Mental Toughness in Training and Competition

The picture featured here is of Scott Cummine after he attempts to pull a 781lb deadlift with an already ruptured biceps tendon. This man shows us time and again what it takes and why he has risen to compete at 2 World’s Strongest Man appearances. Although he missed the weight due to further arm injury he did not quit showing incredible mental toughness for the rest of the day!

Today let’s touch on mental toughness and its importance for success in the sports of Strongman and Strongwoman. First, it needs to be said that this sport can be participated in at many different commitment levels. From the recreational beginner who does it only as hobby to those who dream of being champions and competing at the highest level. This post is directed at those athletes interested in developing a champion’s mind and driving to the very top. It is also in no way meant to be taken negatively by those who do not live and breath this sport everyday.

Strong(wo)man is one of the toughest and most gruelling sports out there both physically and mentally. Like other strength sports (powerlifting and weightlifting) it is 100% an individual sport. For this reason the highs of winning can be very high but the lows that come with bad performances can be very low. Win or lose, it’s your fault! For this reason it requires an athlete to focus an incredible amount on their mental game. Too many times great physical potential gets snuffed out by mental weakness. Are you willing to go out time and time again and get your ass kicked all the while knowing it will make you better in the end? Are you willing to compete at every opportunity knowing that every competition whether you win or lose horribly will teach you something valuable? Is it hard competing in contests that require you to compete on back to back days? Is it going to be tough to do an important qualifying contest only to then go lay it all on the line the next weekend in the main event? How about competing 6-10 times per competitive season? Yes, but that is all part of our sport. All of these things make up your grit and develop you into that champion you are so driven to be. Do you just up and quit during competitions even though just a little more effort could give you the points to move up a placing? If yes, then check yourself and never do that again.

Can you handle pain? If not then maybe you should find another sport. Just the aches and pains from day to day training can be overwhelming so being tough is so important. What is even harder is competing throughout the competitive season and always dealing with some sort of pain or injury. Sometimes it is something small like tendinitis in a biceps or a knee. Other times it means catering to a partially ruptured muscle that may or may not tear off in the next competition. Every strongman or strongwoman who has been at this for any period of time has come to understand this. This is a very intense sport and when everything is put on the line injuries happen.
In our gym alone there has been 4 ruptured biceps tendons, 2 ruptured quadriceps tendons, 1 ruptured achilles tendon, and 3 ruptured acl ligements. This only covers the injuries that required surgery not those of a chronic nature and honestly some may have been missed from this list. In spite of this we all love what we do and most injuries do not end competitive careers. Again it very much comes down to mental toughness. Does getting hurt suck? Hell yes! What hurts more is the 6-9 months of recovery after surgery. This hurt is a little physical but mostly it’s emotionally draining. All we want to do is get back to training. An athletes mental toughness is what dictates how an athlete comes back after a major injury. You must rely on that other side of mental toughness that means actually listening to your body and doing what’s best for your recovery and not your ego. With a positive outlook and determination most athletes can bounce back better than ever.

In spite of Scott’s biceps rupture he will be more than ready to kick ass and take names by this years Western Canada’s Strongest Man because that’s what champions do!