In my second year of college I did a presentation on visualization. At the time this was a foreign concept to me and I found it extremely difficult to do. This was such foreign concept to me that after sitting down from my presentation, my friend told me the whole time I pronounced the word wrong.
The definition of visualization is the formation of a mental image of something. So how does this apply to exercise? Seeing is believing when it comes to getting results and breaking through plateaus. There are some practices we can do sitting back in our recliner without having to lift a finger. For example, you can practice your handstand, your golf swing, or prepare to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, studied the effects of carrying out workouts in the mind vs not visualizing at all. He found the participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (30%).
Yue's study looked at brain patterns of weightlifters and found that the same regions of the brain were activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds compared to when they just visualized it. In some cases, research reveals that mental practices are almost as effective as the physical practice itself. That is the power of the mind!
Visualization has been popular since the Soviets started using it back in sports in the 1970's. Now, many athletes use this technique including Tiger Woods (since he was 11), Tom Brady, Jack Nicklaus, and Muhammad Ali. These and many other athletes use vivid and highly detailed images and run through their entire performance over and over again.
The purpose of this article is to show how important it is to have our mind engaged in our goals. Our thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. I have seen many people who could not do certain exercises, for example, pull ups/pushups, headstands, ect. for years be able to do them after a few visualization techniques. This stuff works.
So, if the best athletes do it, how can we use it to enhance our lives? First, remember the mind and body are strongly interconnected. Next, establish a highly specific goal. Hold a mental picture of it as if it were occurring right now. Imagine it in as much detail as you can (this becomes easier with practice).
Some questions you can ask to enhance the visualization are : "Who am I with?", "What am I wearing?", "Which emotions am I feeling?", "What do I hear?", "What is in my environment?"
Eliminate any doubts that come up. Repeat this practice often. You can combine this with meditation or affirmations.
Create your future now and get visualizing!
Yours in health,