Here is an excellent guest article by Matti Marzel on Mental Toughness in the Army. I know something about mental toughness but not about being in the army. Matti is fast up and coming as a very strong and enduring guy. I knew he was pretty good but after meeting him at the recent Super Human Training Workshop I got to see first hand just how much he could do. I mean he even beat my record in the snatch test. Enjoy!
Let’s take a trip down memory lane & go back in time 3 years ago! Which takes us to 2009. This was the time that I was still training to become Mentally & Emotionally TOUGHER! We trained all day long, With NO set plans, sets or reps or even breaks. We (me & my army comrades) were doing Army Specific Shooting & Maneuvering drills, spec-ops type skills & weapons training & a whole lot more! And if I would tell you everything that I did in my 3 years service, then I have to kill you afterwards! So I won’t tell about the missions, weapons & skills training anymore…
I won’t kill you though, that was a joke! What I wanted to talk about in this article is NOT about all the specific army type skill training that I did, but about the Training itself in the army, The Mentally, Emotionally TOUGH training that I’ve been through! And what made me into the man that I am today!
You see, training in an Elite Unit is NOTHING that you’ve ever seen or witnessed outside the army, people outside can’t possibly fathom the toughness that is required in an Spec-Ops Unit, both mentally & emotionally! Being able to go on & on & on without stopping whatsoever is NOT easy to do! That’s why they train soldiers to being able to go & take it that far over a long period of time… Every soldier that been in an Elite Unit will tell you that this is absolutely true!
To have the crazy ability to push forward & never give up, especially when the going gets really tough & you haven’t slept or eat a decent meal in days, is what they train you for & want you to achieve in an Elite Unit. They don’t give a damn about how muscular you are, how pumped up or big your arms or lats are. They don’t give a damn neither if you slept good the day before, Got your protein intake for that day or haven’t had your afternoon nap or your Vitamins & Minerals Supplements.
None of that matters in the army, at least where I was it didn’t. Again, they wanted me to become mentally TOUGH, that when the time came for a War, that I’ll be ready no matter what, whether I had a good full night sleep or not. Whether I feel fatigued or not. And as a matter of FACT, they want you to thrive when you’re completely fatigued, because that way you won’t break in a very stressful situation… let’s say for example: WAR!
Training to being able to do that for years has made me tough as nails & mentally & emotionally ready for whatever comes in my path! And it gave me the ability & mental focus to continue pushing (or pulling) forwards no matter what! Especially when the going gets really tough & unbearable!
Why do I talk about this & why does it sound like I’m bragging about my time as an Elite Soldier in the army? Very simple, and NO it’s not to make myself feel better or to toot my own horn or any of that crap. I talk about this to teach YOU, whoever you are that is reading this right now, to do the exact same! What I’m trying to say is that you DON’T have to go & sign up for the army & go through bootcamp & being broken both mentally & physically to get to this point & level in your training.
With practice every day, both mentally, emotionally & physically, you can achieve this kind of Mental Toughness in your own training, and in your own life… period! This kind of toughness both mentally, emotionally & physically carries over to every other part of your life as well! That is how it was & still is in my own life, and I will bet all my money on it that it will do the exact same for you as well! You just gotta believe in yourself & NEVER give up! No matter what!
It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on us, isn’t it? Especially when it comes down to training. I’ve seen many trainees & athletes, whether they’re couch potatoes just starting out or High level advanced athletes, giving up way too soon & way too early in their own training! Once again, it all starts with how you look at yourself & see yourself in your own mind! So the next time you’re going out there to do a very DEMANDING (for you) test or feat of strength, take a moment to visualize yourself being VERY STRONG both physically, mentally & emotionally as well! Once you can take yourself to that calm & happy place you’ll perform a lot better & more focused! ESPECIALLY under a lot of stress!
And that’s the kick in the head, a lot of times athletes & trainees, whether beginners or elite level, think that when you eat bad, sleep bad & have shitty conditions around you, you’re training will suffer big time & thus they avoid training under those conditions. I tend to agree with that, however, I’m also of a very strong opinion that when you learn to calm down & relax under severe stressful & bad situations, like the ones in an Elite Unit for 3 years, then you’ll be way better of in the long-term! Simply because you’ve learned to still perform & thrive under those conditions & still set NEW PR’s!
Now don’t get me wrong over here though, I’m not suggesting you deprive yourself of good quality sleep, food & rest. What I am saying however, is that you should train even when you haven’t had a good night sleep or very little sleep & train in odd hours when you don’t usually & normally train. The mental & emotional picture you gotta have in your mind is this: ALWAYS being ready to do anything, anywhere & anytime of the day, no matter what! It’s that laser focus vision & concentration that let’s you go from messing around & joking with your friends or family to becoming as serious & focused as a Samurai on a mission!
It will take practice & time to master this DEEP kind of mental & emotional focus & concentration! But once you start training it & keep paying attention to it, you’ll be surprised what kind of effect it can & will have on your training in the long run! You can turn pain & fear into focus & concentration! Thrive on fear, rather then shut your mind & body from it & trying to escape from it! This is the Loyal & Ultimate road to master these 2 dreadful feelings people have when they first start to train, or even for those that train for a long period of time!
I truly believe that this is one of the missing ingredients in serious trainees & athletes training these days! And like I said before, you don’t have to join the army & go through BRUTAL & Stressful training to get there, that’s a quickstart method to get there no doubt, But I know not everyone wants to go that route, and I’m not here to force them to. What I’m stressing so much over here is that you DO gotta use these same types of mental & emotional tactics & strategies to conquer those fears & pains that you have in training & make them your strongest points & allies in your training! When you do that, then I’ll guarantee you that your results will be Phenomenal & will blow your mind!
So take a moment each & every time before you start your training, bring yourself under hypnosis, visualize yourself being always ready to train hard as hell & going 100% for it, no matter what happens! You’re gonna do it & you will! There’s no stopping you! Unless you stop yourself! That’s yet another thing I learned in the army, and my sergeants & officers kept yelling this in my ears day in & day out:
Soldier: IT’S ALL IN THE HEAD!
And this is very true, everyone realizes this, whether they admit it or not. So my take away points in this article is: Start living in the zone, where you don’t even think you can’t do something, especially when it looks impossible & unreal to the normal society! Visualize & Imagine yourself being always on top of your game, even on your BAD & Stressful days, when all the odds are stacked against you! You’ll learn who you are personally on those days, Especially on those days!
And the most fun & awesome fact about this kind of mental toughness & state of mind in your training, is that when you do sleep very well, had a very good nap when you needed it & eat the best organic, raw & fresh foods out there, you’ll be even more stronger, conditioned & enduring then you would be if you didn’t put yourself through the Brutally Mentally tough training they put you through in the army.
This is food for thought! And once you really start to think about it in a deeper way, you’ll come to the conclusion that the human body is capable of dealing with a lot more stress & bad situations then you might think! Same goes for training, a lot of times even Advanced Athletes cut themselves short before they even reach they’re true maximum potential! Make sure you do NOT make the same mistakes as they do! Start training a lot more mentally then you do right now & Develop that Do or Die, Kill or Be Killed, Full Force Elite Commando Unit mentality… TODAY!
I’ll have another article for all of y’all in the future! But for now…
Make sure you check out Matti’s new site Ferocious Strength, read the articles he has over there, and sign up for his very interesting report on Emotional Anchors for training. Get it here.