Increasing Muscular Strength With Hypnosis

At my bootcamp, one of the favourite lines from our coach is about how your mind will give up before your body. In the midst of the high intensity training, the discomfort you feel physically and the levels of tiredness can cause that voice in your head to encourage you to fail even though physically you may be capable of continuing.

It's the same with long distance running. As you get tired and those muscles are depleted, the mental demons can start to get louder and try to convince you that you can't do it, or don't want to. And anyone who has raced probably knows that the kind of images and self-talk that goes through your mind in the lead up, and on the starting line, can affect how you feel and how you perform.

We all know the importance of warming up before exercising to get your body ready for movement and exertion. Yet it's just as important to get your mind in the right zone too. And whilst most athletes spend a lot of time on physical training (and sometimes kit!), the mental aspect of sport can often be overlooked. There's a reason why all those sports people at the top of their game invest in their mindset and mental skills to improve their performance.

Hypnosis and other cognitive/mental imagery strategies can help you to tackle issues such as self-doubt, ​low confidence, ​anxiety, motivation or difficulty recovering from past events, frustrations and set-backs. Even better, sports hypnosis can not only remove obstacles, it can help you to enhance your performance too.

In this article, I'm covering some of the research on hypnosis and other cognitive strategies for improving muscular strength. Strength performance (e.g. maximal strength, local muscular endurance, and power) is pretty important across most sports, perhaps particularly in lifting, body building and power sports. We all use our muscles and all need muscular strength, so how can you benefit from hypnosis for increasing muscular strength?

muscular strength hypnosis ely

 

Hypnosis For Sports Performance

There's a growing body of evidence that shows the benefits of using hypnosis to improve your sports performance. By making use of hypnosis and other cognitive strategies, you can overcome anxiety, increase confidence and self-belief, take control over that voice in your head, boost motivation, move on from past setbacks, and a wealth of other potential benefits. It can help you enjoy your training and competing more, and improve your performance.

Over the years with my running, and more recently with high intensity training, I've made use of these psychological and hypnotic sports techniques. They've helped me to train and compete in races from 5k up to ultramarathon. And having effective approaches and mechanisms to handle thoughts and feelings are certainly needed when getting out on long, long training runs as part of training.

As well as making use of sports psychology and hypnosis in my own sports and training, I've also successfully used these strategies with many other people across the whole spectrum of sports. I've worked with footballers, boxers, triathletes, runners, body builders and many others. There have also been cyclists, golfers, shooters, drivers, swimmers, horse riders and many, many more. Knowing how important my own sport is to me, and how much I give to it and get from it, I absolutely love working with others to help them improve their enjoyment and performance doing the thing they love.

In their 2016 research, Milling and Randazzo (Enhancing Sports Performance With Hypnosis: An Ode For Tiger Woods), carried out a review of sports hypnosis. They presented a comprehensive and methodological review of controlled and singe case design studies of the effectiveness of hypnosis for enhancing sports performance.

They describe some of the common psychological interventions used to enhance sports performance, such as visualization (mental rehearsal), modifying and directing your self-talk during training and competition, arousal regulation (e.g. decreasing anxiety) and goal setting around improved performance. All of these approaches and interventions can certainly be beneficial for improving sports performance and for removing obstacles that could impinge upon performing well. 

Hypnosis was shown to be effective for improving performance in a variety of sports, with the strongest support for enhancement of basketball, golf, soccer and badminton skills. They also concluded that there was preliminary evidence that hypnosis may be useful for enhancing performance in cricket and weight-lifting, as well as precision sports like archery and throwing accuracy.

Given the importance of your mindset, self-belief, confidence and expectation, these results (and there have been more since), show the benefit of incorporating hypnosis into your psychological training and approach if you want to get the most out of your sport.  

I've covered more of this in these articles:

Hypnosis For Sports Performance - Research and Evidence

Sports Psychology & Performance: Hypnosis For Peak Performance

Sports Psychology: The Impact of Hypnosis on Athletic Performance

Rediscover and Find Your Running Motivation

 

Hypnosis To Increase Muscular Strength

Hypnosis can help you to enhance your sports performance, and can help you to tackle issues such as self-doubt, ​low confidence, ​anxiety, motivation or difficulty recovering from past events, frustrations and set-backs.

Here today I'm talking about the potential for hypnosis to help you to increase your muscular strength. There is some promising, albeit currently limited, research and evidence in this area.

Filho et al (Effects of Hypnotic Induction on Muscular Strength in Men with Experience in Resistance Training, 2018) investigated the effects of hypnosis on the absolute strength of men trained in resistance training through the one repetition maximum (1RM) test (which is used to determine maximum dynamic strength).

Maximizing muscle strength is fundamental to improving performance in various sports and physical fitness and is often measured by the one-repetition maximum test (1RM). This test consists of moving the highest possible load with correct execution through a specific range of motion once.

With a sample of twelve men experienced in resistance training, performance in the 1RM test performed after hypnosis was significantly higher than the test performed without hypnotic induction. 

Another way of evaluating muscle strength is by the number of repetitions maximum (NRM) and the subjects in this study carried out this test with and without hypnosis (with the same load used for 1RM without hypnotic induction). The NRM performed after hypnotic induction was significantly higher to the NRM performed in the 1RM test itself without the hypnotic induction.

And so the findings indicate that: (a) the hypnotic induction had a positive influence on the subjects’ maximal strength improvement; and (b) the hypnotic induction was able to promote a higher NRM with the same load.

"From the results found in the present study, it is reasonable to conclude that the hypnotic induction demonstrated a positive influence on the increase of muscular strength production of men experienced in resistance training."

All in all, I think this is mightily impressive stuff. Hypnosis here helped increase muscle strength in men who were already experienced in resistance training (that is, these were well trained athletes who got even stronger from using hypnosis).

 

Increasing Muscular Strength

From the results of the study I've just mentioned we gain evidence that hypnosis could help with increasing muscle strength.

We also have research about the effect of cognitive strategies, such as imagery, self-talk and goal setting on strength performance. Tod et al (A systematic review of the effect of cognitive strategies on strength performance, 2015), reviewed the evidence for the extent to which cognitive strategies influence strength performance (maximal strength, local muscular endurance, and power).

Many strength athletes engage in one or more cognitive strategies prior to or during performance in training and competition. These strategies are designed to increase physical and mental activation, focus attention, and build confidence, and self-belief. 

Imagery included visualising or imagining performing a movement; goal-setting was where participants had been given specific attainment levels to achieve (as opposed to being asked to ‘do your best’); self-talk was where participants used a cue phrase to assist performance; and preparatory arousal involved self-directed strategies aimed at increasing activation levels of participants.

Globally, the current results indicated that cognitive strategies enhance the display of muscular strength. These results were based on research testing different types of cognitive strategies across the various dimensions of strength: maximal strength, strength/endurance, and power.

Hypnosis tends to help you to engage, orchestrate and direct your cognitions in a goal-directed fashion, as well as helping with focus. These results, without hypnosis, suggest that if you apply these cognitive strategies for increasing muscle strength with hypnosis then it may well be possible to achieve even better results.

In addition to these strategies, we also have evidence for the benefits of using mental imagery for increasing muscular strength.

Slimani et al (Effects of mental imagery on muscular strength in healthy and patient participants: A systematic review, 2016), found that the combination of mental imagery and physical practice is more efficient than, or at least comparable to, physical execution with respect to strength performance. Imagery prevention intervention was also effective in the reduction of strength loss after short term muscle immobilization and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). 

As the study authors point out, training programs could be adjusted and adapted to include mental imagery in addition to physical practice, which may reduce the likelihood of overuse injuries, physiological stress and over-training, while still proving sufficient to stimulate strength increases. 

"In summary, mental imagery training is a promising intervention to improve strength performance and to minimize strength loss in healthy participants and patients with muscle immobilization and ACL, respectively."

Hypnosis tends to help you make mental imagery more vivid inside your mind, so again, adding hypnosis here could well help you to boost your strength performance.

 

Muscular Strength Hypnosis

Although the research is limited, the studies that I've covered here suggest that hypnosis can help you to improve your muscle strength and performance. This was clearly demonstrated in the research that investigated the effects of hypnosis on muscular strength in men with experience in resistance training. 

The further research on the positive impact of cognitive strategies and mental imagery for enhancing strength lend support to this (and there is much more evidence for the use of self-talk and mental imagery to boost performance that I've not covered in this article looking at muscular strength specifically). Hypnosis helps with concentration and focus, as well as helping to make your cognitions and mental imagery more vivid and more impactful.

If you want to improve your muscular strength then hypnosis, incorportating self talk and mental imagery, may well be an effective way of getting stronger.

To your increasing strength and success,

Dan Regan

Online Skype and Zoom Hypnotherapy  

Face-to-face hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

 

Learn more about how working with Dan can help you to improve your sports performance. Book your Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session with Dan now: Appointments

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References:

Mazini Filho, M.L., Savoia, R.P., de Castro, J.B.P., Moreira, O.C., de Oliveira Venturini, G.R., Curty, V.M., Elisa, M. and Ferreira, C., 2018. Effects of Hypnotic Induction on Muscular Strength in Men with Experience in Resistance Training. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online21(1), pp.52-62.

Milling, L.S. and Randazzo, E.S., 2016. Enhancing sports performance with hypnosis: An ode for Tiger Woods. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice3(1), p.45.

Slimani, M., Tod, D., Chaabene, H., Miarka, B. and Chamari, K., 2016. Effects of mental imagery on muscular strength in healthy and patient participants: A systematic review. Journal of sports science & medicine15(3), p.434.

Tod, D., Edwards, C., McGuigan, M. and Lovell, G., 2015. A systematic review of the effect of cognitive strategies on strength performance. Sports Medicine45(11), pp.1589-1602.