June 19, 2024


The Healthy Technicians

Mind and Muscle – Can Negative Thoughts Affect Your Muscle Growth?

Surely by now we have all heard of the placebo effect and know how it affects mind and muscle. I wrote a decent post about this that can be found on my blog.

The placebo effect is usually found in the in medical practice. It’s when a patient is given a substance, aka “A Sugar Pill,” and told that the substance is an actual drug. When the drug is ingested, the patient is aware of the drug’s healing abilities, believes that he will be healed because of the medicine, and is healed.

Upon further investigation, we realize that it wasn’t the sugar pill that healed the person, so the question remains, “What healed him?”

I wasn’t the sugar pill that healed him, he healed himself.

The human brain is simply amazing with its power. It created your body, and it can heal it. What really healed the individual was his strong, unwavering belief that he would be healed. Even though he thought it was the pill healing him, he believed he would be healed.

There is an opposite reaction to this called the Nocebo Effect. This is quite simply the opposite of the Placebo Effect in that someone believes they won’t be healed, regardless of what medicine they take or what steps they take to get better. Since they believe they won’t be healed no matter what, they don’t get healed.

The Placebo Effect doesn’t always work, what I mean is that you don’t always get what you want just because you believe you will. Also, with the Nocebo Effect, you might sometimes be healed even though you fully expect not to.

What Does This Have To Do With Building or Losing Muscle? The placebo effect has everything to do with muscle growth. The reason people get healed is because of their faith that they would be healed. People can build muscle because of their faith that they will. The problem is, you can also lose muscle, or simply not gain muscle by believing that you won’t or can’t gain muscle.

This is a huge problem within the fitness industry as a whole. I’m not talking about the placebo effect, I’m talking about people’s faith in their physical abilities. People will start a program expecting immediate, mind blowing results. Unfortunately, most people don’t achieve the incredibly amazing results they wanted as quickly as they wanted too. Once this happens, people’s faith in their ability to lose fat, or gain muscle is very quickly replaced with doubt, embarrassment, remorse, and even anger.

Remember the medical example of the placebo and nocebo effect from above. The person believed they would be healed and were, or the person believed they wouldn’t be healed and were not healed. The ability to increase muscle mass can be the same way. When you believe you will gain muscle you will, but if you believe you won’t gain mass then you probably won’t because you are working against yourself.

When you start out believing with all of your might that you will be gaining muscle, you set the wheels of your mind in motion, which activate your brain into muscle building mode. The sad part is, when you lose your belief and doubt fills your mind, the wheels of progress will grind to a halt. It’s like a blade of grass just about to break the surface with positive thoughts, then the negative thoughts come in and the grass quickly dies and withers away.

The best way to keep the progress rolling is to keep the positive momentum going and leave no room for doubt. Here are three simple steps to keep the mental muscle building progress going:

  1. Always Think Positive Thoughts- This seems obvious and simple, but it is necessary. If you are always thinking positively about your muscle gains, there is no room for doubt. This doesn’t have to turn into some sort of therapy session you see on TV, just make sure that all of your thoughts about your workout, nutrition, supplementation, or anything to do with your muscle gaining success are always positive ones.
  2. Reinforcement Visualization – Not only should you always think positively about your training, you should visualize your success. Picture yourself lifting the weight you want to lift, picture your body looking how you want it to look. Don’t just see the picture, interact with it. Feel how great you will feel when you accomplish your goal.
  3. Believe In Yourself – Always believe that you can accomplish your goal. Never have any doubt that you can gain muscle or strength. If you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, you will never succeed.

Winning the mind game of muscle building is only half of the battle. You have to have a good training, nutrition, and rest and recovery plan in place to benefit fully from the mental techniques above. Your brain has the power to make your body build muscle, and with a certain way of thinking you can use it to your advantage.