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Use your Mind as well as your Muscles!

Posted on September 16 2015

Experienced CrossFitters quickly learn that embracing their sport is as much about mindset as muscles.

Turning up to regular CrossFit sessions will help you build strength, muscular endurance and increased mobility. But if you want to become the fittest version of yourself, you will need to put some time into mental training.

Read on and learn more....

1) Mental training affects your muscles.

Scientific research backs this up! A 2004 study in the journal, Neuropsychologia (‘From Mental Power to Muscle Power - Gaining Strength By Using The Mind’) concluded that “mental training [employed in this study] enhanced the cortical output signal. This drives the muscles to a higher activation level and increases strength”. Plus research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic (published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, 1992) followed 10 volunteer athletes who were each given 5 ‘mental workouts’ per weekover a 4 week period. The ‘workouts’ consisted of imagining lifting heavy weights with their arms and.....
"their bicep strength increased by an average of 13.5%".

 2) Anxiety, worry and negativity has an hormonal affect on your body

When we feel really anxious, our body emits stress hormones. If this anxiety is chronic those stress hormones can become overly elevated. This can affect our sleep cycles, fatigue levels, food digestion and increase inflammation in the body. Learning to master your anxiety can curb this overproduction of stress hormones and help you perform better, both inside and outside the gym.

 "So fuel your mind and stay positive"

 3) Pain can be controlled by the mind

One day, when you’re in a really good mood, you feel a lot more upbeat about training hard, but on other days, when you’re upset or frustrated by something else, you feel flat and so does your training. Well that’s partly because of the relationship between stress and fatigue (as above) but it also reflects the power of your mindset. We have more control over the latter than the former, and yet the latter can greatly influence the former. Remember this: your training reflects your mindset, and it’s possible to learn ways of taking back control on a bad day, minimising the negative impact of external situations, and making the best of your training. We don’t mean that you can always smash PBs but that achieving success in training isn’t about consistently high performance; it’s about working with what you’ve got on any given day
"accepting limitations without allowing them to limit you". 

4) Performance will almost certainly improve

What’s the difference between a good athlete and a brilliant one? Mental state. Or rather, being able to utilise mental techniques to get better control over one’s physiological state. "It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe,” said Muhammad Ali (World Heavyweight Champion Boxer). It might not necessarily be your weak hamstrings or limited shoulder mobility that stops your progressing but the way you approach those issues; your thoughts about yourself. As one of the first authors of self-help literature, Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) said: “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Believing that you can do something is the first step to achieving it. Sure, you may have to set backs along the way, and need to modify your timetable perhaps, but if you handle adversity better than most and maintaining a strong belief that you can, you will get you there faster. Think of approaching a heavy bar in readiness for a new 1 rep max in your deadlift.… What’s the most important factor in getting that bar off the ground?
"Believing that you can".

5) Enjoy yourself!

This one is obvious and yet so many of us forget. If we can get our brains in gear, teach them to focus on the positives and hassle us less with all those self-defeating thought patterns that get in the way of our enjoyment, we’re going to get more out of training and, of course, our whole lives.

Keep well and Train Hard



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