by Marcus Martinez
The best fighters in the world aren’t necessarily the strongest or fastest physically. What sets them apart from the average Joe (and even the better than average ones) is their mindset. In this article I want you to take away a couple of tools that will help you build an iron mindset that will take you through your hardest training days. You know those days I’m talking about. The ones where getting out of bed feel tough let alone facing hours of physically and mentally draining practice.
The first thing you need to realize is the success starts with one thing. You need to know EXACTLY what you want. I can’t stress that enough. I don’t care what level you’re at whether you compete in local grappling tournaments or you step foot inside a UFC octagon. You need to know exactly what you’re fighting for each and every day. It needs to be so crystal clear that when you close your eyes you can see it. From every successful fighter I’ve dealt with this was one of the main things that set him or her apart from the average athletes. If you don’t have this stop what you’re doing and figure it out. Becoming a thinking man or woman versus relying solely on the physical is much more powerful for your success.
1. Why am I doing this?
This incredibly important question is one I want you to ask yourself every morning.
“Because I’m good at it” is a response I’ve heard many times that doesn’t cut it. Why? Because someone you fight will be better at it and knock you down a couple times. This will make you question yourself and if you don’t have a powerful why you probably won’t last.
Success as a fighter (or in any area of life) is not some big event.
You don’t wake up in the UFC.
You don’t wake up rich.
Success is the culmination of seemingly mundane, everyday tasks performed day in day out.
Every time you step into the gym.
Every sparring session.
They all get added up into your success bank account that you’ll gladly withdraw when it’s fight time and you’re aiming to knock your opponent’s head off.
With that said here are two of my top tactics for any fighter to get to their mental game to the next level:
A clear, sound mind is like a sponge ready to absorb anything you feed it. Make sure it’s productive. One of the simplest and most effective ways at creating this mindset is meditation.
I know, I know. What’s with this hippy shit? Well, open your mind (pun intended). Meditation has a number of physical and obviously mental benefits. Meditation keeps you calm in stressful situations, heightens awareness, strengthens the immunity, keeps you focused, decreases Cortisol, and much more.
The most important thing with your meditation practice is to carry that state with you all day. That same feeling can be transferred to any situation making you mentally unstoppable. Even if you meditate for ten minutes, the benefits of that go further than just those ten minutes.
Intensity is important in your training and during competition, but a calm, focused, laser-like approach can be even more devastating to your opponent. Daily meditation will help with this.
The key with making meditation work for you is not to be so caught up on if you’re doing it right.
Here’s a simple technique that will get you started.
Set a timer (without a loud alarm/beep) for ten minutes. Do this in a place that’s relatively quiet. Your car before practice is a great place to do this. It will clear your mind for the work ahead. While sitting upright, close your eyes and get extremely comfortable (not so much that you’ll want to fall asleep). Count four seconds in. Hold four seconds. Count four seconds out.
Hold four seconds. Repeat until you’ve cleared your mind. At that point you’re simply going to be mindful of your breath. Random thoughts will pop in. Just let them come in and then move on. Don’t give them a second thought. The first few times you’ll feel extremely distracted with the most ridiculous things. This is completely normal. Just keep pushing yourself.
Some days will be easier than others, but the day you feel like you don’t have time or energy to meditate is the day you need it the most.
My challenge to you is try a ten-minute meditation every day for a minimum of two weeks.
Commit yourself to this simple task and I guarantee you’ll see a carry over into your fight life.
The devil’s in the details. How do you know you’re progressing? How do you know you’re getting better? The only way you can know is if you track daily and with extreme detail. Top performers in EVERY field track their daily actions, victories, losses, etc. This is how they know if they’re getting closer to their goal, what they need to improve on to get there, and where the bottlenecks are that are impeding their progress.
What are you going to be tracking?
Every evening I want you give yourself a progress report.
- How did your day go?
- Did you do what you said you were going to do?
- Did you train hard?
- What area do you need work in?
- What felt easy today?
- Where did you struggle?
The more detail the better, but this is a tactic I teach my clients who are looking to do more than lose a few pounds or get stronger. This is a performance tip for someone who is SERIOUS about succeeding. It’s something I do daily and trust me when I say it makes a big difference in a powerful way.
Just like I said earlier, you don’t wake up one day as an enormous success.
It’s the daily thoughts and actions that push you closer and closer to your ideal self.
Training your body is important, but sharpening your mind is even more crucial than most fighters give it credit. Take these two simple tools and start building a stronger, more focused mind. Give it the same (or more) effort than you do your body. Your body hates pain. It hates to be tired and sore, bloody and bruised. When your body wants to give up it’s up to your mind to take you through hell and back.
Take time to build your mind along with your body and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Marcus is the owner and founder of MBodyPro.com and the MBody Strength Training Center. MBodyPro is a site dedicated to spreading the word on making trainees better athletes. With over 150 streaming videos and tutorials you can get stronger and perform better no matter where you are in the world. He has trained professional fighters of all kinds including Cisco Rivera of the UFC, Ben Jones IFS Champ, Jack May of K1 and current 5-0 MMA Pro, and more. He was invited to perform his workshop on building stronger, better athletes in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has worked with members of the United States Secret Service.