Mental Vs. Physical Contractions

Mental Vs. Physical Contractions Believe it or not, imagining muscle contractions can actually enhance muscle strength. But does the effort contribute to muscle fatigue? A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise might be one of the first to put this unconventional technique to the test.

Researchers had 10 volunteers imagine 80 maximum contractions of the elbow flexor in reps that lasted 5 seconds with 10 seconds of between rep rest. For the next workout, they did real maximum voluntary contractions of the same muscle. In a third session, real contractions were combined with imagined ones in a rep ratio of 5 seconds to 5 seconds with 2 seconds of rest in between.

True Strength Moment: Following these routines, real contractions caused a 40% decrease in torque and a combination of real/imagined contractions produced the same post-workout decrease. But thinking about maximal contractions didn't reduce force production at all. So getting your head into a demanding workout might help lead you to new personals bests.
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