Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision – Muhammad Ali
Visualisation has long been considered a powerful tool in personal development. In fact, it is considered to be more powerful than affirmations.
Although the use of visualisation or mental imagery has been used by human beings for thousands of years – especially in the realm of spirituality, it began gaining popularity as a personal development technique only recently – since the late seventies and early eighties.
Did you know that visualisation techniques can help you reach your fitness goals much faster? Before I tell you how visualisation can help to get fit, let us look at what visualisation actually is.
Visualisation is the use of the mental imagery (highly detailed mental pictures) to imagine our goals and the process of making them happen. When combined with proper focus and emotion, it becomes a powerful tool that can help you achieve your dreams and goals.
The best thing about visualisation is, it has the power to transform almost any area of your life. It can help you with personal development, in achieving better health, with your sports performance and in accomplishing most of your goals in life.
Coming back to sports and fitness, almost every top sportsperson or athlete uses visualisation techniques to help them achieve their goals.
No matter what your fitness goals are – losing weight, toning up or maybe bulking up, creative visualisation can help you get there quicker.
Here’s how visualisation techniques can help you achieve your fitness goals:
Visualisation techniques help you focus better on your goals: The more focused you are, the faster you can hit your fitness targets
It inspires and motivates you: One of the biggest hurdle that people face when they try to achieve a particular level of fitness is a drop in motivation after a few days. This comes from not seeing results quickly. Visualisation, by replaying the end goal in your mind – again and again – helps keep you motivated and inspires you to work harder in order to achieve your goals.
It helps you improve a skill or technique: It has been proven that when you vividly imagine an activity, your nervous system acts in the same manner it does when you are actually performing that activity. This helps build you muscle memory faster and improve your techniques faster.
It helps build positive exercise habits: Creative visualisation plays a big role in breaking you unproductive habits and creation of new productive ones. These positive new habits – whether it has to do with sticking to that diet or hitting the gym regularly, will help you build the body of your dreams
Visualisation techniques can help boost your mood: Usage of visualisation techniques and positive imagery can boost your mood by releasing hormones like serotonin and endorphins. These hormones are associated with a number conditions like more energy, positive mood, higher neuroplasticity, reduces stress and anxiety levels and healthier heart.
Helps build self-confidence: Self- confidence plays an important role in keeping you motivated and helping you stick to your diet or workout plans.
How does visualisation work?
When you vividly imagine yourself performing an activity, step by step, your body is physiologically create new neural pathways in your brain. This is similar to what happens when you actually perform that task physically.
Mental rehearsal of an activity helps create muscle memory of that activity, and trains the muscles to do what we want them to do. Essentially, you are training your body to respond the way you want it to.
To get the most out of it, visualisation needs to be practiced regularly. Remember the 4 Rs of visualisation – relaxation, realism, regularity and reinforcement.
When should you practice visualisation?
Visualisation can be practiced almost any time (except when you are engaged in activities that need your focused attention). Practice it in the morning when your mind is less restless or right before you go to bed, when your brain is sorting the important events of the day.
Visualisation – The process
Start by relaxing your mind and imagining your goals as vividly as possible. It is important to select images that have an emotional charge attached to it. Use present tense – as if it’s already happening. For example, if you are trying to reduce weight, visualise yourself as your lean and as muscular self – exactly the way you want to look. This will give your mind a clear target to work toward.
Mentally step into the image – see what you will see when you have achieved your goal, hear what you will hear and feel what you will feel. Feel the surge of confidence, pride and power. See and hear the reaction of your family and friends to the new you. Soak in the admiration (maybe even a bit of envy) you see in others’ eyes.
Use all your sensory framework – feel the big muscles, your increased strength and the change in the way you stand or walk. Keep a complete control over your imagination – think of your sculptured body, your new confidence level, and the feeling of achievement. Repeat the process as often as you can.
Use of visualisation before your workout session
It is essential to mentally prepare yourself before an intense workout session. This helps create greater muscle tension during the session and increased muscle growth after the workout.
Imagine yourself pumping weights. This will help intensify your sensations when you actually start the workout.
Use all of your senses. Visualise your gym, exactly as it is – see every piece of equipment in your mind’s eye. Hear the voices or music around you. See good looking people exercising around you. Use all the images that can motivate you to push yourself harder. Imagine everything – the sights, the smells and the sounds. Feel the weight of the gear in your hands and the pressure on your muscles. Get into the state and feel the emotional surge – the power, the energy and the motivation.
Imagine yourself performing each exercise – Every single detail. Imagine the flawless execution, the perfect posture and the flawless movements. Imagine each exercise and focus on your breathing. Use as many senses and details as possible.
This should get you motivated and primed for a great work out ahead. Repeat this visualisation technique before every workout session changing a few details to keep it interesting.
Creative visualisation is a proven tool for achieving your fitness goals faster. Master it and you will have a powerful secret tool that can help you achieve the body of your dreams.