6 Rugged and Brutal Workout Finishers That Also Build Mental Toughness
Training should be a place where you get better – where your strength improves, your muscles grow and your lungs and heart become stronger. Training should also be a place where your mind grows – a place for the symbiotic relationship of the physical and the mental.
Search anywhere online and the muscle growth articles, the strength training plans and the aesthetics programs are pretty well covered. The mental, however, tends to get overlooked.
It’s a shame because, well, it’s not hard to fit it in either. It’s not going to require a huge overhaul of your current training program and it can be achieved by simply adding a short finisher or challenge onto the end of your training session.
Before you tell me that “you don’t have the time”, put the protein shake down, spend less time on your phone during your training, stop taking 100+ selfies a session and get sh*t done.
Being mentally tough is a must – in the gym and in life.
By their nature, challenges and finishers are short, intense workouts. They can be as little as 10 minutes and more often than not, no more than 20. In such a short time frame though they offer up a host of benefits – fat loss, improved conditioning, strength endurance, some extra muscle building volume and most importantly, and the reason I’m writing this right now, mental toughness.
Mental toughness is forged through facing adversity. You need to beat yourself down and feel your chest beating. Feel the fire in your throat, the shaking muscles and the mind screaming “stop.” You need this beat down.
You maybe asking yourself, “Why do I need this kind of torture, I’m not training for a competition or anything?”
My answer is simple. It makes no difference to me if you are training for something or not. Life is by far the biggest competition and, like it or not, we are all in it. Having your weaknesses exposed during training allows you to learn something about yourself.
You then get to build yourself back up and be stronger and more confident for doing so.
Training in this manner builds a solid mind, along with physical prowess.
Brutal and Mentally Tough Workout Finishers
Challenges and finishers take many forms and I’ve heard all the excuses for not doing them. So, I’m including a variety of options that should fit into any training environment, be it the gym, home, on deployment, in the woods, after a martial arts lesson, wherever.
2 Brutal Bodyweight Finishers
- 20 push-ups/12 pull-ups
- 18 push-ups/10 pull-ups
- 16 push-ups/8 pull-ups
- 14 push-ups/6 pull-ups
- 12 push-ups/4 pull-ups
- 10 push-ups/2 pull-ups
All the reps and sets are done consecutively and the rest between is kept minimal. Although the reps may be fairly modest, the intensity gets cranked up pretty quickly. You want a mega pump? Give this one a go.
Like always though, form is key. No kipping pull-ups. Pull-ups too tough? Substitute them for chins or even inverted rows. Push-ups too tough? Not my problem, get tougher!
- Bear Crawl x 50 yards/Sprint x 50 yards
Keep low, back flat and the movement smooth and controlled through the full 50 yard bear crawl. When you reach the 50 yard marker, immediately stand and sprint a further 50 yards.
A football field works great for this gruelling simple combo. Repeat this anywhere from 3-6 times. This truly is a heart pounding, dig deep and keep moving combo.
2 Savagely Simple Challenges
- Heavy Sandbag Carry for 10 minutes straight.
As simple as it sounds, just load up a heavy sandbag, clean it up and carry it for 10 minutes straight.
Mix up the style of the carry for the duration: Zercher, overhead, one shoulder, both shoulders, bearhug… This is a true test of mental fortitude. Fight through, keep moving forward and get tougher.
Bastard Hill Sprints
- Sprint up a hill at 90% speed, then walk down.
- Immediately run up the hill 50% speed, and, again, walk down.
- Finally, walk up the hill with a military rhythm, and walk back down.
The three above make up one rep. The challenge is to complete five of the above reps.
This is a bit of an awkward challenge to write. Each and every hill will be different in steepness and length. Use good judgment. If the hill you’re using take only 10 strides to the top, then it’s probably not going to be that tough to make the 5 reps. Likewise, if it takes you 2 minutes to sprint to the top, then 5 of the above reps is going to be an absolutely brutal challenge.
2 Weight Room Beat Downs
666 – Number of the Beast
- Kettlebell/Dumbbell snatch x 6
- Kettlebell/Dumbbell Push-press x 6
- Kettlebell/Dumbbell Front squat x 6
- Performed 6 times total (three each hand)
The three exercises are performed one after the other, all with one hand. After a brief rest, the complex is then repeated using the other hand. The whole complex is performed six times in total – three with each hand.
Go moderate with the weight upon first attempt. The workload soon creeps up and the grip will get fried. Feel free to use either a dumbbell or a kettlebell. In all honesty, it makes no difference and comes down to preference.
45lb Plate Walk
- Walk around holding a 45lb plate for 5 straight minutes
Much like the sandbag carry above, this really is as simple as it sounds. Grab a 45lb plate and get walking. Think this sounds easy? After the five minutes is up you’ll be very aware of your upper back, grip, forearms and mid section. Feeling particularly tough? Rest and go again for a further five minutes. If you’re feeling unstoppable, then try two 45lbers for the five minutes.
I’ve done my bit. At the end of the day, these are just words on a screen. So, it’s up to you now to do that bit more at the end of a few of your sessions. Just two a week is enough to see the benefits.
Step up and give one a try. Aside from the improved conditioning, fat-loss, GPP and all the rest, these challenges and finishers will build mental muscles, make you tougher and push you further. People may look at you like you are a little crazy, but to quote Aristotle:
“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.”