Visualization: It's not just for Hippies

One of many tools to help you build a better body.

Did you ever sit around wishing there was an effective and totally free way to raise your reps per set and pounds per rep? Well, while you were sitting around wasting your time day dreaming you could just as easily have been visualizing your way to a better body. Don't worry, this isn't feel good new age spirituality, it is simple mind-body connection. Moreover, this isn't The Secret (the latest best selling self-help book); visualization is only one of many tools to help you build a better body.

Visualization (or visualisation for our British readers) can be classified based on when it occurs and in what manner it is used. For example, when to employ visualization techniques can be divided into three neat categories: pre-workout, workout, post-workout. Moreover, there are different types of visualization--most notably positive results and mind-muscle connections. Both types should probably be combined in each visualization experience. What I mean is that each time you employ this technique you should visualize both positive results AND attempt to feel the specific muscle group working as it would during the actual exercise.

Pre-workout visualization techniques can be used on the night before a big workout, the morning of, or even on one of those uncomfortable wooden benches in the locker room. Often the most convenient time for visualization is the night before a big workout. Now, don't worry, this isn't rocket science. It can be as simple as taking ten to fifteen minutes, while you lay in bed waiting for the sweet pleasures of a long slumber to overtake you, picturing yourself going through the next day's routine, set-by-set. See yourself lifting more weight for more reps. Whether you want to supply a soundtrack of grunting and clanging weights is up to you.

Using visualization during your workout is also a good idea. For example, next time you are laying on the bench getting ready for the bench press, close your eyes and picture yourself going through the movement with ease. As you picture it in your mind see the bar fully loaded with weight, see your arms pushing the weight up and away from your chest, for as many reps as you intend on completing. Want to take it a step further? As you visualize your impending set, allow your arms to go through the motion for each rep. [Note: This shouldn't take more than 30 seconds, otherwise your fellow gym goers might be a bit upset about you hogging the equipment.]

For post-workout visualization techniques why not think about muscle growth? Take the night after a big workout and spend ten to fifteen minutes picturing how your muscles work to rebuild. If you need a refresher course you can read up here. Moreover, picture your body morphing from its current state to whatever your physical goals might be. I am guessing many of you will be visualizing a six-pack.

But before I get a bunch of comments about how visualization is a bunch of new-age feel good worthless non-sense allow me to preempt your criticisms. First, how many of you have wasted $100s of dollars on worthless supplements? Well, with visualization there is no price tag. You don't need a Gold Card at GNC to get a discount off a ridiculously high priced supplement. Instead, it costs nothing to purchase a few minutes each day to use a tool that you come equipped with since birth- your mind. Second, you only need to invest about an hour and a half each week. As you can see, we aren't talking about changing around your whole schedule- just slipping in ten to fifteen minutes the night before a workout, during a workout, and after your workout.

And even though it should go without saying, I will be sure to reiterate, visualization alone won't build the body you want. Make sure you use visualization as another tool in what should be a very large and powerful weight loss/muscle building arsenal. Visualization will help you get a bit more out of your current routine, but it won't substitute for it.

I implore you, give visualization a chance to improve your workouts and your recovery. As always, report your results, positive or negative, in the comments section.

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John Kaiser

John Kaiser is a devoted husband and father, and author for Straight to the Bar. He blogs over at Total Transformation Test.

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