Myth-Busters: "Mental Toughness is Built in the Gym!"

In our new Myth-Busters series, we’re shedding light on some popular training myths to help you continue improving performance in and out of the weight room.

@@Myth: Mental toughness is developed through grueling workouts and strenuous training.@@

Truth: Mental toughness is built OUTSIDE the gym, and expressed during training and competition.

“Mental toughness” is a popular term that gets thrown around a little too frequently. Many athletes equate mental toughness with the ability to suffer through long, grueling workouts—especially when they’re already fatigued. But in reality, athletes fatiguing at the end of a game has more to do with their conditioning levels than their “toughness.”

In fact, if you’re using a properly designed training plan, you shouldn’t have to wonder if “toughness” is a factor in your game at all! Mental toughness is certainly important for athletes, but it isn’t built in the gym—merely EXPRESSED in the gym. It’s built everywhere else, through the culmination of making good decisions, sacrificing short-term comfort for long-term reward, and holding yourself (and your teammates) accountable. 

The ability to grit your teeth and get through a hard workout would almost be too easy a way to get labeled “tough.” Especially because, in a good training plan, every workout should NOT be maximally hard—see our Myth-Busters on “More is Better!” to check out why!

Got any myths you'd like to see busted? Tweet your ideas to us @VoltAthletics!


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Jace Derwin, CSCS, RSCC, is one of the regular contributors to the Volt blog, and is the lead sport performance specialist at Volt Athletics. Jace manages Volt program design, content development, and educational resources for schools, clubs, and organizations. Jace is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®), and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Seattle Pacific University in Exercise Science. Follow Jace on Twitter @VoltCoachJace.