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Mental Toughness - THE One Stop Landing Page For Answers.

Stew smith

What is Mental Toughness and
How Do You Obtain It? 

This is an accumulation of years of articles and videos about the topic of mental toughness.  None of the below will make you mentally tougher - that is not how mental toughness works. 

Big Question:
Mental Toughness: Are you born with it?
Or can it be developed?

Picture from @mcteams3842 - Instagram

Answer:  Both.  As human beings we all have an element of basic survival instincts that will allow us to do amazing things that will keep us alive. But to fine tune these skills when not in a life or death or survival situation, this skill of mental toughness has to be developed. How is that done?  One scoop at a time.


There is NO one event, motivational poster, movie, meme, or saying that makes you instantly mentally tough. This process is truly a consequence of disciplined habits of doing things that are hard, uncomfortable, and consistent.  For instance, running a marathon or 100 mile race when unprepared for it is not going to build mental toughness - it will more than likely build aches, pains, and injuries that will most likely prevent you from training for months to follow.

You get TOUGH from the daily and consistent grind of preparing for that event - training when you don't feel like it, getting up early in the morning to run in the cold rain, or enduring the heat of the day. You build mental toughness one spoonful at a time, one day at a time, not all in one shot.  After all, there is a fine line between mental toughness and stupidity. 

Outdoor Workouts in Uncomfortable Climates is Also A WAY...

The Stages of Building Mental Toughness

Inspiration Phase: We develop a mental toughness skill through initial inspiration and motivation - something must resonate with you in order to make good habits that allow for you to expend excess energy chasing this dream. During this phase, we can use this motivation to start working, doing research, and building habits.

Habit to Discipline Phase: Once the initial motivation is gone, there will be days when you are not particularly energetic or motivated to work toward a goal, this is when your motivation has to evolve into discipline through consistent work. Without this discipline and will to work even when you are tired, mental toughness is not developed. 

Mental Toughness Phase: Self-discipline, confidence, and the ability to create new habits will get you through any challenging goal at this point and you will find it will transfer into all aspects of your life. 

Mental Toughness defined: 
Finding the fuel when the tank is empty. 

Here is a list of related articles and videos on the topic:

Are You Mentally Ready? 

Not Knowing the Difference Between Mental Toughness and Stupidity is Dangerous to your Health / Future Plans - There are Two Types of Mental Toughness: One We Are Born With and One We Have to Grow. 

Don't Listen to Yourself - TALK to Yourself - This is important.  Learn how to do this BUT you have to be positive. 

Five Steps to Building Mental ToughnessAfter recent conversations with a few different Special Ops friends (Army SF, SEAL, Delta, UK Army Commando), we all agreed that to really be one of the few who graduate Special Ops training, you eventually have to do one thing without care...

Twelve Questions about Mental Toughness (article / video) - This is a thorough reivew of the mental toughness topic asked from a teenager.

Mental Toughness - Is it an Art or Science?

How to Build Mental Toughness

Increase Mental Toughness During Physical Events

Mentally Tough - POwer of the Mind is Spec Ops Training

Ten Ways to Build Mental Toughness and Stay Motivated

Teamwork and Mental Toughness - More Important than Fitness

Can You Make a Special Operator?

Tactical Fitness Reports On Mental Toughness

Tactical Fitness Report 174 - The Mind Body Connection with Brain Savvy Training with

Tactical Fitness Report 168 - Stress Mitigation with BASE-R ® Method
- Related article

Tactical Fitness Report 147 - Motivation - Habits - Discipline (also read this)

Tactical Fitness Report 123 - Mental Toughness:  Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Tactical Fitness Report 13 - Defeat the Quit Demon

Tactical Fitness Report 8 - Mental Toughness Discussion

 SPECIAL - Never Give Up with Stew Smith

General Tactical Fitness Training Information 

Learn How to do Seasonal Periodization to Build Tactical Athlete Skills

Twelve Questions / Answers About Mental Toughness

Quitting or Not Quitting - The Choice is YOURS  

Which Program is Right For Me - Special Ops Candidates


Who Is The Tactical Fitness Coach / Author Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and special ops candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

Check out the Complete List of Training Programs (Spec Ops, Military, Police, Fire)

We Have Answers For Beginners to Advanced Spec Ops Level Training Programs (see below)

Fitness for Beginners - Get Started for Free!

Most people who enter the recruiters' offices are seeking regular military jobs and on the beginner spectrum of fitness. Please consider the following before joining the military:

- Run - Learn how to run and get in shape to run 2-3 miles without stopping.  See beginner / intermediate running plan.  But, you may need to start off with just walking depending on your fitness level. If you played sports that had a little bit of running in it (football) or no running in it like swimming, you need to practice running regularly to get over the growing pains accompanied with impact cardio like running and rucking. To do well on timed runs, you need to practice that distance at a goal pace. Learn about GOAL PACE Running. 

- Calisthenics - You will be doing calisthenics not only throughout the day in basic training, but as a fitness test as well.  Get used to exercises like pushups, crunches, plank poses, pullups, squats, and lunges to work the entire body.  If you need some ideas, see the programs below that address all the physical fitness challenges you will see in preparation, testing, and basic training and beyond. The Boot camp, PFT, Bible, and Cals and Cardio are all encompassing workouts that will prepare you for the challenges of Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard basic training and fitness tests as well. The Army and Marine Corps will require more challenging workouts and fitness testing.  See links of the books below to see more details of the Combat Fitness Test you must be able to accomplish when you join. 



DO NOT RELY ON THE MILITARY TO GET YOU INTO SHAPE AT BASIC TRAINING.  You will get into better shape for sure during your training if you arrive in lower fitness form, but you need to arrive with a foundation of physical fitness that is specific to your future job in the military / fitness tests / training. If you show up out of shape, you could end up failing standards or injuring yourself causing longer delays or removal from training altogether. 

For You Special Candidates (Get in Shape LONG Before You Join) 

High Intermediate Military / Advanced Spec Ops
Building Programming:

Which Program is Right For Me?
It Depends...Special Ops Candidates

The Pipeline of Training Options: 

(Special Ops– Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program.  So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training. 

Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).


Lifting Cycle Programs For Those Who Need a Strength Focus

You may have seen my Winter Lift Cycle that I discuss in the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization article as well as have our actual lift programs we have done over the years in the following books.


It is not all just calisthenics and cardio at Stew Smith Fitness

Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle, Warrior Workout #2Maximum Fitness

These programs as well as my online coaching programs have Winter Lift Cycles in them as part of our Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System. But, do not get these lift cycles confused with ACTUAL strength / power lifting programs, these are strength / power programs that also have a focus on cardio fitness maintenance BECAUSE you need to be good at all the elements of fitness and develop into an all-round Tactical Athlete.  

Most Recent Spring / Summer & Fall Winter Programs:
(click to read more)
Or Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training - Delivered Weekly?


Get Weekly Unpublished Workouts Tested and Evaluated by local Stew Smith Training programs. 

Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.

Join the Online PT CLUB:
One On One Coaching with Stew Smith

If You Need a More Personalized Approach to Fit Your Needs, Goals, Time per Day, Days per week, Facilities, Abilities, etc...Try Online Coaching

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching   


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