Book Review: 10 Minute Toughness by Jason Selk

by Sara Lee


Sara Lee’s Reading Corner

I compete in kettlebell sport, the NASCAR version of Olympic weightlifting, in which a competitor has 10 minutes to perform as many lifts as possible without resting. Being mentally tough for that 10 minutes is just as important as being physically up to the task. When I saw the title of this book, I knew it was a must read. This is an entire system designed to train your mind for success in 10 minutes per day. I chose the two elements I felt would be most beneficial to me and have been implementing them into my training for about the last 7 months with wonderful results. I have been using the 10MT and the Success Log.

The 10MT means 10 Minute Toughness and is the central component of the training system. This is approximately 10 minutes of prescribed visualizations designed to prepare you for your workout, practice, training, game or event.
Step 1: Take three centering breaths. Breathe in for a count of 6, hold it for 2 counts, then exhale for 7 counts.
Step 2: Say or visualize your Performance Statement. This is a short sentence or two that your coach would say to you right before you go on.
Step 3: Now it’s time to visualize your highlight reel. This has three components. First, mentally run through your greatest moments as if there was a special about you on ESPN. Next, visualize your next event that you are currently training for going perfectly. Finally, look into the future to your next big event, and imagine it going just as you have always dreamed.
Step 4: Now, repeat your Identity Statement. This can be a few sentences about who you are and why this makes you uniquely successful.
Step 5: Take one more centered breath.

Here’s how mine goes. I like to close my eyes and even say my statements aloud. I have also added a short affirmational statement with my centering breaths just because I find this statement helpful.

Sara’s 10MT:
-“I look forward to stepping on the platform.”
-3 centering breaths
-Visualize the past:
*the last few pushups, sit ups and meters of my best army PT test
*clawing my way up the top of a muddy hill in the Spartan
*hearing my name called as I cross the finish line of my favorite marathon
*getting a 9 rep PR at my last in house meet
*overhearing others praise my mobility, focus or attitude
*fighting for my last few reps with my PlantBuilt teammates cheering my on (It’s worth noting here that when I was visualizing the PlantBuilt meet, I imagined several of the teammates and Robert Cheeke watching my set, and that happened! There was virtually no one there when I went into the warm up area, but when I came out onto the platform, a huge mass of people including tons of PlantBuilt-res and the Man Himself showed up out of nowhere! I was blown away!)
-Focus on the near future:
*I imagine myself at my next in house meet, warming up and prepping my bells. Then I do the one arm long cycle at 24kg and take a flight off. Next I do the jerk at 2×16 kg and another flight off. Then it’s snatch at 16 kg and one more break. Finally, it’s the last flight of the day. I stand on the platform doing long cycle at 16 kg while coach does his last set as well. No matter what my numbers are, I finished all those sets and still feel great.
-Look into the far future:
*I see myself at nationals meeting for the first time all the lifters whose careers I follow. I am having a wonderful time seeing them all lift in person. When I’m up, I warm up, prep my bell and go out onto the platform. The timer starts, and I focus on each rep being perfect. Slowly they add up until I hit my numbers. I do as many extras as I can manage until the timer runs out. I put my bell down and look up. My husband and friends are all there smiling at me as I achieve Master of Sport.
-“I am relentless. I never quit. I have the power of the sun and 100 billion souls.”
-centering breath
-“I look forward to stepping on the platform.”

Use this template to build your own unique 10MT. You won’t be sorry!

Success Log
The other component of Selk’s system that I have adopted is the success log. This is tremendously useful. The concept is to PR something every single day. It only takes a moment and I promise it’s well worth the time. Immediately following your training, write down three things that went well, one thing to work on for next time and one thing to try differently. The next time you train, look at this list before you start. That’s it. Even on the worst day, it forces you to feel good about at least three things. Even if you think everything was perfect, it forces you to continually strive for improvement. Sometimes I have to really get creative to answer these three simple questions, but no matter what, I can always strive to PR my attitude, focus, preparation, recovery or nutrition. I can praise myself for making a good choice to protect my body from injury or for improving my form or range of motion. A PR doesn’t have to be a number, and in fact, it rarely should be.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t implement the full system, the 10MT and Success Log are tremendously helpful training tools.

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