Think Your Muscles To A Better Workout...

        The way you think could boost your muscle strength 

This is according to the British Psychological Society. 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. Focusing on the weight, or the task at hand , or  focus on the efficient function of the body. Basically 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 we have to overload the muscle by exercise, provide adequate nutrition primarily protein, and rest. 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 you use will eventually build bigger muscles. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big fan of mental imagery, and credits it with helping him build his massive steroid fueled Mr. Olympia-winning biceps.

Now here's some food for thought. This is not a large standardized study but here's what they found. Guang H. Yue of the Cleveland Clinic 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, in which volunteers did 50 mental contractions 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 going to be working before your workout. See yourself in that workout doing great things, and see if it doesn't work for you. Good Luck...

  Doc's Fitness Tip's Publishes Twice Weekly.

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