“Build Your Will”

There were two specific ways I remember that, in legendary strength and conditioning coach Shannon Turley’s words, we would “build our will” while training in my college baseball program. These were techniques that built toughness of the mental kind.

One simple and brutal way was that we’d be assigned something like twelve grueling shuttle runs. The required split times made accomplishing the assigned work horribly difficult and put most of us on the edge of throwing up. The “build your will” segment came after the twelfth effort when you’d finish your effort (barely) with what felt like an empty gas tank and coach would call out the following piercing words:

“On the line! We’re going to build your will…”

This, of course, meant that the twelve shuttle run assignment was a lie. In reality, we’d have an undisclosed amount of work left to complete. If the gas tank really was empty (which it never really was like our mind wanted to suggest), we’d need to muster something to finish. The most mentally challenging part wasn’t that there was another run to make. It was that we didn’t know exactly how many more improbably hard runs were left.

The second way we’d “build our will” was even simpler and maybe more challenging than the first. There was one acceptable resting position during conditioning: standing with hands on hips. Placing your hands on your knees, bending over, taking a knee, or any other posture was unacceptable. The logic was that despite the searing lactate acid build up in your bloodstream and the feeling that there wasn’t enough oxygen on the planet to recover that you’d stand tall, in the seemingly least comfortable position humanly possible, as if you were ready and wanting more work to do. This one small rule was an absolute mental gauntlet.

Just recently I took Coach Kimmy’s DEUCE Breath & Exposure clinic. During the oxygen modifying hypoxia training, we were prescribed a recovery breath protocol referred to as “Five-Seven-Nine” where regardless of how you feel or want to breath you take five breaths in and out of the mouth (easiest during stress), seven breaths in the nose and out the mouth, and nine breaths in and out of the nose (hardest during stress) before moving to the next task. While it wasn’t bad like the torture I remember in college, it was a similar mental toughness builder.

If you’re willing to look inside the game there are games to play within the game. This is where the mind can be trained. Want a place to start? Make a deal with yourself about the maximum amount of breaths you’ll take during any rest period. Want to take it a step further? Hit up Coach Kimmy at kimmy@deucegym.com for breathing tools for your mind!


Logan Gelbrich


5/20/19 WOD

Complete 4 rounds for quality:

:30 Planche

20 Push Ups

200′ Reverse Sled Drag (AHAP)


Then, complete 4 rounds for time:

400m Run

10 Hang Power Clean + Jerks (135/95)

-Rest 2 minutes-