Mental gymnastic can help increase your bicep

A FITNESS regime that sounds like a couch potato’s dream has been discovered by scientists.

“That suggests you can increase muscle strength solely by sending a larger signal to motor neurons from the brain,” says Guang Yue, an exercise physiologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio.

Yue and his colleagues have already found that mentally visualising exercise was enough to increase strength in a muscle in the little finger, which it uses to move sideways. Now his team has turned its attention to a larger, more frequently used muscle, the bicep.

Thought experiment

They asked 10 volunteers aged 20 to 35 to imagine flexing one of their biceps as hard as possible in training sessions five times a week. The researchers recorded the electrical brain activity during the sessions. To ensure the volunteers were not unintentionally tensing, they also monitored electrical impulses at the motor neurons of their arm muscles.

Every two weeks, they measured the strength of the volunteers’ muscles. The volunteers who thought about exercise showed a 13.5 per cent increase in strength after a few weeks, and maintained that gain for three months after the training stopped. Controls who missed out on the mental workout showed no improvement in strength.

The researchers are now repeating the experiment with people aged 65 to 80 to see if mental gymnastics also works for them.

The research was presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.


It’s the most overlooked technique in the gym for building muscle and gaining strength.

Used by sports psychologists and Olympic athletes routinely. It’s also of benefit and value for everyday athletes.
In fact, it’s the simplest, easiest and one of the most effective techniques out there to experience gains in the gym.
What’s this magic technique?
Visualization and mental imagery.
So, how do can you incorporate visualization into your own workout?

Here are five easy things to do:

1. When warming up, focus not just on the physiological preparation for training, but the psychological prep too. Close your eyes and visualize the muscles you will work out. This helps to put you in the “zone” and blocks all the distractions. Helps block anxieties and general mental overload that clog your brain during the day.

2. Then, while you’re working out, for any given exercise visualize the muscle being trained. Imagine it getting firmer, tighter, and stronger. Squeeze that muscle at its peak contraction. This not only provides a physiological benefit that allows more nutrients to be pumped to your muscles, but it reinforces the mind-muscle connection

3. Slow down the movement. The more time your muscle is under tension, the harder the muscle is working physiologically and the better your results. Slowing down the movement also gives you more time to mentally connect with it, also reinforcing the mind-muscle connection.

4. Close your eyes when doing your reps. This eliminates all the environmental distractions around you. Also promotes better concentration and visualization, all while also challenging your balance and coordination.

5. And, perhaps most importantly of all: PUT DOWN THAT CELL PHONE. There is nothing that will break your concentration and visualization more than constantly checking for messages.

Follow these five steps and you’ll come to realize that this deeper mental connection you have to your workouts will lead to a better quality workout and ultimately better results.

Isn’t that why you work out in the first place?

Oxford spires Hypnotherapy and Mindfulness
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