No Cross, No Crown: Part I The Physical

No Cross, No Crown: Toughness

Defining Toughness

“Some people with great muscular strength may lack toughness and easily crumble when circumstances become too challenging. On the other hand, some people with no particularly great muscular strength may be very tough, i.e., capable of overcoming stressful, difficult situations or environments.”

― Erwan Le Corre

Toughness, in the end, is the ability to perform well regardless of circumstances. This might mean performing well when you are sick or injured. “Toughness…is the strength, or ability, to withstand adverse conditions,” according to Le Corre.

Being able to do that requires both mental and physical, and most of all spiritual toughness. No amount of mental toughness alone will keep you from freezing in cold temperatures, but if you’ve combined mental training with cold tolerance conditioning, for example, then you’ll fare much better. In addition, no amount of mental or physical toughness will stop the harshest of conditions from killing your spirit. In the end, Spiritual strength and toughness is paramount and is the start and end of it all.

Also, you must remember and believe that toughness is a skill. It is a myth that you’re either born tough or you’re not. The truth is, toughness, mental, physical, and spiritual, can and should be trained and cultivated, just like any other skill.

PART I: Physical Toughness

  • Physical toughness includes the ability to take abuse and keep functioning, to recover quickly, to adapt to difficult terrain and contexts, and to tolerate adverse conditions without flagging.
  • Physical toughness boils down to the changes your body makes to make it more resilient. This has the effect of unloading your willpower so that you can push yourself harder mentally, since your threshold has effectively increased.

So to really begin:

  • Thicker Skin
    • A very simple example of physical toughness is thick skin. Expose yourself to rough environments and forgo the usual protection, increasing the intensity of exposure slowly over time.
      • Train with tough objects, like stones, logs. Train bare foot. Train with minimal clothing, with rough implements.
        • Start with shorter durations and forgiving surfaces so you don’t get to the point of actual injury, and increase the time and ruggedness of the environment. You will learn to tell the difference between discomfort and real pain.
  • Supple Joints
    • Learn and implement mobility and self-maintenance exercises into your regular training routine.
      • Mobility, flexibility, and durability.  Flexible joints can move farther without incurring stress on their support structures, reducing fatigue and the wear and tear.
        • Stretching does not only save you pain, it will allow you to absorb more punishment and do more reps without feeling the effects.
  • Hormonal and Adrenal Changes
    • Train with less rest between sets or workouts, but take excellent care of yourself in the meantime.
      • Better energy management. Slow your fatigue, and recover quicker, so that you can come back hard with surprisingly little time to recuperate.
        • The simplest way to train this kind of toughness is by limiting your rest between workouts or exercises, sometimes even at the expense of your performance.
        • Eat well and sufficiently, and get enough sleep.
        • Another interesting technique is nasal breathing. This involves restricting yourself to only breathing through my nostrils, even during hard workouts. The result is more efficient oxygen usage.
  • Environmental Tolerance
    • Train outside in all weather with as little protection as you can tolerate.
      • Cold tolerance. The body will literally increase its ability to generate heat if you habitually go without excessive clothing and expose yourself to acute cold shocks. Even in the winter, it is possible to train with only a t-shirt and shorts.
        • In addition to training with less clothing, you can also only take cold showers, this will improve your ability to tolerate a wider range of temperatures without feeling real discomfort.


Try to work all of this into your regular work out routine. Just doing the toughness work outs won’t increase your strength but it will increase your endurance. What I personally have been doing is going on runs. Running up and down hills and stairs (nasal breathing). I do my pull ups and chin ups on a tree branch, and every morning and evening I do 100 or so push ups and crunches. This all rests on top of my dumbbell works, which I finish with a a lovely ice cold shower. Another tip for building  physical strength and toughness is to switch up the exercises. Do more than one type of push up and switch from longer runs and some jump rope, to lots of jump rope and shorter runs.

Anyways these has been Part I of “No Cross, No Crown” my next post will be out Mental strength and toughness.
God Bless.



One comment

  1. […] and with a deeper metaphysical perspective on life, the Universe, and everything (READ: PART I & II). Such Qualities are greatly to be desired in a friend, lover, partner, father, husband, […]

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