top of page

Mental Conditioning Training: Why this is a KEY part of mental toughness

"There may be people who are more talented than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do." Derek Jeter

Any athlete that is pursuing or has pursued elite performance, knows the amount of training and slight suffering needed to really improve in their sport. This slight suffering is what we tend to call "conditioning"... For most people they think it only entails extreme endurance or anaerobic HITT until you puke... However, there is much more to the concept of conditioning than we realize.

Mental conditioning is a key aspect of mental toughness

Conditioning, in physiology is a behavioral process whereby a response becomes more frequent or more predictable in a given environment as a result of reinforcement, with reinforcement typically being a stimulus or reward for a desired response. This means the more we do something, the better we can be prepared for specific events, and the better we can respond to the situations.

When athletes train to improve fitness levels it typically involves specific weight lifting programs and cardiovascular training. For example, if training to be a gymnast than calisthenics and powerlifting will be majority of the training. Now compared to a Tour Cyclist, who needs long hours of endurance workouts and VO2 Max training. Both athletes need to do physical conditioning, but the type varies depending on their sport.

One way of "conditioning" is not better than the others, it just matters what techniques will enhance their performance.

Many athletes wanna be like Mike or Tiger, but are they willing to work like they did? That's the ultimate question. When it comes down to talent and hard work. Maybe "talent" is just instinctive nature accumulated from generational hard work...? Think about that, how many pro athletes have parents that were athletes, and then the kids turn out to be better than their parents. Why? because they were "conditioned" to be better. Not just from physical training, but from an upbringing in an environment and having healthy social relationships that will breed success.

When people focus on "conditioning" they tend to overlook the simple things and go straight to the advanced approach, i.e physical workouts and extreme training. But, just their environment and social relationships alone can make an individual better than another... Why? because mentally they have better skills than other athletes, which allows for better decision making in competition, and or motivation in practice and training. Therefore, we need to dial in on these other components before we jump straight into just physical conditioning.

Physical "conditioning" by the means of workouts or training, is used to create fitness levels that are needed to withstand the duration of competition at elite levels. When athletes push themselves past limits they thought existed, they create more resilience and tenacity to achieve elite performance. But, the mental fortitude that is created through this physical grind, is what truly helps athletes develop to their best potential and create a stronger intrinsic belief system of their limits and abilities. Therefore, the athletes who tend to put in the most work, usually have the strongest mindsets. So the more we push ourselves, the more resilient our minds' can become to pain and fatigue. No pain, no gain... ;)

Mental "conditioning" is an aspect that is definitely a by product of physical conditioning, but there is even more specific techniques that can enhance this overall capacity. Such as meditation, ice baths, mind games, puzzles and anything developing cognitive functionality. The focus of this type of conditioning is to improve decision making, problem solving, breathing techniques, mental focus and patience. When we enhance these skills, our ability to push our physical conditioning increases and has a butterfly effect for the potential of improvement.

Environmental "conditioning" refers to the factors around us we can not control. Such as where we live or the cultures we're raised in. Of course we can not change where we are born or the cultural connections to different sports, but our environment plays a bigger role in our mindsets than we realized. If an athlete is in a healthy and comfortable environment, then they will be more inclined to stay positive, brush off set backs and tap into their parasympathetic nervous system, which will promote more adequate rest and recovery. But, an athlete in a toxic and stressful environment will consistently have challenges to switch off their sympathetic nervous system, our "fight or flight" mode, which is what we use for training and competing. This will lead to under recovering, and that leads to mental burnout or physical injury. So the environment alone can make an athlete better or worse. Therefore, pay close attention to your environment and adjust according to what you want to achieve.

Social "conditioning" is another aspect that often athletes overlook. And this refers to the influence we get from family, friends, coaches and peers. If an athlete gets conditioned to be accustomed to positive reinforcement and a strong support team, then this will create potential for better bounce backs from setbacks and more confidence in ones ability as close individuals are keeping them on track and in a good state of mind. If an athlete is around negative people and a bad support system, then that athlete may lack self-confidence, self-esteem, and overall belief that their dream is attainable. So these athletes will need more intrinsic motivation to make it through the negative social relationships. Therefore, the people you listen to and hang around can be a BIG part of how far you can go. If you want to get somewhere, network with the people who are like minded and want to see you reach your goals.

Whenever we push our bodies to the limit we begin to truly know our full capacity. Complete "conditioning" teaches us that we can push ourselves physically and mentally past the invisible barrier that our mind thinks is the max. This barrier gets set through past workouts, experience of fatigue and pain through consistent hard work, the ceiling begins to go higher and higher. For many athletes the level of conditioning required to be elite is too much "work" to really compete, because it takes 100% passion to be a pro. Long training sessions and consistent fitness maintenance, eventually it adds up. For many it will lead to eventual burnout, but for some it's a way of living, and they wouldn't have it any other way. The routine created from this lifestyle can make it hard to return to a "regular" lifestyle and a 9-5 job. So many athletes even if they're not the best but good enough to compete at an elite level, will choose to take smaller salaries just for the opportunity to stay in that lifestyle.

So we can see that "conditioning" is a part of everyone's' life and we can only control so much of it. Depending on how high we want to reach in our athletic performances, it will take physical and mental conditioning plus smart choices in terms of environmental and social conditioning. Remember, conditioning means so much more than just physical training, so focus in on all these components and see where you can improve to level up your performances.

Looking for a coach to push your performance, don't hesitate to contact us

Stay Strong... Stay Healthy... Stay Consistent & Keep developing yourself

Level Up!



90 views0 comments

Featured Blogs

Mindset Performance TShirt

Are you having a hard time performing consistently or don't have the motivation to get to the finish line. Maybe sometimes you need emotional or mental support to get through a negative game or a confrontation at work. A Mental Strength coach is someone who is here to help you.

bottom of page