Have you ever wanted the ability to move objects with the power of your mind? Researchers at the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI) have recently confirmed that this superhuman power is possible… okay, maybe not. But their report has very interesting things to say about the brain’s role in strength training.
Strength Training With Your Mind
The OMNI study found that visualizing muscle exercises actually improved strength performance. That’s right: sitting still, not flexing, and thinking about using your muscles actually counts as strength training.
In brief, the study took two groups of healthy individuals (plus a control group). The members of the first group each had one wrist immobilized for four weeks. The second group also had wrists immobilized for four weeks, but they performed mental strength training by visualizing mental imagery of strong muscle contractions for 11 minutes a day, 5 days per week.
After the casts came off, they measured wrist strength. Here are their findings:
- wrist strength reduced by 45% in the first group
- wrist strength reduced by 24% in the mental strength training group
That means the mental visualization training cut the strength loss in half. While it might not turn you into a bodybuilder, the power of the mind is real!
Mental Strength Training for Runners
This news is especially good for runners. To some runners, it’s all about setting personal bests, running faster or farther than you used to. For many runners, it can be tough to meet those marks if you skip a day or two. Try performing mental visualizations of running and pushing with the legs on days you can’t get out for a run. It’s better than nothing, and it could help reduce lost ground when you get back to it.
Mental Strength Training Exercises
Okay, so mental strength training can’t really replace physical exercise. But why not use this research to our advantage, by combining it with your exercise routine? Here are some ideas for supercharging your exercise routine with mind power:
When doing yoga poses to build strength, such as these poses to help reduce back pain, or if you do yoga to stay fit, like this 95-year old yoga master, visualizing strong muscle contractions during your workout could improve your results.
Weight Training Tips
Try visualizing strong muscle contractions the night before heading to the gym. It’ll help motivate you and could improve your endurance and strength! However, don’t strain yourself by assuming a mental workout will improve your max overnight.
In the study, participants were asked to focus intently on the visualizations, using as much brain power as possible. Before you end your meditation sessions, take five to ten minutes to perform mental strength visualizations.
Strength Training Programs
If this story inspires you to try adding strength training to your workout routine, check out these informative Hearty Soul articles: