How To Push Harder in Training


“Self-Talk That Works”

There are quite a few common types of self-talk that you may use during a WOD

Here are some examples:

Unhelpful  or Negative Self-Talk

Doubt/ Worry = “I hope I don’t mess up”          “I’m not strong enough to lift it”

Self-Doubt = “I’ll never finish in the time cap”           “I am terrible at this”

Frustration = “This pisses me off”             “Why do I even try”

Comparison =  “He beats me every time”       “She moves so much better than me”


Helpful or Positive Self-Talk

Calming/Relaxing = “Take a deep breath”         “Stay calm”           “Relax”

Instructional =  “Snap your hips”             “Push through the floor”

Motivational/Encouragement =   “Come on, let’s do this”             “I know I can get through it”

Focus on Present =  “Be here now”             “Focus on the task at hand”


I believe that instructional self-talk seems to be the MOST beneficial. By instructing specific movement cues, or parts of your body, you give yourself something to really focus on. You’ll likely improve your speed or efficiency by thinking about how to get through it.

I recommend instructional coaching when working with athletes, and instructional self-talk for athletes to use when they’re in a WOD.

Before a workout starts, I’d consider what cues would be helpful for EACH movement you are going to see in the workout.

Each of us are different, and we respond differently to certain words. The key is knowing what thoughts help you, and then implementing them with strong body language when the going gets tough.

Reminder: Whenever you have a thought that is distracting, negative or unhelpful, you can practice quickly giving yourself more positive, directional, effective thoughts and cues. This takes constant practice and effort, but the more you do it, the easier it will be (and the better the WODs will feel). You simply respond to the unhelpful thought with a MORE helpful one.

I’ll show you how in the video demo below.



Here is my voiceover of an athlete training. This video clip is part of a workout 12 min AMRAP: 250m Row, 10 burpees. I demonstrate how to combat  unhelpful thoughts and continue to give yourself positive reminders, or instructional tips, which are much more helpful.

1. Motivational/Encouragement– Example from the row/burpee video above: “I got this” “Just keep pushing” “When it gets hard, that’s when you get better”

2. Instructional Cues –  Example from row/burpee video above: “Push through your heels” “Stay in control of my breathing” “Hit the ground and explode back up”

3. Chipping Away/Counting – Example from the row/burpee video above: “I’m almost done, just a few more big strokes” “Last 3 reps, go, push, just 2 more…I can do 2 of anything”



A. What types of unhelpful self-talk, from the list above, do you use most often?


B. Write down at least 10 things you can say to yourself in a workout, that help you keep pushing and giving it your best.

*Consider what mantras, words, sayings, or instructional cues have been helping you recently.

*If you’re having trouble coming up with what you like to think during your WODs, consider what other training partners or coaches have said to you that helped you continue to push.


Here’s a list of some other positive, encouraging self-talk options that may be helpful for you. Now you have a list that you’ll be able to reference before your workouts, or you can use as a reminder of what to say to yourself when the going gets tough. Use what resonates with you!

“It’s not that bad”

“I’ve done way harder workouts”

“I get to do this”

“Challenge is good for me”

“I’m grateful to be able to push myself”

“It will feel soo good when I’m done”  

“Just keep chipping away”

“You’re stronger than this workout”

“Move as well as you can”

“Make every rep look the same”

“One rep at a time”

“I can do this”   

“Grind, it’ll be worth it”

“The harder it is, the greater the reward”   

“Don’t give up” 

“Anything is possible”

“Keep f*cking going”

“If it’s hard, it’s working”

Posted in


I’m Dawn Fletcher, the owner of MENTALITY WOD. I help driven-individuals perform better and achieve greatness in all that they do.

Reader Interactions


  1. Partha Banerjee says

    Hi Dawn,

    Funnily enough I actually recognised a number of the self-talks from whenever I’m working out, both positive and negative.

    I think we’re all a bit guilty of the “I’m never gonna make this”, etc. scenario, although nowadays I often catch myself doing this and then revert to a more positive frame of mind (I’ve been doing a LOT of “working on my mind” in recent years).

    I typically give myself instructional cues fairly often too, especially when my form is waning and I’m getting tired.

    However, your take of this being the most beneficial self-talk had never really occurred to me before, but it actually makes a great deal of sense.

    A lot to ponder here for me, but some great advice as well Dawn. It’s much appreciated.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *