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                    How to Train Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Motocross requires extreme physical and mental toughness.  But, much like the physical side, your mental attitude
and toughness must also be developed.  I talk about this topic in
Motocross Fitness, but I wanted to share with
everyone my response to one MXF reader's question.  I also include a couple of exercises that you can do to help
develop mental and physical toughness.  This reader asked how to develop mental toughness to help his racing.  
Here's my answer:

    "To answer your question, there are many things that you can do to improve your mental toughness.  I
talk about this in Motocross Fitness, but I will give you a brief summary.

    First, no matter the exercise or activity, you have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.  Whether
it is strength training, running, biking, or riding the motorcycle, you have to push beyond your normal
range as far as being comfortable.  

    However, you need to understand that you don't do this unless it is safe.  Don't try to lift weights that are
too heavy or ride faster than you are capable.  It has to do with pushing yourself physically to be
uncomfortable such as where you are breathing hard or your muscles are shaking, etc.

    Let me give you a couple of exercises that you can do to practice this concept that are safe.  In previous
writings I have mentioned doing pullups with ropes or towels over the bar.  You can do this but instead of
doing the pullups, just hang from the ropes as long as you can before you have to let go.  You could also do
this from just the pullup bar.  

    Regardless of what you use, do this for time and try to increase the time at each workout.  This will
require both physical and mental toughness on your part.  It will hurt and be uncomfortable, but you need
to force yourself to hold on for as long as you can.  Try to constantly improve and fight through the pain.  
This exercise will work your upper body muscles, and it will develop your hand, finger, and forearm
strength (grip).

    Another exercise that teaches mental and physical toughness is called the Wall Chair.  Simply put your
back against a wall and slide yourself down into a sitting position without anything supporting you.  Make
sure the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor with no support under your butt.  Keep your back and
head against the wall and hold this position for as long as you can.  

    It will hurt and be extremely uncomfortable after a few seconds, but you need to hold it as long as you
can.  You can repeat for several sets.  Again, try to increase your time at every workout.  This is painful,
but it will teach you to concentrate and fight through the pain.  It is also a good leg exercise that you can
do without weights.  

    This type of training will come in handy when you are in a long moto and you start to get tired (or any
other sport or game), but you have to push through it and finish strong.

    When you are confident that your in great shape, then you become mentally stronger also.  A positive
attitude and confidence in your fitness and skills are important in improving your mental toughness."

I want to add a third exercise that will help with physical and mental toughness.  Get in good pushup position on the
floor with your back and legs straight.  Do a few pushups, then hold yourself in the up position for as long as you
can.  
     
When you can't hold it at arm's length any longer, rest yourself on your forearms but keep your back and legs
straight in pushup position (this is a
plank position).  Hold this position as long as you can.  You will find that when
you are on your forearms that you are working the muscles of your midsection (stomach and lower back).  It will
become quite painful, but you need to fight through the pain as long as you can.  

                                                            
Pushup to Plank Position











YOU
have to learn to push yourself when something becomes uncomfortable for you.  When you force yourself to
do this on a regular basis, then the difficulties of your sport will become easier for you to handle.
     
There are other things that you can do to develop the quality of toughness, but these exercises should be a good
starting point for you.

I hope this information is helpful to those of you who need to work on this aspect of their training.  These exercises
can be quite beneficial when used with a regular training program.

Good Luck and Train Hard!