedroom:
Breath in to a count of four
Hold to a count of four
Exhale to a count of four
If you want to prove to yourself just how quickly and effectively this works, track your heart rate while you’re stressing out, do ten of these, and then track it again.
When you feel that elevated heart rate creeping up (whether you’re a soldier in battle or is someone who’s called fat by a family member), you could do the four-four-four count before you stab your brother in the neck with a steak knife.
Or maybe you just follow through with it… hmmm.
Mindset #3: Use Inner-Game Affirmations
The third habit is probably not what you’d expect. You wouldn’t necessarily associate it with the military, but it has come up quite a lot, especially in the Rangers. It’s called the habit of affirmation.
Look at the Ranger motto here, which says at the very end,
“Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.”
Now, there’s a reason why affirmations are used by elite athletes and those in the military, as well as just ordinary people.
Whenever I want to quit, or don’t want to do something, I go through my five affirmations to make sure I keep going. And I do what I have to do, rather than just doing what I want to do, which is not going to help me reach my goal.
If you’re having a hard time with consistency, you can create some kind of affirmation similar to the Ranger motto. That you will do whatever it takes to reach your goal, because it’s important to you.
Maybe it’s an affirmation on not quitting, or trying to be more creative, or trying to bring other people into your projects, or having a positive mindset no matter where you are in your journey.
Your affirmation could be about any goal— whether it’s fitness, or writing a book, or having a happy family. Or, it could encompass all of them.
Your “Master the Day” Habit for Today
It’s tempting to just think about the physical workouts, doing the work, when it comes to getting fit or reaching our goals, but behind the scenes, it’s deeper.
Usually, behind all-star success there is also an associated number of mindset habits that you can’t see – but you can see the fruit of them.
For you, what’s been your own personal “code of persistence” that seems to work? Comment below.