Building Mental Toughness To Overcome Physical Obstacles

Written by: Rachael Moody, General Manager, O2 Falconbridge

Have you ever thought or said when it comes to your training/workouts the following: “I can’t do it,” or something like  “I’ve never been able to do that, so I know I can’t do it now.” Or we see someone else working out and think, “I’ll never be able to do that.”

The truth is at some point, we probably all have! These negative self thoughts can have a huge impact on your goals. Building mental toughness involves practice and training just like any exercise, movement, or in any sport.

So how can you overcome this?

I think the answer is more basic than you might think: Just practice positive self talk!  


Here’s my personal example:

I had hurt my hip last year and subsequently couldn’t back squat for several months. Once I was well enough to start squatting with weight I was second guessing myself on whether or not I could do it. I was self doubting my strength and ability: I was scared. It took baby steps, but I had to stand there at the squat rack and think I can do this, take a deep breath, then squat and drive back up. Every time I added weight during my strength cycle I struggled with overcoming my thoughts, but every time I would think “I can do this, I did it last time, just get one, then two, etc.”

It wasn’t easy but during the cycle I squatted 85% of my old one-rep max ten times, then squatted 95% of my old one-rep max four times!! This was a huge accomplishment for me as this was the most weight I had squatted in months which subsequently helped me to be not so apprehensive of back squats.

Acknowledge that not every workout will feel like a great workout.

Acknowledging that not every day will be a great day in my strength training but thinking and knowing that I can do it has also strengthened my mental toughness. Granted not everyone has injuries that they are over coming when it comes to their workouts. It may be your first time in a group exercise class or just your first time in a gym period!  My advice to you is you just have to try and think you can! Don’t be scared to try something new or something harder because you’re worried that it’s “too hard or impossible or that you will fail.” THINK YOU CAN will turn into KNOW YOU CAN which will turn into YOU CAN!!!

So challenge yourself over the next few weeks, try that group exercise class, boot camp, small group training class, or go set up a personal training session to learn something new! I know you can.  So go train your physical and mental toughness!

We can only do what we think we can do. We can be only what we think we can be. We can have only what we think we can have. What we do, what we are, what we have, all depend upon what we think. – Robert Collier

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