Visualize your progress.
It’s something that I tell my clients each and every day during our workouts. And (in all honesty), it’s something that, more often than not, is met with an earth-shattering eye roll.
I get it. It sounds cheesey.
But the fact of the matter is- it works.
The Power of Visualization: A Real Life Example
So often, I see men and women go the gym and just go through the motions. They have their printed list of exercises to complete, which they check off as they go; yet they never truly gain full benefit from those movements because they forget to engage the one part of the body most responsible for the movement in the first place- the brain…
I’m telling ya- if you want to see results from your strength training program, you have to flex your brain, not just your muscles.
Science dubs this phenomena ‘the mind-muscle connection.’ At it’s most basic level, it’s a theory that emphasizes the importance of activating the desired, targeted muscles through thinking- not just by moving a weight.
You see, it’s your brain and nervous system that work together to create the necessary connections to muscle fibers when they are called upon to produce force. The ability to focus your mind’s attention on a single muscle (or group of muscles) means that your nervous system will call upon a higher percentage of the ‘right’ fibers in relation to that muscle. With frequency, those intended connections are sharpened, which we see in the form of quicker results, bigger strength gains, etc.
Pretty cool stuff, right?
Using Visualization Beyond the Gym: Why it Applies to Daily Life Too
The power of visualization extends far beyond the gym setting though. And it’s something that I encourage my clients and also you, my awesome readers, to employ in your regular, daily lives.
Particularly this time of year- just after New Year’s- once the regret of too many indulgent holiday treats is realized- that I hear from a lot of individuals in a panic to reduce their expanding waistlines. People who want to get back in shape and who fear entering swim suit season the same size as they are now.
We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. It’s not fun (but it happens). There’s no shame to that.
My first instinct as a personal trainer, however, isn’t to immediately flip into “fix-it mode”. No- my initial reaction is to shift the direction of the conversation. You see, people have no issue voicing what they hate about their bodies, but they can’t describe in the same detail just what sort of physique would make them happy.
Think about it- you may cringe at the extra ‘fluff’ covering your midsection but does that mean you desire rock-hard abs? a softer, yet flat stomach? Or maybe that elusive hour-glass shape is more your style?
It’s so true: “we often articulate what we don’t want from life, but we don’t always know what it is that we do want”.
And I’m not just talking about physical appearances either…
For example, I can tell you with confidence that I’m not 100 percent, totally in love with my current job. It involves long shifts with irregular hours, relatively low compensation, and quite frankly, a lot of working conditions that I’d rather not put up with.
Yet if you were to ask me what my dream job would entail, I’d have difficulty in pinpointing what exactly it is that would make me happy.
The point that I’m trying to make here is that if we can’t visualize what it is that we want, then how can we expect to achieve it?
Seriously, how can you expect to live your dream life if you don’t know what it looks like?
You have to dream it long before you realize it!
Why Visualization Works: How-To Make it Work for You
Simply put, visualization the practice of imagining yourself in the situation you wish to be.
On some level, it sounds too good to be true.
I’m sure if we think hard enough we can all imagine landing our dream job, buying our dream car, moving into our dream house, and meeting our dream husband/wife.
And yes, simply visualizing these dreams don’t make them reality. Action is required beyond that visualization.
However, the power of visualization comes from changing your perception of the world.
By imagining yourself in your desired state, you force your subconscious mind to show you opportunities, provide you with information, giving you the needed call to action to achieve exactly what you have visualized.
All you have to do, is to follow these impulses.
Just like above, in our discussion of the mind-muscle connection and its ability to help us recruit more of the ‘right’ muscle fibers- strong visualization of our dream life puts us in connection with more of the ‘right’ opportunities to turn those dreams into reality.
And so I dare you, friends: “decide what you want in every area of your life, for you can’t hit a target that you can’t see”.
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