Tip: Use Box Breathing to Regain Focus

Here's a trick used by strongman competitors to increase performance that you need to use too.

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Here's something you learn from Strongman competitions that can also be applied to the rest of your life:

Don't dwell on past events.

If you messed up your last event, you have to let it go. We've all had times when things didn't go our way. When you botch something you had expected to excel at, it's easy to get angry or start to feel sorry for yourself. The problem with doing this during a Strongman competition is that you have other events to prepare for. If you hold on to this singular screw-up and continually return to it there's no way your head will be ready to do your best moving forward.

The longer you carry the weight of that past event, the more exhausted, stressed, and checked-out you'll become. None of these are conducive to performing your best for the remainder of the day.

No, you shouldn't treat your mishap like it was nothing. Go ahead and get angry, yell if you have to, stomp off and berate yourself under your breath. But then let it go. You'll have plenty of time to dwell on this after your day is over, but now is not the time. Do what you have to do, then return to being a professional. You'll never make progress if you don't change this pattern immediately.

Do This Instead: Box Breathing

Next time you really drop the ball, take a few minutes to burn off that excess anger, but do so in private. Then take five slow breaths in this fashion:

  1. Take air slowly into your belly through your nose to the count of "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three."
  2. Hold the air for three more counts.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth to the count of three.
  4. Then remain without air for three more counts before taking your next breath.
  5. Repeat four more times.

Sounds like hippie bullshit, but "box breathing" is used by top echelon performers in all realms of life, from NFL players and Navy SEALs to CEOs and even tired moms with crying newborns. Box breathing will lower your heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and bring your focus back to the two things you can control: your breathing and your attitude.

You screwed up. Own it. But don't let yourself get carried away to a point that it owns you. The sooner you can calm your emotions down and begin changing that negative energy to positive focus for your next challenge, the better you'll perform.

Brian Alsruhe is the owner and Head Coach of NEVERsate Athletics, a strongman, powerlifting and sports-conditioning facility located in Northern Maryland. Brian is the reigning titleholder of Maryland’s Strongest Man (231 weight class, 2014 - current) and finished 18th at the 2015 NAS National Championships. Follow Brian Alsruhe on Twitter