The research carried out by Dr David Marchant and his team at Hull University has been presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference at the City Hall Cardiff in March 2006. In the study, 30 people performed bicep curls using a weights machine that measured how much their biceps were working. They tried to produce as much force as possible under three conditions: (1) thinking only about their muscles and how they were working, (2) thinking about the weight they were lifting and (3), thinking about whatever they wanted. There was much more muscle activity when people thought about their arm muscles and how they moved compared to when they just thought about the weight they were lifting.
This is a breakthrough in sports research because until now there has been confusion about what to think about when exercising: the weight you['re pumping or how your muscles are working. Studies up till now have shown that thinking about your muscles makes performing skills, like throwing a ball, more difficult and less successful. This research shows when it is helpful to think about your muscles, when you’re exercising to improve strength. Sports coaches and trainers would benefit from tailoring their instructions depending on what they want performers to achieve. When they want people to improve their performance, thinking about outcomes such as targets or goals is best. However, when they want athletes to exercise their muscles or recover from injury, thinking about the movement of their muscles during exercise is helpful. Stronger in your mind maybe. But to make a muscle physically stronger one has to overload the muscle by work or exercise, provide adequate nutrition primarily, protein, and rest preferably, sleep. Thinking about a muscle may increase action potential, the electrical discharge that travels along the membrane of a cell, but can only lead to increased strength if the muscle moves, becomes overloaded, and is repaired.
So how does mental imagery work to make you stronger? Well, it's not having a direct impact on muscle growth. Rather, mental imagery helps to increase strength by making your neuromuscular system, the "chain of command" that transmits signals from the brain to the muscle, more efficient, recruiting muscle fibers that would not otherwise be used. This, in turn, increases the amount of weight you can use in a given exercise. Then over time, an increase in the amount of weight that you use will eventually bigger muscles.
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big fan of mental imagery, and credits it with helping him build his famous Mr. Olympia-winning biceps.
Cleveland Clinic (formally known as the Cleveland Clinic Foundation) is a multispecialty academic medical center located in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Cleveland Clinic was established in 1921 by four physicians for the purpose of providing patient care, research, and medical
..... Click the link for more information. Foundation and his colleagues, who asked volunteers to think about contracting a finger or bending an elbow but not to perform the task. Over a 12-week regimen, reg·i·men
..... Click the link for more informatioin which volunteers did 50 mental contractions contractions Obstetrics Volleys of tightening and shortening of myometrium–uterine muscle, which occur during labor, cause dilatation and thinning of the cervix and aid in the descent of the infant in the birth canal. See Labor. Cf Decelerations.
..... Click the link for more information. 5 days per week, the muscles powering the finger and elbow strengthened by 35 and 13.5 percent, respectively. The muscles didn't actually grow in size, so Yue proposes that the mental practice strengthened the brain's signals to the muscles. He plans to test such mental flexing on people otherwise unlikely to exercise, such as stroke patients or the elderly
So the next time you're working out give some more thought and focus on the muscles you're working and see if it doesn't work for you. Good Luck...
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1. Intellectual capacity.
2. People of well-developed mental abilities: a country that doesn't value its brainpower.