The Will to Win: Using the Competition to make you Stronger

There are many talented and hard working athletes. So what separates the champions from the contenders, the apex predators from the rest of the food chain? Simple: It comes down to willpower.

You must develop an unbreakable internal willpower that is so strong that it will drive you forward no matter what conditions you face or who your competition is. You have to know that regardless of the odds ahead or the size of the fight in front, you will endure and succeed.

WHY IS WILLPOWER IMPORTANT?

When we move towards the outer edges of our athletic limits, it is often willpower that carries us over the threshold and allows us to break into new territory, into the zone where PRs are made and competitions are won.

Think back to the last time that you were in that dark place during the Wod. Your body was on fire and every rep felt like murder. Every lift seemed twice as heavy as the last, and all you wanted to do was collapse onto the floor in a heap of sweat and mangled limbs. But you didn’t. You kept going and you finished. The reason you didn’t quit was down to willpower and discipline. Both of these are interconnected, and can be developed and trained.

Under Armour will to win
The will to win is essential for athletes

PRACTICAL WAYS TO IMPROVE WILLPOWER:

One of the marks of a great Crossfitter is an individual who knows that improvement is always possible. Here are 6 techniques that you can utilise in order take control, RULE YOURSELF and use the competition to make you stronger. Push beyond your perceived limitations in order to achieve your ultimate goals. Remember it’s what Crossfit athletes do in the dark, when no one is watching, that ultimately puts you in the spotlight you deserve.

1 SACRIFICE AND THE ABILITY TO DELAY GRATIFICATION:

Sacrifice is a necessary part of achievement. Training is hard work and takes time. You have to put in the hours, simple as that, and this is one of the strong links between willpower and discipline.

Anyone can complete the Wod when they feel great, or work through the lifting routine when they are fresh. It is those who make themselves get up, thrown on their gear, and complete that early morning run in the wind and rain when it’s the last thing on their mind; or will themselves to finish the final few sets of heavy Deadlifts when they are already spent and their grip feels so weak that they can barely hold an empty barbell. Those are the characteristics that forge willpower.

‘Understanding that you will have to be uncomfortable and work hard, yet stick to your principles and plan, is what sacrifice is all about.’

  • When you make yourself do the things you MUST in order to succeed, not just the things you WANT to do, then you are training your willpower, and you are making yourself stronger mentally.
giselle does crossfit
RULE YOURSELF

Additionally, you are developing your ability to delay gratification. Most people expect things to be easy and to happen quickly, but this is rarely the reality. When you set your heart and eyes on a bigger prize, you understand that it will take longer to achieve, but when you do, it is all the sweeter for the wait. You develop your ability to think long-term, and so make sacrifices in the short term in order to achieve that goal. This will give you an edge over your competition, and make you monitor your progress over a larger time period.

2 VISUALISATION

Simply put, this means seeing yourself completing the goal that you want to achieve. From Michael Phelps and Tom Brady to many top tier Crossfit athletes, A great number of these great athletes use this technique to win.

They imagined themselves placing perfect passes and plays, destroying their opponents in the pool and powering their way through hardcore Wods. You can do the same, imagine yourself hitting the PR that you want, watch it through in your mind like a video on repeat, as if you were a spectator in your own Box. Keep replaying it again and again in your mind and watch your lifts numbers go up.

3 TRAINING YOUR WILLPOWER AND BUILDING GOOD HABITS

In Crossfit competitions you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. This is important because the willpower that you have forged through hours and hours of hard training in the right gear now comes into effect. All the noble sacrifices you made, all the good habits that have become normal for you, the early morning workouts, the clean diet, the heavy Deadlifts and everything else that you have gradually disciplined yourself to do now pay off. You understand the joy of missing out, because you are focused on higher goals.

crossfit man toes to bar
It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light

The cumulative effects of your training have not only made you physically stronger, but also made you incredibly mentally resilient. Aristotle said that:

 ‘95% of all behavioral habits are learned’

The interesting part of this concept is that it shows how behaviour is acquired and learnt. Your job, through training your willpower, is to make sure that good habits are reinforced and repeated, and bad habits phased out and destroyed.

4 ONE STEP AT A TIME

People often give up not because they lack willpower, but because they are overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. Breaking a Crossfit goal down into manageable chunks will make it easier, and reinforce your self-belief that you CAN achieve this goal! If you want to add 10kg to your Clean & Jerk PR, it isn’t going happen in a week. Plan out an organized strength program and work through it over a longer period of time. Be happy with each 2kg jump that you make. Over time, incremental stages create large results.

‘If I want it, I’ll work for it. If I’m working for it, I’ll work until I get it. So yes, I get what I want’

5 EXTENDED WILLPOWER

This concept means surrounding yourself with people that will help you accomplish your goals, not hold you back. It also extends to your environment, eating choices etc. In times of high stress we all tend to fall back on bad habits. For example, if you have a sweet tooth and crave ice cream in times of stress, instead of deciding whether or not to go to the freezer and have a bowl, just don’t buy it in the first place. Create an environment that encourages you to succeed, and that reinforces and develops your willpower.

Giselle does crossfit
The joy of missing out: Achievement is always worth the sacrifice

Training is a focus point of every athletes life, and the sacrifices you make are less significant that the achievements you will obtain. There is a sense of control and strength that comes through sacrifice, a joy of missing out, that serves as a constant reminder that it is what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.

6 USE THE COMPETITION TO MAKE YOU STRONGER

The same is true of the people that you train with. Seek out Crossfitters that are faster, stronger and better than you and keep working until you catch up with them and overtake their abilities. Competition in Crossfit makes it exciting and pushes everyone to improve in the long run. Never become a big fish in a small pond.

RULE YOURSELF. I WILL

We all have that silent switch in our minds, the one that we turn on when everything else is gone. When the reserves are dead and the tank is dry, where do we find new fuel? The answer is through willpower. This is the time when the victors rise to the top and the rest give in. This is the realm where you RULE YOURSELF, and will your way to victory. Remember, it’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light. Go out and smash it.

‘There is only one corner of the world that you can be sure of improving, and that’s your own self’ Aldous Huxley

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.

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