Question: How important is mental training to my success?
- Mental training (Self-talk, visualization, etc) can improve your performance & help you get stronger.
- Mental training can also improve your overall health and has been shown to decrease stress, blood pressure, and resting heart rate.
- Visualizing your self performing a movement (i.e. a perfect back squat) can help you form better kinesthetic awareness which will improve your overall skill in that specific lift/movement
In this study researchers sought to answer three different questions:
- Will physical training plus mental training lead to larger strength gains than physical training alone.
- Will physical training plus mental training lead to larger increases in testosterone and a larger increase in testosterone:cortisol ratio than physical training alone.
- Will physical training plus mental training lead to larger decreases in cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure than physical training alone.
Well, turns out that when you combine physical training with mental training all of those things do in fact happen!
In the study, researchers had the participants practice identifying negative self-talk (Something we all need to be better at doing in just about all life situations) and write down then restate that though in a positive way.
So instead of saying something like: ”Man, that’s heavy, I don’t know if I can lift it”
They said: I can lift that and probably add more weight and lift that too!
So it turns out screaming “LIGHTWEIGHT!” before you attempt to pull 400# off the floor may indeed lead you to be more likely to get that weight up!
Additionally, participants in the mental training group were instructed to visualize themselves (in the 1st person) perform each movement while visualizing them giving the lift their maximal effort.
Researchers compared the mental training (MT) + physical training (PT) group to the physical training & control groups and found that not only did the MT+PT group improve performance (got stronger) but they also showed improvements in testosterone, cortisol, stress, and resting heart rate.
So what can you take away from this?
Well if you can get stronger with adding some mental training into your routine that is basically free #gainz because it doesn’t tax your body in any way and may actually lower your overall fatigue.
Additionally, if you’re new-ish to training or unfamiliar with a particular movement it’s always a great idea to visualize yourself performing the movement prior to actually doing it… If you can’t close your eyes and picture yourself performing the movement you’re probably not going to be that successful once you get under the bar!
Want to ramp up your mental toughness training even further?
Check this article out: 6 Exercises for Improving Your Mental Toughness