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Mind and Muscle – Can Negative Thoughts Affect Your Muscle Growth?
Sure, by now we’ve all heard of the placebo effect and know how it affects the mind and muscles. I wrote a decent post about this which can be found on my blog.
The placebo effect is usually found in medical practice. It’s like a patient is given a substance, aka “A Sugar Pill”, and told that the substance is an actual drug. When the medicine is taken, the patient is aware of the healing abilities of the medicine, believes that he will be cured because of the medicine, and is cured.
Upon further investigation, we realize that it was not the sugar pill that healed the person, so the question remains, “What healed him?”
I wasn’t the sugar pill that healed him, he healed himself.
The human brain is simply amazing with its power. It made your body, and it can heal it. What really healed the individual was his strong, unwavering faith that he would be healed. Even though he thought it was the pill that cured him, he believed that he would be cured.
There is an opposite reaction to this called the Nocebo effect. This is simply the opposite of the Placebo Effect in that someone believes they will not be cured no matter what medicine they take or what steps they take to get better. Because they believe that they will not be healed, no matter what, they will not be healed.
The Placebo Effect doesn’t always work, what I mean is that you don’t always get what you want just because you believe you will. Even with the Nocebo effect, you can sometimes be cured, even if you don’t expect it.
What does this have to do with building or losing muscle? The placebo effect has everything to do with muscle growth. The reason people are healed is because of their belief that they are being healed. People can build muscle because of their belief that they want to. The problem is, you can also lose muscle, or simply not gain muscle by believing you won’t or can’t gain muscle.
This is a huge problem within the fitness industry as a whole. I’m not talking about the placebo effect, I’m talking about people’s belief in their physical abilities. People will start a program and expect immediate, mind-blowing results. Unfortunately, most people don’t achieve the incredibly amazing results they wanted as quickly as they wanted either. Once this happens, people’s belief in their ability to lose fat, or gain muscle is very quickly replaced by doubt, embarrassment, remorse and even anger.
Remember the medical example of the placebo and nocebo effect from above. The person believed they would be healed and were, or the person believed they would not be healed and were not healed. The ability to increase muscle mass can be the same way. If you believe you will gain muscle you will, but if you believe you will not gain mass you probably won’t because you are working against yourself.
When you start believing with all your might that you will gain muscle, you set the wheels of your mind in motion, which activates your brain into muscle building mode. The sad part is that if you lose your faith and doubt fills your mind, the wheels of progress will grind to a halt. It is like a blade of grass that will break the surface with positive thoughts, then the negative thoughts come in and the grass quickly dies and disappears.
The best way to keep the progress rolling is to maintain the positive momentum and leave no room for doubt. Here are three simple steps to maintain mental muscle building progress:
- Always think positive thoughts – This seems obvious and simple, but it is necessary. If you always think positively about your muscle gains, there is no room for doubt. This doesn’t have to turn into some kind of therapy session you see on TV, just make sure that all your thoughts about your workout, nutrition, supplement, or anything else have to do with your muscles achieving success. wins, always be positive.
- Visualization of Reinforcement – Not only should you always think positively about your training, you should visualize your success. Imagine yourself lifting the weight you want to lift, imagine your body looking the way you want it to look. Don’t just look at the photo, interact with it. Feel how great you will feel when you reach your goal.
- Believe in yourself – Always believe that you can achieve your goal. Never doubt that you can gain muscle or strength. If you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, you will never succeed.
Winning the mind game of muscle building is only half the battle. You must have a proper training, nutrition, and rest and recovery plan in place to fully benefit from the mental techniques above. Your brain has the power to build your body muscles, and with a certain way of thinking you can use it to your advantage.
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