The Gym and Visualization
The most successful athletes and bodybuilders in the world all have one thing in common – and that’s that they respect the link between the body and mind and recognize how much of a mental game training really is.
If you want to get yourself into the best possible shape, and if you want to really improve your strength, then you really need to learn how to utilize the mind as well as the body in your training.
One way of doing this, and something you will often hear athletes talking about is visualization – but what is meant by this?
Visualization for Achieving Your Goals
Visualization is of course utilizing your mind’s eye in order to imagine in a very real way doing something that you want to do. This often is linked to success and you will find that many athletes and coaches recommend visualizing performing your sport perfectly, or even visualizing victory and how it will feel. When you visualize success this can help your body and mind to feel as though you’ve already achieved success. Now if you’ve ever head of ‘the law of attraction’ then you should know what happens next – your whole posture and attitude changes and this leads to changes in the way people perceive you, the way you train and more and this all leads you to actually achieve that success. If you visualize your success strongly enough then your brain will ‘fill in the details’ and help you to get there. If you want to lose weight then imagine yourself as slim as you want to be and all the things you will do and keep it in mind, if you want to be big and strong then imagine yourself huge and built like a tank. Soon it will become a reality and if nothing else it will keep you focused on the end-goal.
Visualization for Strength and Technique
At the same time visualization can be used to practice technique. This means that if you are lying in bed you can go through your dance choreography or your golf swing, and practicing in your mind will be almost as good as practicing in real life as it will help you still to form the neural connections that control the movements. Now some sources will tell you that you can actually build muscle this way – that by imagining yourself lifting weights you can cause the nerves to fire and this will stimulate muscle growth. Unfortunately that’s patently untrue. In order for hypertrophy to occur, it is necessary for you to cause actual physical tears in your muscle fibers. It is the process of these being healed which leads to muscle growth as something akin to scar tissue helps make them thicker and stronger. If you don’t have a heavy weight you won’t cause the tears – simple as.
However you can utilize visualization in conjunction with training. For instance Arnold Schwarzenegger (you may have heard of him) reports using visualization by imagining his muscles growing larger and larger as he pumped the iron and even filling the room. It’s conceivable to think that this might have helped his body to direct more blood and energy to the muscles, and subsequently to deliver more nutrients. At the very least it would help you to focus more on the task in hand and to prevent your mind wandering which can help you to get a more intense workout.
And if you’re running then why not use visualization to make this less boring and to get more out of your run – by imagining you are running away from a lion or through an exploding airship.
Tagged with: guest post
Filed under: Fitness
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