Psychological factors play a part in performance.
Plenty of scientific research shows that mind over matter, at least in the realm of exercise psychology, is an important factor when it comes to increasing your performance. For example:
- Test subjects increase the power they generate simply by shouting loudly while exerting themselves.1
- Athletes who are susceptible to hypnosis perform significantly better after being given hypnotic suggestions of increased strength.2
- Olympic weight lifters who “psych-up” prior to a lift perform much better.3
- Arm wrestlers who mistakenly assume they are stronger than their opponents often win despite their limitations.4
- Exercise subjects who are distracted from the pain of intense exercise often out-perform their previous efforts.5
How does this relate to weight training?
Bulking programs usually rely on maximum effort, overload workouts. The effort required is not for the faint of heart. If you psych yourself up before a heavy set, you’ll perform better. Unless you are able to push yourself past your prior level of performance every time you work out, your progress will stall.
It’s useful to employ visualization before a heavy lift. Imagine yourself performing a heavy squat rep before you actually do it. Not only will it help you avoid form mistakes, but it may prevent adrenaline spikes which cause your blood sugar levels to tank. Picture yourself as strong and competent, rather than weak and out of your league.
- Ikai and Steinhaus, 1961
- Barber, 1966; Morgan, 1972
- Weinberg, Gould, Yukelson, & Jackson, 1981
- Nelson & Furst, 1972
- Gill & Strom, 1985; Morgan, Horstman, Cymerman, & Stokes, 1983
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