There is evidence to show simply by imagining yourself doing a particular exercise you can make your muscles stronger – great news for coach potatoes out there, bad news for the gyms. Well, maybe it isn’t quite as simple as that (I wouldn’t pack the lycra away just yet then, more’s the pity) but techniques such as visualisation and motor imagery can most certainly help you get stronger by thinking about the way you are exercising.
It’s all about understanding the power of our thinking. Motor imagery is the process whereby an individual rehearses in their mind a given action and it’s widely used in sport as part of a holistic approach to an athlete’s training. For example, we’re slap bang in the middle of the Olympics so there are no doubt thousands of athletes who’ve used this method as part of their preparation. As well as visualising their event and the way they want it to turn out, specific and focused imagining of the power of their bodies, can also lead to strength gain in their muscles.
Being able to actually strengthen your muscles merely by a focused thought process is possible because simulation of perception i.e. imagining perceiving something is essentially the same as actually perceiving it, only the perceptual activity is generated by the brain itself rather than by external stimuli. On the Winning Edge Programme we advocate the use of visualisation as part of goal achievement – it’s about using all five senses to assumptively imagine the situation you want to take place – the goal you want to realise. The subconscious cannot tell the difference between a real or vividly imagined event so if you believe in something so strongly, you can make it happen in your mind’s eye until reality catches up.
Visualisation goes hand in hand with motor imagery and Professor Tony Kay from the University of Northampton has demonstrated the results of imagining yourself performing an action to strengthen muscles. A group of relatively sedentary members of the public took part in an experiment whereby the strength of their calf muscles were tested after motor imagery exercises were carried out five times a week for four weeks. The actual ‘training sessions’ involved the volunteers vividly imagining contracting their calf muscles 50 times as they listened to Professor Kay’s audio guides.
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“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Buddha
By Kirsty Perrin
About the Author: Having been immersed in the Winning Edge principles from an early age, Kirsty’s philosophy is to be the best you can be and to enjoy what you do in life.
Kirsty knows that personal development is a continuous journey and therefore has a genuine desire and enthusiasm to help people realise their full potential, to be a success in their life-whatever that may mean to them.
Kirsty’s thought-provoking blogs, prompt readers to think consciously about how their thinking has a huge impact on their life, it informs their emotions and therefore their behaviour. Living life consciously is the cornerstone to the themes of Kirsty’s blogs. You can contact Kirsty directly here