Burpees for Your Brain: How to Get Mentally Stronger
I like burpees. It’s a full-body calisthenic and it builds both strength and endurance and gets your blood moving — essential components for being alive and being a Spartan. But there is another key component to burpees — it's a mental exercise. It helps build grit. The bottom line is that it’s f****** hard to do burpees. It's monotonous, it's tiring, and it’s boring. But if you want to level up in life, you’ve got to train more than just your muscles. Whether you're doing burpees or not, you’ve got to train your mind.
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At Spartan, we focus a lot on discipline, commitment, and eliminating excuses when it comes to getting you fit and physically healthy. The truth is, these same concepts apply to your mental health as well. Here's a breakdown:
You have to be methodical with your training. You have to remain committed to a set of daily practices. When you're tired, push through. When you’re not motivated, get something — anything — in. There is no problem that a long walk can’t fix. When life gets busy, too bad. Do some burpees — you’ll feel better.
Related: Increased Movement, Increased Thinking: Why Walking Is the Ultimate Productivity Hack
This discipline has to be a priority for your mind as well. The Spartan community is filled with people who know how to get s*** done when it comes to physical training, but sometimes that investment doesn't translate over to their mental game. The belief that doing the mental work is soft or only done by yogis is antiquated. Some of the most physically fit, badass endurance athletes are more regimented about their mental training than they are about their physical training. Look at my buddy Wim Hoff — that guy's a beast! His breath work and meditative practices train him to be so. It’s not the other way around.
You may have the best discipline in the world when it comes to your physical training, but what discipline do you have for the mental side of things? Ask yourself this: What do I need to do to level up my mental practices just one notch? Now execute.
Commitment to a strong mind is essential to the development of one. And here’s where we weave in your WHY. You may have to do some digging, but ask yourself: Why does a strong mind matter? If you can’t think big picture, make it small. Think of the next task that is ahead of you. How would a stronger mind make a difference in that task? AND, what kind of mental strength might you need?
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No one is asking you to become Deepak Chopra. I’m just asking you to flex your mind muscle, and this requires commitment. The inner critic that tells you to shut things down, quit, or walk away needs you to stay strong. It will have less chance of surviving if you remain committed in your practice to challenge it. The more you waffle, the softer your mind becomes.
When we teach you to train like a Spartan, we tell you to get rid of the excuses. Don’t have the right shoes? Go barefoot. Don’t have time to join a gym? Do burpees on your living room floor. Need to wait until after that big brief at work to sign up for a race? Wrong — do it now. The excuses get you nowhere. Excuses LIVE in your mind. You’ve got to find a way through them, and you absolutely can’t use them to opt out of the mental training you need.
You literally can do it in your head. There’s no fee, there's no wait list, and there IS unlimited time. You create your own space for mental training because it’s what you do between your ears. Nearly every choice you make is an opportunity to better train your mind. You just need to be more self-aware and tune into what you say to yourself throughout the day. We know that just 15 minutes of self-reflection every day can make you more productive. So cut the excuses and do the work — you’ll be better for it.
Related: No Excuses: How to Stop Procrastinating
My mom was incredibly invested in mental training. She was the first one who taught me how important it is to understand how the mind works. Countless successful entrepreneurs, Olympians, and world-renowned innovators have confirmed this on the Spartan UP! Podcast. So do the burpees for your brain every day.