“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
– Marcus Aurelius
You guys have heard the old saying…. The mind is a powerful thing. How many of us actually put much thought in to it though.
Reality is, we absolutely should.
It is truly amazing how many studies have come out proving this concept. One Harvard study was conducted on a group of hotel maids. Despite exceeding the daily recommended amount of exercise, 67% of the maids did not consider themselves physically active. Langer, the psychologist, predicted that the maid’s viewpoints about their physical activity were making it difficult for them to lose weight.
To test her hypothesis, Langer gathered half of the maids, took their physical measurements and explained that they were exceeding the amount of exercise recommended by the surgeon general. The other half were given no information.
After a month, Langer’s team returned to the hotel for reevaluation. The maids that were evaluated and given information had a decrease in systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio. The other group’s results were insignificant.
Langer attributes these physical (and likely psychological) benefits to a simple change in mindset.
(In other words, it may be possible to THINK yourself thin!)
In another study that I recently read about they posed the hypothesis that you could maintain strength in a broken appendage simply by imagining that you were working it out. Researchers at the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute convinced 29 healthy volunteers to wear rigid elbow-to-finger casts for four weeks. Half of the group was told to do nothing, while the others were instructed to imagine they were contracting their immobilized wrist (as if they were pushing their hand really hard against a flat surface) for five seconds and then relaxing it for another five. These people weren’t actually moving their wrists (they couldn’t); they were simply imagining how it would feel if they were. They did this mental contract-relax regimen four times in a row, then rested for one minute. The volunteers repeated this sequence a total of 13 times per session, doing five sessions per week for four weeks straight.
When all of the participants’ arms were freed from their casts after four weeks, everyone had lost strength in their wrist flexor muscle. However, the cast-wearers who did not do any mental exercises lost 45 percent of their strength, nearly double the group that imagined moving their wrists. Additionally, those who performed the mental exercises also regained voluntary activation — the nervous system’s ability to fully activate the muscle — more quickly than the other group.
They’ve also done studies showing that continuing to work out one side of the body when dealing with an injury will produce similar results of those listed above. In other words, if you cannot use your right arm because of an injury, continuing to exercise with the left will actually help you maintain strength in both.
I could go on-and-on about study after study that have shown similar results. The point is, our mind is a powerful force that we SHOULD be using to our benefit. I can tell you with 100% certainty that days that I show up to the gym with a positive mindset and “know in my brain” that I’m going to have a great workout, I ALWAYS do. I also know the exact opposite, if I show up with a crappy attitude about my pull-ups or double unders, or whatever, pick a move, I will suck at them.
Now, I’m not saying that I can imagine myself to a muscle-up on the rings, or a 600lb deadlift. What I AM saying though, your thoughts can and will dictate how well you perform daily.
I don’t remember exactly where I read it but, I read this thing that said imagine you will be successful even if you don’t believe it, your brain doesn’t know the difference. I have tried it, and I believe it to be true.
Why not try it? What exactly do you have to lose?