Mental toughness training tips


I’d like to train my mental toughness.
For no specific reason, I just like to push my limits and I think cycling is a good sport for this.
Also HIIT workouts that also required mental toughness are my favorites.

For now the only workout I’ve done that pushed my mental limits was X times 4min/2min all out on a climb ( depending on my legs I can do from 4 to 8 reps )
I’ve done it multiple times, in fact it’s the workout I’ve done the most.

Any recommendation on types of workouts that train mental toughness better than others ?

I’m thinking about over / unders. I never tried those and am very curious about it.
I’ve tried X times 30s/30s but I found it less brutal because 30s is very short.

Otherwise I don’t know any other types of workout that really challenge the mental aspect of performance.

So any suggestions are welcomed :+1:

Fast group rides and races. There are always parts where you don’t get to pick the effort level, you often don’t know how long an effort is going to last so you’re essentially playing chicken with those around you as to who will quit first and because of the draft, you get punished in real time if you quit.


4 hours, Z2 indoors, no fans, no entertainment, no windows.


If your FTP is correct but haven’t been doing steady threshold work, this can really suck.

1 Like

Doing certain workouts to train mental toughness isn’t a great way to go about it. You should think about training mental toughness with workouts that suit your goals. So it depends on where you are in training, what your goals are, and your physiology.

30/30s are an introductory max aerobic power workout. They’re relatively easy.

Over-Under are great… it just depends on what you’re looking for… you can do TR version 105/95 over-unders and those can be really hard and train mental toughness. They can also leave you feeling totally trashed.

You can do 30/15s or 40/20s at your 5 minute power and start with 8 minute work bouts and those will damn sure train mental toughness, while also training your MAP and ability to put out high power aerobically.

But those two styles of workouts are very different in terms of what you’re training physiologically.

As was mentioned above, a 4-hour ride on a hot day can train your mental toughness.

A 3 hour ride starting at 65% and progressing to spending the last hour at 85% might train your mental toughness… depends on your fitness level.

Riding your threshold as long as you can sustain it and seeing how long you can go (also known as a TTE test) definitely does it.

Basically anything that challenges you to push a new stimulus will challenge your mental toughness. You just have to find workouts that are challenging enough. Not surprised that 30/30s aren’t it!


As you progress through the levels, you will encounter those workouts. Any interval longer than say 5 minutes, that you perform multiple times close to your limit, will at some point require you to not only have the muscle power but also overcome your brain telling you to quit


Semi-serious answer: start a High Volume workout plan. Guaranteed to require a LOT of mental toughness by Week 2.

More serious answer: Do any of the workout plans, you’ll find stuff that requires mental toughness.

1 Like

Serious question… can you train “mental toughness”?

I mean we can train, suffer, go to that unhappy place… but no matter how fit you are there comes a point in a race where you either dig deep into more pain or back off. That “toughness” is ingrained in our character and I think that point for everyone is a little different.

I guess as we train we learn to deal with the discomfort of training. But is that mental toughness? I don’t know…

1 Like

I interpret mental toughness in relation to cycling as the ability to continue while your brain is telling you to stop.


I would also use this as mental toughness on the bike. When I’m really suffering in the last or second to last though interval I remind myself, most gains are from the last intervals.

Anyway, what’s hard for some is easy for others. Give me a vo2max workout and I’ll happily suffer through. A 3x 20/30min ftp interval workout, ugh.

1 Like

I feel like the type of workout doesn’t really matter, but rather the duration, amount of repetitions and conditions. For example: doing these hill reps in the rain vs on a sunny day, will have a drastic different effect on your willingnes to push through and therefor also on your mental toughness.

1 Like

Or your legs. Or your lungs.

All of the above.

1 Like

Well, sure those are also telling you to stop, but I consider that more physical limitations and wouldn’t describe it as mental toughness.


Training your mind to ignore or manage them is mental toughness, though. Any sensations you feel are mediated by your mind. Exactly the same level of actual fatigue will feel quite different 30 seconds after the start of a VO2 interval than 30 seconds before the end of that interval, and that difference is likely almost entirely mental.

1 Like

If you read “Endure” by Alex Hutchinson you would probably come away believing mental toughness is something that can be trained (just not in that exact term).

“the trick is not minding that it hurts”

My kids’ high school swim coach would make the team watch this movie clip every year.


Randomly replace one of your tough workouts with Disaster and don’t let your head let you quit with 101 different excuses.


Thanks for all the replies :+1:

I see what you mean.

I have no evidence supporting that segment but I think that we can train to push how early this limit comes.

So it would be a 2 part thing. One part of it is how early it becomes mentaly tough, and the other part is the ability to stay longer on the mentaly tough part.

Maybe as you get used to discomfort, the earlier leves of discomfort don’t feel as bad and you can push further too.

All speculation though.

1 Like