The 40% Rule | A Simple Guide To Mental Toughness & Winning

What defines winning to you?

Winning competitions can be the definition of success for many athletes in the world of competitive sports.

Within the discipline of CrossFit, performance within hero workouts are an incredible blend of physical punishment and training intensity that can leave even the most elite athletes at the mercy of the voice in between their ears.

Taking a look at the notorious MURPH event of 2015 CrossFit Games, this particular workout displayed not only the intense physical elements to the workout, but also the unforgiving raw brutality of the external environment – this was an environment that repeatedly pushed the even the strongest to breaking point – not just physically, but more so mentally. The athletes who lead this gruelling event embodied an undeniable display of what it means to be mentally tough.

Marquis Jet founder, Jesse Itzler, discovered a unique method utilised by an un-named Navy SEAL that he trained with, which can be utilised to mentally zone in, maximise potential and pushed through when faced with adversity.

“When our mind is telling us to quit, and that you’re not going going to make it – this is the point where our body has actually only used up 40% of it’s potential, the extra 60% doesn’t come from the mind or from the body; it comes from our will.

Our will shines through when we have an established “why” that we truly understand and believe in. Once we understand this, the will to succeed becomes a powerful driving force.

It has the ability to overcome the fear of failure if we allow it to.

Know that if you truly believe and trust in your “why,” that your willpower will allow you to push for that extra 60% even when your mind says no.”

How do we push for that extra 60% – even when the mind is screaming to quit?

We only can improve through adversity, by embracing the gritty short term pain. So, when your mind is screaming of “can’t” in the heat of competition, take a moment to strip yourself back to the present moment.

Disregard, just for a moment what’s happening around you, who is next to you, where you numerically ranked are in the round, strip it all back, right down to the moment you are in, then ask yourself:

“Am I at 40%?”

If you can honestly answer yes, bring your “why” to the forefront of your mind and remember – your value as an athlete does not decrease if your rounds are not brimmed with shining victories.

This is just you vs. you.

We are humans may not be limitless, however our limits need to be tested, pushed and broken in order to grow, this is the same mentally as it is physically.

Understanding what’s going on in your head, stripping it back and asking yourself, “Am I at 40%?” can be the winning difference in whether your feet touch the podium or just make it through the next heat by the skin of your teeth.


“Navy SEALs Have a ‘40 Percent Rule and It’s the Key to Overcoming Mental Barriers.” Big Think. N.p., 26 Nov. 2015. Web. 06 March 2016. <>.

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