The Power of Visualization
Getting stronger whilst laying on the couch. Visualisation has proven to be a very powerful tool to enhance both physical and mental performance. By having a clear image of what you want to accomplish and how you will accomplish it before completing a task you can achieve significantly greater results than if you have no mental image of what you want to achieve. The power of visualisation works in all facets of life, whether giving a presentation at work or performing squats in the gym.
Many famous athletes incorporate visualizing in their daily routine to preform better. Champion golfer Jack Nicklaus said, “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. First I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white sitting up high in the bright green grass. The scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing.”
It comes as no surprise to many that visualisation of ones goals is a powerful tool, however new research shows that visualisation can even strengthen muscles.
Simply visualising familiar physical activities such as lifting weights at the gym has been shown to increase muscle strength by up to half as much as if you were actually doing the exercising. Here's how; By simply but vividly imagining yourself completing an exercise the brain is convinced the body is working out and so sends signals to the muscles resulting in strength gains similar to those you would achieve if actually working out. These signals can influence brain other functions such as motor control, attention, perception, planning and memory. It has also been found that it can enhance motivation, increase confidence, self-efficacy and prepare your brain for success.
Dr Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio uses this technique to help improve muscle strength in people undergoing rehabilitation. There are two types of mental imagery Dr Yue explores in his research. Internal and External imagery. Internal imagery is when you imagine yourself performing the exercise within your body - you mentally create the physical feeling. External imagery is when you imagine yourself doing the task but you see it from outside of your body - as if you were watching yourself in a movie. Dr Yue’s research has shown that Internal imagery is more successful in increasing muscle strength as it generates a greater physiological responses when compared to external imagery.
So go get relaxing and think about all those crunches you want to do, but can't be bothered doing!
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